Ashlea Jonesmith & Oliver Wives
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Ashlea Jonesmith & Oliver Wives


Band Folk Americana


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"The Things That Stay With You"

I have recently come to think of music as a much more localized thing. What I mean is that over the years the closer I have gotten to what I call home, the better and better the music has gotten for me. When I lived in Kingston, Montreal, Halifax and Toronto (in that order) I was entranced by the likes of Neil Young and The Tragically Hip---their sound reflective of the moods of those cities, and they were of course local. As I gravitated west in my early thirties, I came with tempered steps slowly closer and closer to home, finally arriving on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and now, Denman Island. Once on Denman Island, the music of Ashlea Jonesmith and Oliver Heywood Jones traversed the edges of my consciousness, breathing new life into my musical inventory. From the first listen I knew that the album would become one of those rare ones that I just can't get enough of. The things that stay with me (the album), would be one of the things which would stay with me.

The music has been called folksy, familiar and comforting by critics. It's clearly all of these things. It's an easy listen, marked by meaningful and deep lyrics. As I sit in the fading light of a barely spring Denman day in late March, the giant natural V which the Maple Trees make at the Kaffee Klatsch is effervescent. I'm listening to their album on my computer with head phones and the rest of the world is barely a thought. Ashlea sings of broken heartedness and wood in the woodstove, and I'm reminded of the proverbial cold winter winds which have ripped through not only my broken heart, but my leaky cabin. Broken heartedness, Ashlea reminds us, is universal, and the light from her album matches the shades reflecting off the brilliant green moss of the infamous trees. I'm comforted by the slow, long, soothing, and yet haunting bellows of Ashlea's dreamy voice. They remind me that spring is on the way, and with the purple flowers overtaking the lawn at the Klatsch, affirm Ashlea and Oliver's magical influence for Denman Island.

Ashlea and Oli are a pair of these DIY indie artists that bless this land with their tunes in intimate environments ranging from someone's living room to a community hall, local watering hole, or coffee shop. They are one of these “catch em while you can” phenomenons. Catch them while you can, not just so you can say that you knew them when they were first starting out and playing high school gyms or local bars, but because one day they'll be in such high demand, that it'll be all you can but to get your hands on a pair of tickets to see this pair of heartbreakers.

The sound is folksy, but also a little country, but the crux of it; the real depth of it, the thing which hooks you like an addict, is Ashlea's voice. And yes, it would undoubtedly not be possible with Oliver's beautiful bass lines and back up vocals, but Ashlea's voice is borderline angelic. It's the perfect companion while slowly making your way across Denman Island in the evening light. It's the perfect CD for that old stereo in that old standby diesel truck which never fails to start. It's the perfect start to the day in a cabin where all you've got is wood, and by the morning the temperature is the same inside as it is outside. It's also one of those CD's you wouldn't mind if you could only pick one CD, on a really, really long trip that possibly includes a solo overnight push. Most of all though it's the perfect thing to keep with you, for a really, really long, long time.

What does the future hold for this eclectic duo and their armoury of gee-tars, drums, mandolin, banjos and harmonicas? Well, there is a new tour on deck, in which Ash and Oli will be making tracks across this fair and beautiful land to the east. This means a new album, new sounds and new songs that people just won't be able to get out of their heads...then again why would you want to? That angelic voice is not so bad on those lonesome tracks we drive, sail, fly and walk with mindfulness. - Kevin Vowels - Blogger

"Where You Lay Your Guitar is Home"

You walk into a bar on a cold winter’s night and its warmth greets you. Some folks at the back are laughing and talking, but the ones closer to the stage are quiet. You notice the band on stage and immediately recognize something familiar. When the singer’s closed eyes open and alight on you, the moment lasts, like she is singing to you, singing the words right out of you.

Ashlea Jonesmith’s passionate voice and lyrics have that effect. She isn’t trying to reinvent the love-song wheel, and because of that, her experiences resonate with our own. Her words soothe the bruised pieces of our hearts. Her debut album—The Things That Stay With Me was released last year—holds two universal stories. The first is of someone living life and love unapologetically. The other is of someone searching for a voice, for a place in the world.

Music is definitely one of the places Jonesmith belongs. Surrounded by music growing up, she was onstage at Ontario’s longstanding Mariposa Folk Festival by the time she was 15. She later married fellow musician Oliver Heywood-Jones (formerly of the Balling Jacks), guaranteeing that music would remain a major part of her life.

