The Ashley Jo Farmer Band
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The Ashley Jo Farmer Band

Salisbury, North Carolina, United States | SELF

Salisbury, North Carolina, United States | SELF
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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"Ashley Jo Farmer performs at the White House"

Ashley Jo Farmer of Salisbury knew it was a big honor to be invited to sing at the White House as part of the Billy Jonas Band.

But the singer/songwriter had no idea of what Easter Monday would hold for her or her family. Husband Tommy and children Sarah, 11, and Benjamin, 5, accompanied Ashley to Washington, excited to be part of her moment in the sun.

She didn't imagine she'd get to pose for a picture with Michelle Obama's arm around her shoulder. Or that she would be asked by star Mariska Hargitay to take some photos of her son. Or get to pose with Reese Witherspoon and author J.K. Rowling — in the same photo.

And her daughter Sarah never dreamed she'd get a front row seat for a performance of the young Canadian singer who is smoking hot right now: Justin Bieber.

But all these things happened.

And, oh yes, the Billy Jonas Band performed as well.

The Farmers arrived Saturday evening and stayed in a hotel across from the Pentagon. The next morning, they moved into the W Hotel, where all the performers for the White House Easter Egg Roll were staying. Bieber — and the mobs of girls flocking around for a glimpse of him — kept the hotel interesting, Ashley says.

On Monday morning, the day of the event, Ashley awoke at 4:45 a.m. in time to meet the band at 5:30 a.m. so they could go through security.

To entertain those waiting in line, they performed two early shows on the stage at the Ellipse, a park area south of the White House. Later, they performed at the main stage area on the South Lawn.

That morning, Ashley discovered that Jonas wanted his band members to wear T-shirts — an unwelcome surprise for Ashley. She'd spent a long time deliberating on the perfect outfit, and meeting the first lady in a "bang a bucket" T-shirt was her "biggest, worst nightmare from hell," she says, laughing.

Other than that, and the fact that the hot sun made performing a bit uncomfortable, the experience was a thrill, she says. There was a live Internet feed of the main stage performances, so her parents and friends back home were able to watch.

When she wasn't performing, Ashley wasn't shy about taking pictures of the many luminaries who had been invited.

"Every celebrity I met was incredibly nice," she said.

Meeting Mariska Hargitay was a huge thrill, she said.

When Elmo from Sesame Street appeared, Hargitay mentioned that her son was a huge Elmo fan.

The star of "Law and Order" was without a camera, so Ashley agreed to take pictures and e-mail them later to Hargitay.

Then, Ashley says, "I turned around and found myself standing next to the first lady."

Ashley told her it was an honor to meet her and thanked her for the chance to perform. When Ashley then asked if she could get a picture of her, the first lady put her arm around Ashley — while Hargitay's husband took the photo.

Another great moment for Ashley was meeting Maria and Gordon from Sesame Street.

The cast of the hot TV show "Glee" was on hand, as well as Yo Gabba Gabba and Dylan and Cole Sprouse — the popular young stars of "The Suite Life with Zack and Cody," who were on hand to read a story.

"They were so great and so friendly, just like their TV personalities," Ashley said.

Sarah is also a big fan of the Disney series and was thrilled to pose for a photo with them.

"I was the only one who got my picture taken with them, so I felt kind of special," she said.

But the best part for Sarah was having a front-row seat for Bieber's concert. She had to sit through a Sesame Street performance in order to snag such a great seat, she said, but that was worth it.

Sarah says she didn't know who Bieber was until a few months ago, when one of her good friends introduced her to his music. She liked it. (Bieber performed on "Saturday Night Live" last week and was recently dubbed "the hottest 16-year-old in the world" by People magazine.)

When Bieber actually looked into her eyes for several long stretches while he was singing, she couldn't believe it.

"It was really awesome," she said.

After the song was over, she said, the girls sitting behind her said, "He was singing to you!"

