Monday, July 21, 2014

Musician Spotlight : Ashley Monical

My great friend, Ashley Monical just got out of the studio recording her latest record. With Beaumont's own John Evans in the producer's chair look for this new set of songs to set the foundation for Ashley's future. 

Never heard of her ?  You should.  Catch Ashley Monical in some of the best listening rooms and Americana venues across the south from Texas to Oklahoma. 

Before she ever stepped onto the stage at Saxon Pub or greeted a packed field of revelers at Larry Joe’s Music Fest, Ashley Monical had a music video go viral -- in Turkey. 

An iPhone rolled March 2010 as she her then band mate, Ian Lee rehearsed, “Gelevera Deresi” for a Turkish Festival in Dallas. A favor for a friend, Monical and Lee nailed the accents and dialects of the foreign lyrics, drawing praise from the packed crowd, many of whom had fond memories of the famous folk song from their childhood in Turkey. The impromptu backstage video was posted on YouTube, then picked up by Turkey’s largest newspaper, which put it on their website’s front page. The video grabbed more than 200,000 hits and garnered legions of loyal Facebook friends and fans for Ashley (then Nicole) Monical. 

The awesome reverse-motion video of the song fortified her Turkish fanbase.  Monical and Lee learned the entire song backwards so that the lip-motions would match the finished video. Amazing and beautiful -- check it out HERE.  

A baby of the 80’s oil boom raised by Texas expats in Jakarta, Ashley learned at an early age that the world was a big place, traveling the globe from Bali to Boerne before she was 10. She grew up singing Everly Brothers at her parent’s parties. Her father loved to tell stories of his college days in San Marcos where he saw rising stars like Stevie Ray Vaughn, George Strait, Joe Ely and Jerry Jeff Walker in Hill Country honky tonks, as a burgeoning Texas music scene unfolded. And the more she heard, the more she wanted to be a part of it. 
Ashley Nicole Monical | Map of the World

Ashley’s debut disc, ‘Map of the World,’ dropped late 2010 with support from three videos: “Holdin’ on to You,” “Map of the World,” and "“Gelevera Deresi,” each of which give a glimpse of Ashley’s acting ability, harkening back to her days at ACC where, as a young student, she starred in numerous productions (including a topless scene in Euripedes Bacchaes, no less.) 

Her career built momentum with solo shows in Austin and San Marcos, slowly gaining recognition as a voice that’s going place through song swaps and open mic nights. In 2011 Ashley ended up in Hollywood for the second round of American Idol. Dismissed after the second round, what appeared to some as failed attempt at supposed stardom was for Monical, a precious lesson of who she wanted to be as a singer/songwriter: 
and it was not the American Idol. Following the AI episode, Ashley dropped her middle name for good and left behind childish things to pursue her spot on stage as a singer/songwriter, all grown up. 

Late night picking sessions in a South Austin backyard lead to Monical’s collaboration with San Marcos sweetheart, Halleyanna in their much touted project, The Wildflowers. Ashley’s smooth and soulful voice blended perfectly with the Texas rasp and romance of Halleyanna’s and the two hit the road as The Wildflowers. They toured throughout Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas roads all the way to Terlingua. The Wildflowers shared a stage with some of Americana’s finest: Shovels and Rope, Joe Ely, Slaid Cleaves, Bri Bagwell, and Uncle Lucius, among others. They were regulars at Houston’s best kept house concert secret, Wing Man Ranch, where they opened for Steve Polz. The bandwagon was rolling along, but the ladies realized that they both had big dreams all of their own. So they took a deep breath and gave each other a strong hug, but didn’t say “goodbye,” just “not now.” 


In 2012 Ashley played Friday happy hours at world-famous Poodies Hilltop CafĂ©. On a lark she entered a couple of her songs in Larry Joe Taylor’s Texas Coastin’ & Cruisin’ Songwriters’ contest at the fabled Spicewood, TX dive bar. Three rounds later, she walked away with the Grand Prize and tickets for two to LTJ’s annual Songwriter’s cruise. Larry Joe liked what he heard and has numerous times invited Ashley to showcase her powerful voice on his stage. Recently she was the talk of the campgrounds after her stirring performance around the campfire song swap session one night. But her highlight was singing for a wild and whiskey’d up crowd of over 10,000 at the finale of LJT’s Music Fest that week at Melody Ranch. 

With family roots that dig deep into Texas dirt, Ashley Monical carries on the laidback traditions and barbed-wire determination passed down from her parents. She is a love child of the new millennium: spiritual, soulful, bohemian but savvy, sophisticated and worldly. She’s making a mark on the Americana music scene as a ray of soulful sunshine and peace with a voice that commands attention; a Texas wildflower with a voice to set the stage on fire, but Turkey loved her first.

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