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
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.