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From Eleven on it was all Music...

Ashby Stokes began playing guitar at age eleven. He formed his first band with his brother (Taylor) and Shawn McElrath under the guidance of John McElrath, the founder of the Swingin' Medallions. After a year or so Shawn and Taylor became members of the Double Shot Gang and Ashby went to the University of South Carolina. While at Carolina earning a BA in Finance, Ashby joined several local bands and made a lot of friends throughout the local music community.  While  attending USC Ashby studied jazz and music theory privately with world renowned 7 string guitarist Jerry Sims.

In the Spring of 1986 Ashby formed the band No Early Closure with Columbia natives Kebin Ahrens (Bass) and Rob Taylor (Drums). NEC played many of the popular clubs around the state including Rockafellas and Greene Streets in Five Points. NEC established itself as a band that was going somewhere, opening for national acts that came through town (The Producers and Kansas). They began building a strong local following as well. During this time Ashby established a fruitful musical friendship with Danielle Howell. The two started an acoustic group called the Blue Laws with David Conway. The band was an overnight success due to the undeniable talent of Danielle who went on to become very successful on her own. Although Ashby, David and Danielle did not do any recordings together they certainly left an impression on the music community in Columbia with a handful of memorable performances that were magical and unforgettable for those who were there.

After graduating from USC Ashby, Rob and Kebin decided to move NEC to NYC. They set up shop in Babylon Long Island, built a studio in the basement of there apartment and began writing and recording original music. Most of the songs recorded during this time appear on Disclosure which is a collection of NEC songs compiled by Ashby.  It was not easy for the three young southern boys in the Big Apple but after a couple of years of hard work they were able to become regulars at some of NYC's more reputable clubs. The Bitter End  in Greenwich Village was the bands favorite, The China Club, Cat Club and CBGB's were stops on NEC's busy schedule as well. After seven years together and very little financial success No Early Closure called it quits. Ashby and Rob stayed in New York and later formed the band Montana Screams which produced and recorded the full length CD, "Mean World Syndrome"

Shortly after the break up of NEC Ashby moved closer to the City (Queens) and began to concentrate on teaching. Ashby has estimated that he taught well over a thousand students in the 12 years he lived in NYC. In addition to teaching he played with some very popular bands on the Omni Pop circuit (New Life Crisis, Mr. Jones). Ashby met drummer Steve O'brien (American Guitarist) in New Life Crisis and later recruited him into Mr. Jones. During this time Ashby became the head teacher at The Music Zoo in Little Neck, N. Y. He became good friends with owner and operator Tommy Colletti (also a gifted guitarist). As Tommy's music store grew so did Ashby's guitar prowess. It was through the Zoo that Ashby received an "Upcoming Player" endorsement from Hamer Guitars. He also met and became good friends with bassist's Pat Nelson (American Guitarist) and Paul Vario (American Guitarist). Pat Nelson handled the Tacoma Acoustic guitar line and was able to arrange number of Acoustic Guitar Clinics that Ashby put on for Tacoma around NYC and Long Island.

During the mid nineties Ashby began to do a lot more studio work around the NY area. He was getting calls from studios that he had recorded in and from students and friends who needed a lead guitar track or recording assistance. It was on a session at Omni Studios that Ashby caught the ear of  Mark Wood (Virtuoso Violinist and Composer) and yet another fruitful musical relationship was born. Ashby played guitar in Marks Band and recorded many Guitar tracks for CBS, ABC, ESPN and USA Networks. Some of his work can still be heard on seasonal sports broadcast (US Tennis Open, CBS Golf Coverage)

In 1994 Ashby and Rob Taylor put together the rock quartet "Montana Screams" with Bassist Rennie Xosa

and Singer David Lindland. By 1995 Rob and Ashby had written enough material to record

Mean World Syndrome, the bands first and only release. Shortly after the CD's release the band was signed

by London based Z Records to a five album deal but the deal fell through after a disagreement over what material the

band should include on it's follow up recording.

In 1997 Ashby joined The Shannon Breeze with bassist Mike Todd and Juliard graduate Sean Dolan (Drummer

and Vocalist). Sean's siblings Kathy and Marty were also members of the NY based irish group.

Acoustic Christmas was in the process of being recorded  and by November of 1998 was completed. Around this

same time Ashby had been talking with Shawn McElrath about coming back to Greenwood, SC to become a

member of the Swingin' Medallions. By August of 1999 it was official, Ashby was headed back to where it had all

began twenty four years ago. Ashby remains a member of the Swingin' Medallions, touring the Southeastern United

States and beyond. Ashby is very active in Greenwoods music community, he is married to Catherine Dahlberg

Stokes. They have two children Ashby Stokes Jr. (1/26/02) and Morgan Dahlberg Stokes (3/10/05).