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James Ashberry
Honest, experienced, simple...
Phillip Hong
March 7, 2010
There's a very nice feeling involved when you base yourself as an artist with the most abstract of descriptions. Some artists revel and lavish themselves with elaborate tales from tours and sophisticated set ups that rival rocket science, and that sort of identity is well deserved in many instances.
But James Ashberry is the ultimate antonym to that sort of description. In fact, simplicity seems to be the core of his music, travelling to other places with just an acoustic guitar and a good voice. A wealth of experience seems to be a catalyst when it comes to telling his story as it is, at least with an instrument.
If only someone could explain the term "simplicity" to me because I presume that my introductions seem to be the exact opposite of trying to get to the heart of the matter. But that's another story...
PHIL: How did you get into music, in general?
JAMES: I grew up in a musical environment, My grandmother's brothers performed in a vaudeville act in the early 1900s complete with washboards and jugs.
She herself has a wonderful singing voice as does my father. My uncle taught me guitar at the age of 10 and I sang in the choir in public school. It's in my blood!
PHIL: You have performed along well known artists such as Kim Mitchell and April Wine. What is the best part of performing alongside fellow talent?
JAMES: Honestly, the best part of performing along side well known artists such as these is the validation you feel just being part of it. Oh, and being able to tell your friends and family that you met Kim Mitchell.
PHIL: Tell me about "Unsung", your latest album. What were the main influences behind the tracks featured here?
JAMES: The songs on Unsung were actually written over a period of several years. Collected while I was working on other projects that didn't allow an outlet for this material. It is a very introspective album written predominantly on acoustic guitar.
PHIL: You have performed for over two decades now, with an impressive 4000 gigs under your belt. What keeps you going after such a long journey?
JAMES: What keeps me going? The love of a good woman, the fact that it's not just what I do but it's who I am. Plus after paying dues for 20 years, if I quit now I would feel that it was all for naught.
PHIL: If music wasn't your passion, what would you picture yourself doing?
JAMES: Well initially I went to school for illustration, I was going to be an artist. Other than artistic pursuits I might have been an eco warrior or in Greenpeace or something.
Either way I think I was doomed to poverty, all the things I am passionate about aren't particularly lucrative.
PHIL: Would a ukulele be a good fit for your style of music?
Phillip Hong is a presenter on AMPM, combining some great indie music with quotes and interviews.
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