Local musician brings his sound to venues, stage

Thursday , May 22, 2014 - 4:00 PM

Standard-Examiner correspondent

Bruce Springsteen might have been born to run, but local native Gar Ashby was born to play music.

“I was four when I asked my mom if I could play the guitar, she had me learn to play piano,” Ashby said, “I was 8 years old when I got my first guitar, and started a band. I don’t remember ever not wanting to be a musician.”

Ashby plays at The Horse, 3611 Washington Blvd., Ogden, on May 28. The Horse is a bar and grill, open to ages 21 and older. The show is free, and starts about 7:30 p.m.

Ashby, starting with a Sears Silvertone Jumbo Western guitar “almost as big as he was,” remembers being influenced by Elvis, and other acts.

“I remember seeing people on TV playing guitar and I kind of wanted to do that. I think by the time I was 8, I was watching Elvis play guitar, and all the girls liked him. I was thinking that’s got to be where I am at,” he said.

Besides Elvis, Ashby counts a few other famous acts as influential in his early days of music.

“Early on it was Elvis Presley, then Three Dog Night; when I was in high school, I started listening to Bad Company, and Joe Walsh,” said Ashby. Although, if he could have his own dream guitar festival, Ashby has a few favorites he’d love to sit in with on stage.

“I absolutely love the feel of the New Orleans bands, I’d have to have Little Feat, The Neville Brothers, Doctor John, of course I’d have to have Stevie Ray Vaughan, and probably Jimi Hendrix would be there,” he said.

Ashby describes his style as the soundtrack to life. Not limited to one genre or style, Ashby adapts to play “everyone’s favorite songs.”

“If I’m playing in a bar, I try to play everybody’s favorite dance music... (like) ‘Play that Funky Music’ and ‘Brick House,’ when I’m in a restaurant, everybody wants to hear Neil Young or Bob Seger,” Ashby said. “The soundtrack of your life ... that’s the whole philosophy of what I do.”

Yet, fans and listeners shouldn’t expect an exact copy of familiar tunes.

“I’ll play it my way, it will sound like me playing it, I don’t try to imitate anybody. It will be my voice, and my guitar,” Ashby said, “I do sneak some original songs in. It’s not about coming out to a Gar Ashby show, it’s about being part of what’s going on.

During the course of Ashby’s career, he has shied away from the tug of the glitz and glamour of fame.

“I have no interest in being a star. That’s just not my lifestyle. I’m down to earth. I like music just for the sake of music. I would be terrible at being famous. I love music but I just don’t like the fame part of it,” he said, “Rather than try to be a star, I try to play everybody’s favorite songs, and fit into the venue where I’m. I like fitting in with the atmosphere.”

Besides gigging, Ashby also teaches guitar lessons. He plans to develop more online tutorials to reach more students.

“One of my goals is to start teaching online to reach a lot more kids,” Ashby said.

He also enjoys composing. He hopes to expand into more original composing, eventually placing his songs in television shows.

“I really enjoy writing instrumental music and I would love it if I could do more of that. I do a lot of composing, and pitch it to music libraries, I haven’t gotten any TV placements yet, but that’s kind of where I am headed, and that’s more instrumental stuff,” said Ashby.

Starting in June, Ashby will also be taking part in Salt Lake Acting Company’s production of the Utah cult classic, “Saturday’s Voyeur.”

“I’ve been doing theater since about 2000. I was working in the studio with a friend of mine and he needed a guitar player for a production, ‘Always Patsy Cline,’ a great show. I found out that I loved theater. I’ve just been doing whatever shows come my way, about two or three shows a year,” he said.

“Saturday’s Voyeur” kicks off on June 25. Visit www.saltlakeactingcompany.org to find show times and tickets. Visit Ashby’s website at www.garashby.com.

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