It was our pleasure for this week’s FoK to speak with very active local musician, Beverly staffer and all around great dude Jared Ashdown on growing up here, as well as the arts and evolving pulse of the city.
Morgan Y. Evans: How long have you worked at The Beverly? What do you enjoy about being part of the place and what they offer?
Jared Ashdown: I’ve been with The Beverly for about a year and a half now. I work with some of the most lovely people that have made it more than just another job for me. Having the privilege to interact deeply with members of the community, serve a diverse crowd and bring music and other forms of art into the fold makes it a very special thing.
I saw you recently posted Botch’s We Are The Romans re-master to your Facebook. That album was so game-changing for so many people but it’s also slept on, compared to other records, despite its lasting cult influence. What appeals to you about it?
A good friend of mine showed me that record when I was around 17, I believe. I had grown up on hardcore/punk/metal and had an affection for bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Godflesh, Converge, etc. When “To Our Friends in the Great White North” kicked off, there was no way I’d deny this record it’s just due. Those mathy, driving riffs with Dave Verellen’s raspy vocals had me hooked. Nobody has made a record that sounds nearly as technically stunning as We Are The Romans.
What are your earliest memories of Kingston? What was it like growing up here? Do you still have a lot of family around?
So, I was born here and grew up on Van Deusen Street right off of Broadway. My father would always take me for drives and would play his favorite records in the car. I remember that we would tune into the Zep-Set I think on WDST or something and sing the classics, poorly. For a long time, Kingston went through a somewhat depressive episode. Living was hard. My parents struggled but always provided food and a warm home. There were scenic gems that my father and mother often brought me to, which imparted a passionate love for the landscape here. My parents both live just outside of Kingston now but our families are still very much rooted here.
As someone who is aware of Kingston’s arts and music culture as well as the surrounding Hudson Valley, what are some of the most exciting things going on around here for you at the moment?
Whew … OK, I’m glad you asked. There is a diverse and incredible music/arts scene that is growing here in Kingston. It’s been brewing up for a long time through members of my generation. Every day I’m inspired by the people around me and the things they pour their hearts and souls into. Broadway Arts, The Beverly, Tubby’s, BSP, The Anchor and more are active in providing platforms for people to be themselves and create/perform. Locals are starting bands again, finally gaining the courage to show their visual work or joining a performance art troupe. It’s exciting to be part of this approach towards a Kingston Renaissance. We’re unafraid to express ourselves and share our passion with others!
Your band Open Head put on one of the funnest sets I have seen recently and it was very inspiring. I think I wrote on Instagram that I got some real Tar, Candiria, Fugazi vibes — a thrilling blend. Plus your own sort of wavelength and youthful energy. What’s inspiring to you about that project?
I saw that post actually! Thank you so much for the huge compliments. We all love Fugazi, Unwound, U.S. Maple, Duster, and that entire period of cult-sound chaos during the 90s.
I am old enough to remember seeing Fugazi with Unwound and I think Lois at Vassar!
This project is an amalgamation of those influences and the anxieties that Jon, Brandon, Mattia and I all live with. We have to throw it into our music as a coping mechanism at this point. It’s exciting to communicate frustration, weird life experiences, and our perspectives, the way that we do. Someone came up to me at our last show and expressed that during a song they felt their anxiety leave their body. To hear that from someone is incredible and only makes us want to push further/get weirder.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing us as a city right now?
We are in the middle of a housing crisis, there are more jobs than there are careers, outside developers are actively making it harder for locals to start businesses or buy properties and we are polarized on opinions regarding the future of this city. I worry that our most diverse neighborhoods will be displaced, and living will become a reflection of unaffordable places like Brooklyn. The question we need to ask ourselves at the moment is how do we unite to prevent Kingston from eating itself?
What are you looking forward to about 2020?
A call for more activism locally/nationally, more music and a better president.