Christopher White, also known as Isto, is a musician and music teacher currently based in New York City and Newark, NJ. His primary instruments are guitar, voice, ukulele, and Hawaiian guitar. He plays many different styles of music, but is best known for his jazz and ragtime guitar with crooning, his fingerstyle arrangements of classic American song, his humorous and thoughtful original songs, his stage antics, and more recently for his work with King Isto's Tropical String Band.
Originally from Hamilton, a small town in the Leatherstocking Region of New York State, Isto began studying guitar with local legend Ed Vollmer in 1993 at the age of 9. Later, he went on to study Music at Wesleyan with a concentration in composition. While at Wesleyan, he was able to study under Tony Lombardozzi, Neely Bruce, Anthony Braxton, Alvin Lucier, and many other great musicians. After graduating in 2006, Isto moved to Brooklyn, where he began teaching guitar and ukulele full time. Around the same time, he also began posting videos to youtube. Since his Banana Song was featured on youtube's homepage in 2007, Isto's videos have received a few million hits.
Soon after moving to Brooklyn, Isto became associated with the Jalopy Theatre in Red Hook. He teaches group guitar classes there and performs frequently, often as part of their Wednesday night Roots and Ruckus showcase. Isto also performs at various other venues around the city. In 2017, he moved to Newark, NJ, where he teaches out of his home, and continues to teach and perform regularly in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
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"As students and residents listened to him spin unusual fairy tales about everyday life, Isto's attitude became contagious. As he sang 'I'm a Werewolf Over You,' howling through a transformation process, Isto showed that life depends on how you view it. Rather than being muddled down with cynicism and despair, Isto embraces what life throws at him, noting excitedly at one point, 'My guitar's never made that sound before!'
-The Colgate Maroon-News
"Funny, but kind of mystical."
-Douglas Lain - Diet Soap Podcast
““This guy uses his pipes to their full comic potential. If there were a key influence here, I would guess it's old Merry Melodies cartoons. Squeaks, squawks, croons, bluesy runs, falsetto, basso, quantum physics...sheesh this guy has it all. He cuts the room with a screech that ends ALL conversation, pauses, and mumbles out a lovely little scat run. Let's not forget that he's also a great, versatile, lightning fast guitarist. Plus, he'd like to stick it to Ann Coulter...God, what a great song. What a funny, funny writer...and you and I both know that funny is hard to do. Isto does it.””
-Ben Krieger - Jezebel Music Newsletter
"When I say croon, I truly mean that this man croons. It’s not in the flashy sense you may relate with “crooners” that made all the ladies swoon such as Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby; it’s more of the sweet, gentle croon that comes from the original definition of the word."
-Martha Ostergar, KSL.com
"This one is sure to make your ears smile."
-Mike Jones - The Emerald Press
“Isto has piles and piles of talent. More than that though, he has an immense love for creating music, and it is becoming clearer to me (as I listen to/read more of his work) that he seems to just be in love with everything.”
-Paisley Tunes Blog
"Some of the sounds have been inspired by his extensive studies of the native music of planets in star systems other than our own."
-The Utica Observer-Dispatch
"Models stood atop tree trunks set against a faux cabin backdrop while a bearded, denim-clad dude sat in a corner singing and strumming his guitar as if he were in front of a campfire–not a fashion presentation. I learned later that the musician was in fact Chris White."