BY JANELLE HARDY
They’re a fixture in the local music scene and, increasingly, nationally.
Now at the Beijing Olympics, the brotherly duo of the long-blonde dreadlocks, Galen and Daniel Ashley, will have performed at the BC Canada Pavilion.
Speaking with them over the phone on the eve of their departure from Vancouver to Beijing, there is a sense of polished professionalism and unadulterated excitement as they explain how the cultural component of the Pavilion and their role within it works.
As Daniel describes, “We just have a couple of performances, one on Friday and another one on Saturday.
“The first gig that we’re doing is called the athlete’s family party, a big party that’s being hosted for the parents and supporters of athletes in Beijing. The reason they are doing this is that parents and supporters can’t get tickets to the ceremonies so they decided to throw this big bash and we get to host that on Friday evening.”
They perform the next day as well: “Our second gig is the BC Premier’s gala on Saturday night, so that’s an open house and showcase with a lot of dignitaries and athletes invited to showcase BC as the next host of the Olympics in 2010, to foster the connectivity between China and BC and Canada.”
Daniel anticipates that, “It’s gonna be a lot of fun. We’ll be DJing and Galen will be playing the violin.”
Although they’ll be performing for a lot of people, they’re not newcomers. As Daniel says, “We just played a huge show at the North American Indigenous Games in Cowichan, BC. There were over 20,000 people at the event.”
Prior to that, they made their mark nationally as the hosts of the opening and closing ceremonies for the Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse 2007. And that opportunity came from the decisive click of a doorknob swivelling to the left and has led to the swinging sound of further doors opening.
“It all started with hosting the Canada Winter Games. We had that great opportunity and that connection came through David Petkovitch of Caribou Records.” From there, “Patrick Roberge Productions were up there producing that and we developed a strong working relationship there and, over the last year and a half, we’ve done three other gigs for them.
“They really like what we do and it works out well and that’s how we got this opportunity.”
In a bit of a twist, and much like athlete’s parents and supporters, although the Ashley brothers will have travelled all the way to Beijing to perform for Canadian athletes, they won’t be able to take in any events.
“All the tickets to the Olympics are sold out. They were sold out a week ago. There’s a lot of people there and half of the tickets to the Olympics are under 15 dollars.”
For Daniel, while he took in the Olympics as a child and found they were a really neat thing to watch, his real interest in the Olympics is that “so many cultures and countries are coming together, the cultural exchange.
“I think there’s a lot of value in the fact of bringing so many people together, even the North American Indigenous Games we were at it was really amazing the sense of a real cultural celebration. Everyone was there gathered around sport but it was an opportunity for so many people from so many backgrounds to come together in healthy competition.”
For Galen Ashley, being in such close proximity to the Games, he finds that while “athletics aren’t as big a part of my life as they used to be, I’ve been around these big sporting events and I literally find myself crying every time at opening ceremonies.
“Things like these music festivals and sporting events are focused on the good parts of human nature and it’s really powerful that people are just doing it for the right reasons I suppose.
“So it’s a really exciting time to meet other people and take solace and inspiration from like-minded individuals and find reasons to celebrate the human race.”
And he’s ready to be opened up to new experiences and influences. As he confesses, besides travels overseas as a child, “I don’t really know much. I haven’t even been outside of North America.”
Taking a different route than many college students, Galen decided “instead of travelling in my college years I decided I wanted to wait until I could travel with my music. It seemed like a lofty goal at the time but now I’m doing it.
“I’ve got this beautiful 100-year-old violin I got for the occasion. The violin that I had since I was eight years old was stolen a year and a half ago from my car in Vancouver and I was waiting for the opportunity to get a new one. So Magdalena the Stradivarius is going to make her debut in China.”
After their performances, they will travel around Beijing, Shanghai and rural China, then return to Whitehorse.
For more information on Galen and Daniel Ashley and Root Sellers, go to www.myspace.com/rootsellers.