Of course none of this would have been possible without Ashley being in the Billy Jonas Band. The band performs original music and is composed of Billy Jonas of Asheville; River Guerguerian, percussionist; Sherman Hoover, bassist and third harmony; and Ashley, who is the harmony singer and head cheerleader, she says.

Jonas is known for his family-friendly music and energetic live performances.

Their most well-known song, Ashley says, is "What Kind of Cat Are You?" — a call-and-response song that gets the audience participating — which is the goal of the show.

"Parents and kids have a great time," Ashley says. "It's a neat thing to be a part of."

Jonas is also known for playing recycled objects, including a big blue trashcan and giant paint buckets — hence the "bang a bucket" T-shirts.

The group's latest album is "Happy Accidents," which won a coveted Parents' Choice gold award.

Jonas, who has been a musician for more than 20 years, sometimes performs as a solo act, but he also performs frequently with his band. Farmer travels about 10 days a month with Jonas and the rest of the band — "all up and down the East Coast," she says.

Ashley met Jonas at Hit Music Studio in Spencer, where she sometimes works doing background vocals.

She happened to be there on a day that Jonas was there as well, and they ended up singing together.

"You've got to sing for me," he told her, and the very next day, she says, they did a show together.

That was five years ago, and she's been working with Jonas ever since.

Farmer grew up in Raleigh and wound up in Salisbury after high school when her parents moved here.

She met her future husband, Tommy Farmer, here, and for a while, they were both part of the band No9 Coal. Ashley left that band in order to work with Jonas.For more information about the Billy Jonas Band, go to billyjonas.com. You can also find the band on FaceBook and MySpace. - Salisbury Post


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Ashley Jo Farmer, a singer/songwriter rooted in the heart of North Carolina, has a voice as smooth as melted butter, with rich undertones that are soothing and comfortable. She has brought together a stellar group of musicians with diverse musical backgrounds to perform her original music and a few favorite rockin' chick cover songs. Her husband Tommy is on electric bass, Alan Grossman is on acoustic guitar, and Louis Bodak brings everything together with the drums.

Weaving their different ...styles together and sealing it with fun, they have created a sound that is easy to enjoy. She has always been a fan of music, and pulls inspiration from many well-known singer/songwriters including the likes of Karen Carpenter, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Beth Wood, and the Indigo Girls.

Because of her strong support for the LGBTQ Community, Ashley Jo is founder and artistic director of www.idmarryyou.com which is a website dedicated to the recognition and promotion of marriage equality. She is a perfect choice for performing at PRIDE festivals. She has two songs in particular that bring attention to a couple of deserving subjects: Marriage Equality and the fight against bullying, specifically alongside the "It Gets Better Project" created by Dan Savage.

Farmer has put together a group of musicians (to perform her original music) that is producing a sound as delicious as warm apple pie and homemade ice cream on the back porch in the summertime.

Singer/Songwriter Ashley Jo Farmer (ASCAP) of Salisbury NC is currently a touring Harmony Singer for the Billy Jonas Band. She also does contract vocal work, mostly through Hit Music Studios of Spencer NC for voice overs, jingles, and background vocal tracks. She is featured on several artists CDs and is a hired member of a Parody Band on a popular XM/Sirius Satellite Radio Show. She enjoys painting, writing music, and spending time with her family in her spare time. Her new CD will be available Summer 2011.

Tommy Farmer is Lead Singer/Guitarist/Songwriter for a Salisbury Bluegrass band named No9Coal. He is owner of a Landscaping Company and is married to Ashley Jo.

Alan Grossman is co-owner/co-producer for Hit Music Studios in Spencer NC, producing and working with such artists as Lou Christie, Lisa Leuschner, Britt Nicole, Paul Cullen and many more. He is the in-house guitarist and songwriter.

Louis Bodak is one of Salisbury's favorite local percussionists, performing with numerous bands and musicians.

To view a YouTube Video of this band, please follow this link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_V04WmRbHU