Ian grew up around music and always loved to play
Ian Ashford and the Solidarity Band released their song “Ally” ahead of the release of a second album later in the year.
A native of Stillorgan and living in France, Ian maintains close ties with Bray.
Her late father Paul Ashford was a renowned musician, member of the Miami Showband and later of Stepaside.
“As the name of the song suggests, it was written for anyone who needs a friend through tough times, something that we think could resonate with people given the world we live in. Ian said.
Ian’s father, Paul, grew up on Dargle Road and formed a band called The Chosen Few with the late Fran O’Toole, also later a member of the Miami Showband. Paul is buried in Springfield Cemetery in Bray.
One of his “Stepaside” songs, “The Last Resort”, was written about his hometown.
Fran was one of the group members murdered in what became known as the Miami Showband Massacre on July 31, 1975.
Loyalist paramilitary group UVF ambushed the group on the A1 at Buskhill in County Down.
Five people were killed, including three Miami operatives – Fran O’Toole, Brian McCoy and Anthony Geraghty, and two of the gunmen.
“His death was a big blow,” Ian said. “Brian McCoy was his witness. He lost close friends at a young age, very violently.
“ Dad worked in Industrial Yarns in Bray after his grandmother passed away. And he continued to live with Marie and Noel Vickers on Boghall Road. He was with them until he was in Miami just before he married my mom
“He and Fran were great friends. They created a band before The Miami called The Chosen Few which was really popular. They played Wilson Picket numbers and things like that.
The Miami is looking for Paul and Fran. Paul was with the group for six or seven years, and he left a few months before the murders.
“After the Miami tragedy, it was a huge shock to the family,” Ian said.
Its repercussions were felt in all families, creating a certain fear and a ripple effect of far-reaching trauma.
“The atrocity must be honored each year on the anniversary date, not hidden. It is a trauma that must be healed through proper debate and discussion.
“It was an assault on Irish culture, against musicians and poetry. Suddenly musicians had been murdered. It hit the fear of God in people who are having fun, being creative, or doing anything to help people be happy.
“They were doing concerts in the north with Catholics and Protestants at all the concerts. It was a coming together of communities through music, it was a wonderful thing. And somebody decided it wouldn’t happen again, and they murdered them.
“It’s still there in the house, it’s part of our history, it’s part of our family history. Hopefully something like this never happens again.
Ian was about three years old at the time and remembers knowing something terrible had happened, if not what.
He grew up with the music around him.
“ Dad went to Berklee to study in the US and when he came back he was in a group called Stepaside who was big in Dublin at the time
“ He was on tour with the Fury brothers so I would be in the studio with the Furies when I was a little guy. You were just around the music. Your father’s bass case is there, and there was a spirit of music.
Ian also had a clear vision of the reality around life as a concert musician.
“ I saw my father’s life and it’s a difficult life for a musician even if you do well, especially in the old days. He would be in bars in the middle of the day trying to get concerts. Then play and not have the chance to write songs.
“I saw behind the curtain, it’s not a glamorous life! There is a lot of insecurity in there without a stable salary. Unless you are very successful, it is a transplant.
Ian studied psychology in college, and this knowledge and understanding of the human condition, along with a few years of life, informed his songs and their subjects.
“I have always tried music and writing,” he said. “Five or six years ago I started to finish songs. I released an album a few years ago and just finished a second one.
“Finishing the songs was the hardest part, and I got there a bit later. In life, these things happen when they happen.
After college he went to the United States and worked in California for a few years.
“ In Ireland you are supposed to be 28 before you get involved in psychology work, so at 28 I worked at Aware for two or three years and did outreach work – psychology of the ‘education around depression and studied cognitive psychology at Trinity’.
Ian’s ex-partner is French and returned there with their young son after their separation, so Ian also moved in order to be close to their son, who is now 18.
“I came back to music and got stuck in the project when it got a little older,” Ian said.
He plays guitar and bass, but his specialty is songwriting. He collaborates with a group of musicians, the “Solidarity Band”, to finish and produce the material.
“It’s a team effort,” Ian said. “I write the melody and the lyrics and we work together on the arrangement and the production.
They work remotely to build the songs, being located in various countries around the world. “It works really well. Everything is possible with technology. ‘
Ian said he couldn’t have made the album without the contributions of his collaborators.
Ally started out as a song for himself, the idea being to be a best friend to yourself, and in turn to be a best friend to the people around you.
“It’s evolved a lot more,” Ian said.
“We had a few Asian friends and people in the United States when the hate crimes started. We decided in the video to take a stand against hate crime and support victims for no reason at all. It’s anti-bullying, anti-slander, gossip.
The message of the song is to call people out on negativity, stand by their friends, and stand up for people.
The rest of the songs on the album are on a variety of themes, including childhood memories with Ian’s cousins, the Robinsons in Bray, and the O’Donnells in Greystones.
“It took a lot of patience and time to write them down, trying to find the right words and be true.
“My Aunt Betty (and Peter) Robinson lived in Oldcourt. I was very close to my cousins Sinead, David and Brian Robinson. They used to come to Stillorgan to my grandfather’s and I would come back to them on a Saturday night. I have cousins in Greystones Eoin, Aoife, Deirdre and AnneMarie and I spent time there too.
Ally is available on all streaming platforms. There is a video on YouTube and the song was recently added to RTÉ Recommend Playlist. “I was delighted to have received the nod,” Ian said.
The album ‘Inheritance’ will be available later in the year, hopefully with some live performances to follow, Covid regulations allow it.
“Nobody knows what’s going to happen on this front just yet,” said Ian, who said the debut album, Symbols, was released just as the pandemic started, so it wasn’t possible. to play.
Creating music during Covid helped him stay focused. “You have a project to do, and the music is really therapeutic, especially in times like this,” he said. “It was very helpful for everyone in the project to keep morale up.”
And the memory of those musicians who were killed is never far from his mind.
“Music will prevail. It’s part of my story, I’m standing and I will continue to spread the word about The Miami and what happened because it needs to be talked about.
“We (the musicians) did not curl up to hide. We stand up and say we’re still here, ”he said.
The people of Wicklow