Ashley and the Xs reunite to the delight of their fans
Write about music long enough and you will come to accept that, alas, bands come and go. That surely is no shocking revelation to anyone, anywhere, and much of the time it’s pretty obvious that one band or other isn’t going to have that long a shelf life. Lifestyles, priorities and tastes all change, especially if the band is made up of younger players.
Once in a while though, you hear a band that has that ineffable “it” quality that is so very rare and you think to yourself, “Here is a band that just might make it. Here is a band in it for the long haul. Here’s a group of crazy kids who have stumbled on the formula that turns lead in to gold!”
Then they break up.
Bands come and go but when a band like that splits, particularly when the split comes at time when it seems like their star is rising, well, it sticks with you and all a friend can say is ain’t it a shame.
That’s how I felt when I first heard that Ashley and the Xs were no more. I had written about them in July of 2013 and was mightily impressed by their cohesion as a band and by their sound and style. They had it going on and I was genuinely excited to see what they would do next. Before the year was over, the band was defunct (and de-funked, I suppose.)
There were reasons, of course. A marriage, personal projects, varying interests; they just up and went their separate ways for a while. Guitarist Matt Shigekawa suggested to me during our interview that Dan “The Metronome” Walker may have been spending some involuntary time down in Mexico, but given that Shigekawa himself has spent the last three years living as a wilderness hermit, subsisting almost entirely on a steady diet of wild mushrooms and cultivating a look not unlike that Japanese fellow in season six of Lost, anything he says is to be taken with a grain of salt.
Apocryphal stories aside, the exciting news here is that Ashley and the Xs are back and hitting their stride so well it’s as though they never stopped in the first place. Having experimented with some different band members, the group decided (rightfully so I think) that the original lineup is the only lineup so Ashley (Carder these days) along with Matt, Dan and Eric Parham are back in the rehearsal room and, soon, back in the recording studio as well.
When asked what prompted the reunion Shigekawa, who also plays lead for Ryan Oyer, said that fans of the old band kept approaching him after shows asking about Ashley and the Xs. Surprised by the continued interest in a band that hadn’t played together in three years, he approached his old bandmates and by August they were rehearsing for a one-off reunion show that may not be so one-off after all.
The enigmatic guitar player has been coy about what could be in store for the band next, but a confirmed EP along with the enthusiasm of the players and their fans points towards a brighter future beyond the one-time hootenanny.
Summing up the situation, Shigekawa said, “Our first practice…it felt right and we all knew immediately we should do this. It’s like going home after a long stay-away at college!”
The date is set. The reunion show is taking place at J.J.’s Bohemia, right where Ashley and the Xs got their start, on Friday, Nov. 11th at 9:30 p.m. Notable pilgarlic Eddie Bridges will be hosting that evening and longtime friends and supporters of the band Danimal Pinson and E.T. will be opening for the band.
Ashley and the Xs were one of the hottest acts in town right up until they stopped performing but the band has picked up right where they left off without missing a beat. It’s more than a reunion show; it’s a homecoming, long overdue and most welcome and you want to be there.
Addendum: Moments before this piece was released for publication, an excitable Shigekawa contacted me with the news that the band is also working on a Mariachi Chanukah album, just in time for Christmas. In this writer’s opinion this is just the sort of nonsense a man living on wild mushrooms for three years might say and is likely of no interest to anyone. But there you have it, anyways.