“I don’t have huge goals that I am going to get signed and blow up,” she says. “I just want it for myself, and I love performing and I won’t be happy in my life if I don’t have a go at it. I mostly just do it because I love it.”

The pair, who met while going to school in Nelson, are setting out from Ontario and heeding the call to return West this month. It will be both a tour and a search for a new home in some yet undetermined BC town. Although Jonesmith is no stranger to performing, this trek will be her first official tour.

“With my husband, being on the road is probably just more like when we are traveling to family relatives—probably not as rock and roll, probably more tame,” she laughs. “But it’s definitely a great thing to have. Instead of at the end of the day, coming home and watching TV together, we come home and play music.”

Once settled, writing material for a new recording is the next step. With a few songs already penned, Jonesmith sees herself focusing more on folk and Americana than she did with her first album.

“On The Things That Stay With Me, I guess I was starting to do a country thing, and I did a lot of twangy stuff on it, so I think that I am going to go back a bit more folky,” Jonesmith says. “I never know what’s going to happen, but the album that is out already has got a whole bunch of styles—like rock, and country and folky and Americana, so I am probably going to narrow my style down to more of a folk-Americana style.”

The songs on her debut are also older, culled from seven years of material, a couple dating back to her days in high school.

“I kind of tried to disown them, and then by popular demand, I brought them back and recorded them on the album,” she laughs. “Definitely, I hope the new ones are more mature and more inspired by a wider variety of other music.

“Now that I’m married,” she adds, “I don’t have all of these heartbreaks and romances to worry about. I definitely was inspired by all of these different relationships I’ve had in the past, and now they’re not going to happen, so I’m definitely starting to write more make-believe songs and be inspired more with where I am, and there’s more focus on family and the country and political things that I hear on the news and other things in life than my own personal relationships.”

Ashlea Jonesmith and Oliver Heywood-Jones perform at the Brickhouse on January 15 and 16.

By Carolyn Nikodym - The Fernie Fix

"Local singer prepares for cross-country tour"

December 16, 2009 - by Kristan Farlie

It’s now or never for local singer/songwriter Ashlea Jonesmith, who has decided that this point in her life is the perfect time to dedicate herself to her music.

“Choosing a career in songwriting and performing original music is a choice of love,” said Jonesmith. “I won’t feel complete unless I devote some real time and effort to it.”

The 26-year-old Bracebridge native, who many will remember as Ashlea Smith, picked up a guitar at age 13 and hasn’t missed a beat.

Taught by her father Blair, Jonesmith has fond memories of growing up in a house full of music and in a town that fostered her young talent.

After graduating from BMLSS, Jonesmith attended York University where she earned a BA in visual arts. She then went on to the Kootenay School of the Arts in Nelson, B.C. where she not only earned a diploma in Metal Art and Design, but met her future husband Oliver “Oli” Heywood-Jones.

The pair shares a love of music. Oli provided the backup and harmonies on Jonesmith’s album The Things That Stay With Me, which was released in March 2008.

The two were married in the summer of 2008 at the farmhouse and property on Golden Beach Road where Jonesmith grew up and her parents still live.

The album includes 10 recordings, including one of the songs Jonesmith wrote in Grade 11.

Her latest lyrical work has also been added to the album as a special treat for her fans.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what genre of music Jonesmith’s work fits into, but it is easy to say that you will be mesmerized from the moment this songbird opens her mouth. The music is folksy, familiar and comforting.

“When people come to my show they say it’s personal and the songs connect with people,” added Jonesmith.

And the reason? Because Jonesmith is truly in love with music; she has channeled her focus on her passion rather than making money.

“I don’t want to be the Walmart of singers,” said Jonesmith. When the focus is on making money and becoming famous, she feels there is no focus on the music.

Her goal right now is to enjoy the temporary freedom she has to live gig to gig, and when she decides to settle on a career, she hopes to be able to find something that still allows her to enjoy playing her music.

This January, Jonesmith and her husband will be setting out on a cross-Canada tour, playing at small venues along the way. After the tour in February the couple will settle down in British Columbia. They hope to play shows in nearby communities while working day jobs.

“I’m looking forward to having some songwriting time,” said Jonesmith. “Booking the shows and promoting this tour has taken a lot of work and I haven’t had much time to work on songwriting, which is the part I love the most. I’d like to record another album and do another tour, back to Ontario and to the East Coast.”

