“It’s always been attention to the small things that have made the biggest impact to my career,” he says with a bit of a smile. “Whether it’s the pacing of the live show, the vocal harmonies or the way the bass and drums play off one another, all those things matter.” And little by little, all the elements have come together to make Jared Ashley one of Nashville’s most promising new artists.
Born in Hobbs, NM, near the oil fields on the Texas-New Mexico border, Ashley relocated to Newnan, GA with his dad as a small child. “Growing up, my parents listened to Alabama, Ronnie Milsap, Kenny Rogers. I was always around country music as a kid,” Jared recalls.
He received his first guitar at the age of five and it proved a constant friend to him throughout childhood. The Ashley family later returned to Hobbs during Jared’s sophomore year in high school and, not knowing a soul his own age, he began honing his guitar playing and writing music as a way to pass the time.
“That’s when I really sat down and got serious about writing songs and playing the guitar,” he says. “I was really just trying to consume my time with things other than being bored out of my mind,” he says. Inspired by the revitalization of country music in the early 90’s by artists like Travis Tritt and fellow Newnan native Alan Jackson, Jared came to claim country music as his own.
After high school, Jared joined the Navy, serving four years aboard the USS Independence and USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carriers. He spent much of that time stationed in Yokosuka, Japan while also serving two tours of duty in the Persian Gulf. “On long trips out to sea, there’s not a whole lot to do when you’re off duty. You can stare at water or you can play the guitar. And that’s when I got more serious about it.”
At the encouragement of his Navy buddies, Jared began playing acoustic gigs at George’s Country Bar, located just off the naval base in Yokosuka. It was there his music caught the ear of a friend who introduced him to a contact with deep ties in the Nashville music community. With a year left on his commitment with the Navy, Jared made his first trip to Nashville and was instantly hooked on the town’s thriving scene.
Jared moved to Nashville the following year, assembling a band nearly as soon as he arrived. His talents quickly landed him the coveted weekend gig at the world-famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on lower Broadway. “Lower Broad is a boot camp,” Jared says. “You’re gonna meet a ton of people and you’re gonna learn a lot. It’ll either make you or break you.”
The gigs at Tootsie proved to be a tremendous break for Jared, giving him the opportunity to meet and impress numerous Music Row executives at his shows and make his first foray into the recording studio. It was there that Jared also met the booking agent who began to mold Jared into the road warrior he has become.
After placing fifth on Season Four of “Nashville Star” in 2006, Jared used the exposure to further his ability to tour and build a fan base as a live artist, even without the benefit of a record deal.
The many miles spent on the road have given Jared an even greater opportunity to hone his songwriting and test his material with his live audience. “I’m a songwriter first, and I became an artist because I wanted people to hear my songs,” Jared says. “I’m really enjoying the songs I’m writing more because they represent where I am in my life right now.”
Now more confident with his abilities to write songs as well as spot the special ones from other writers in the Nashville community, Ashley headed into the studio in 2010 with co-producer Bobby Terry to begin assembling an album for his fans to purchase at shows. The self-titled, self-financed project made it abundantly clear that he had grown into an artist fully capable of hanging with Nashville’s best.
The music also brought Jared to the attention of Blaster Entertainment, a multi-faceted Ohio-based entertainment company. Jared was soon signed for management representation, and it was an easy decision for both parties to sign him to a record deal when the company’s Blaster Records division launched a full Nashville operation in 2012 behind the release of albums by Hank Williams, Jr. and Aaron Lewis.
Ashley, who maintains an aggressive touring schedule playing more than 150 shows per year, is currently on a nationwide tour visiting country radio stations to promote his first single, “Last Train To Memphis.” The song, penned by Ashley with Nick Sturms and Jeremy McComb, is one of eleven tracks from his forthcoming Blaster Records release.
Jared’s single-minded determination can be found in the lyric of “Last Train To Memphis” — ‘It’s a one-way track, there ain’t no going back.’ That dedication is finally paying off tenfold in the realization of his lifelong dreams.