My passion for music started from a very early age. At around 6 years old, I picked up my first melodeon/button accordion; one I found lying around my parents’ home. During my early childhood, my parents were busy reinventing the now-famous Saddleworth Morris Men. I was surrounded by everything Morris and the tunes were bred into me.
As a young boy, I spent many, many hours alone teaching myself how to play the melodeon. Once I had mastered a few of the Morris tunes, I began attending the Morris practice and playing alongside Richard Hankinson of the Morris Men. In no time at all, I had picked up all of the tunes from Richard and could play all the Morris tunes in the correct running order.
During my time playing with the Morris Men, I entered many competitions for which I won several awards. This helped to boost my confidence and was a huge source of encouragement at the time. I also joined the Morris Men on a 12 day tour in Brazil during which time I played tunes for the dancers and played solo during the breaks.
After a few years of playing for the Morris Men, I got to know Ralph Smethurst. Ralph rarely attended the Morris but when he did, my ears rang with the music of new tunes. In time, I learned to play a lot of the tunes which Ralph played. So much so, that Ralph invited me to come along with him on one of his gigs. Soon after this, I joined the band in which Ralph played, The Plain Brown Wrapper Band. Since then, the band has been re-branded as The All New Wrapper Band.
By the age of 13, I was earning money from gigs with the band (brilliant!). The Wrapper Band played many North West English tunes. In fact, Tony Doyle (a former band member) wrote a book – The Plain Brown Tune Book – of which there may be copies laying around somewhere.
I regularly attended music sessions and eventually, I discovered Irish music and was instantly hooked. Most of the traditional music sessions I attend today are of the Irish genre.
I thoroughly enjoy being able to play a variety of different music; it allows me to broaden my horizons and keeps me from being restricted to which tunes I can play and which gigs I can and cannot accept. It also allows me to play along with different people and join different bands when I’m asked to.
As I learned to play by ear, I can listen to a tune and replicate it. After hearing a tune a couple of times, I’ve pretty much mastered it. This is a great ability to have as it allows me to easily pick up tunes which I hear at music sessions etc.
My experiences in life have allowed me to reach the place I’m in today. The Ashley Ashworth Ceilidh Band is able to cater for many different customers and is versatile; one night I may be performing at a Scottish night, an Irish night, an English event, a singing gig… the options are endless.
I regularly attend many informal music sessions including The Rat & Ratchet, Huddersfield on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month, The Grove Inn, Huddersfield on the 1st and 3rd Thursday and every 3rd Sunday of the month, I’ll be playing along with fantastic musicians at The Endeavour, Whitby.
When I’m not playing music, I’m always busy. If I’m not hard at work running my own business, you’ll catch me taking some time-out on my motorbike – another keen hobby of mine.