Before Jonesmith sets off across Canada, area residents can check out her musical stylings at the Griffin Gastropub in Bracebridge the evening of Saturday, Dec. 19.

“I’m sad to leave Bracebridge, but I’ll be back to visit as often as I can,” she said. “I see this town becoming more and more supportive of the music community ... there are many musicians and artists locally who are finally being recognized through new initiatives that are happening at our local businesses.

For more information on upcoming shows and to hear Jonesmith’s music go to - The Bracebride Examiner/Gravenhurst Banner


The Things That Stay With Me: 2009

Hurricane EP: 2011



With a voice that has been called powerful, soaring, and haunting, and a natural aptitude for writing songs that are thick on mood and meaning, emerging singer/songwriter Ashlea Jonesmith is on her way. Twenty-ten and eleven have been breakthrough years for Jonesmith and her partner, Oliver Wives who have been touring across Canada and more extensively within Ontario and BC, and stepping into the Canadian festival scene with debuts at the Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival, Lillooet’s Music at the Miyazaki House concert series and Islands Folk Festival in Duncan, BC.

Originally from Bracebridge, Ontario, Jonesmith now resides with her husband and collaborator, Oliver Wives on Denman Island, BC – a tiny island in the Straight of Georgia.

Oliver Wives began playing with Jonesmith in 2008, before she recorded her fist studio album, The Things That Stay With Me, on which Wives provides much instrumentation. As a touring duo, Wives offers melodic bass lines and pleasing harmonies to Jonesmith’s heartfelt song.

Jonesmith began her song-writing career early in life and was introduced to the festival scene at fifteen when she was chosen as a local act to play at Mariposa Folk Festival in 1998. Throughout her post-secondary studies, Jonesmith performed often at local establishments in Toronto Ontario and later Nelson, BC, where she met Oliver Wives and a slew of other musicians and singer/songwriters who would inspire and challenge her in new ways, ultimately changing her sound from that of a quiet, somewhat generic folk-songbird to that of a gutsy, confident and distinctive performer-songwriter.

At the end of December 2011, Jonesmith released a much-anticipated EP of new material. Her writing style has evolved since she began recording “The Things That Stay With Me,” and with the EP “Hurricane” she surprises her listeners with a grown-up new feel. The next two years will see Jonesmith and Wives back in the studio working on the next full-length album, and doing much more touring.

Jonesmith maintains her own website and blog where she writes frankly about her life as a touring performer, and as a modern-day pioneer, homesteading off-grid on a regenerating clear-cut with a tiny cabin and a lot of five-gallon buckets.

For a live sound example please see this video:
on Ashlea Jonesmith's YouTube Channel.

“As haunting and beautiful as the land she so clearly represents, Ashlea Jonesmith's exquisite voice and compositions capture the natural spirit of Canada and her burgeoning body politic...a revelation and a joy to the ear.” – Dan Blair, Owner, MatchVox Studio, Toronto.

"Ashlea sings from the heart with songs that are intensely personal yet universal in emotional and spiritual appeal. She exudes fun, friendship and passion in her music." - Tom Kremer, festival coordinator, Lose Yer Shoes Folkadelic Festival

“A powerful, emotionally charged voice and a distinct sincerity that is reminiscent of what great country music used to be.”
– Matt Attfield, Promoter.

"With all the new music that you may happen to hear, you may want to take a second listen when you come across the voice of Ashlea Jonesmith. Her heartfelt songs with beautiful, simple, and true melodies, swiftly seep into the soul. It was a pleasure and privilege to work with Ashlea and to have had the chance to experience the unique openness of Ashlea's call." – Jamie Matsukubo, Producer, MatchVox Studio, Toronto.

“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what genre of music Jonesmith’s work fits into, but it is easy to say that you will be mesmerized from the moment this songbird opens her mouth. The music is folksy, familiar and comforting.” – Kristan Farlie, The Bracebridge Examiner and Gravenhurst Banner.
“Her experiences resonate with our own. Her words soothe the bruised pieces of our hearts. Her debut album—The Things That Stay With Me, which was released last year—holds two universal stories. The first is of someone living life and love unapologetically. The other is of someone searching for a voice, for a place in the world.” – Carolyn Nikodym, The Fernie Fix.