Lawrence’s local bluegrass scene has enjoyed a breath of fresh air this past year with the rise of Ashes to Immortality. The new band of talented young musicians has been playing up and down Mass. Street with passion and raw skill that has brought the band to the front of the local music scene. Now, just a little over a year old, the band is preparing to open the New Year’s Eve party at the Bottleneck with Split Lip Rayfield and Dumptruck Butterlips.
Bayley Kate Hartman, Ashes’ lead singer, has been playing music since she was a small child.
“I started out singing in talent shows at my Elementary School,” Bayley said. “When I was 11, my mom realized just how passionate I was about performing. She began signing me up for talent contests at local fairs, including my home town of Lane, Kansas. I hardly ever placed, but I was determined that I would someday be a country music star. From contests, I went to performing at Opry Houses throughout the state of Kansas and Oklahoma City. However, I discovered my true love of bluegrass music at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas. At the age of 14, I was selected to perform in the Acoustic Kids Workshop on Stage 2 of the festival. That first year, my dad accompanied me on the guitar. By the next year, I was playing guitar and the year after that, I performed an original tune. I continued to play shows with my dad, Jim Hartman, at local coffee shops and bars. We played a show just about every weekend throughout my high school years.”
As the lead singer in the band, Bayley handles the spotlight with fearless poise. The –year-old is a born artist who belongs in the limelight.
“Although I no longer have dreams of becoming the next big country act, I love the way that being on stage makes me feel at home,” Bayley said. “I wanted to be a singer because music is the one thing that I am sure of. No matter what, when I am up there on that stage, I know I am exactly where I should be.”
Music is a major part of many people’s lives, but for Bayley it has inspired her since childhood.
“I grew up on Neil Young, and always feel inspired by his music. There is nothing like a Neil Young album to put me in the songwriting mood,” Bayley said. “His words are just so poetic and often hold some of life’s answers. Neil’s album, Harvest Moon, is probably my favorite. This particular album has two different album covers, and my sister, Megan, and I have the opposite covers tattooed on our left shoulders. Her tattoo is Neil’s silhouette and mine is a harvest moon with wheat stalks. Two days after I got my tattoo, my dad and I saw Neil live at Farm Aid. This was definitely one of my all-time favorite moments.”
Ashes to Immortality came into being like many bands, through the twists of fate that bring local musicians together.
“Most of us met at the Walnut Valley Festival and through the bluegrass scene in Lawrence. Brandon, Rachel, and I used to play in a band called FreshGrass. After that came to an end, Mike approached me about starting a new project. Everything slowly fell into place, and we played our first show at Mudstomp Monday in December of 2010. Peter officially became part of the band last Spring.”
Upon first hearing the band’s name, some folks think of a Black Metal rock band, but in fact, the name comes from the motto of this town, an inspiring little quote that exemplifies the band’s love for their home.
“Some people, actually most people, are confused by the name Ashes to Immortality. However, the meaning is actually really amazing. The City of Lawrence’s motto is ‘From Ashes to Immortality,’ an ode to the rebuilding of our great home in the days of Quantrill’s Raid. We are a band of Lawrence musicians and it only made sense to honor our city.”
Since their first performance at Mudstomp Mondays, Ashes to Immortality has been a remarkable success story, with concerts held at all different bars around town and beyond. The future is looking bright for this up-and-coming band.
“I am honored to play with such amazing musicians, and I can only hope for a continued success,” Bayley said. “This band has meant so much to me, and all of the opportunities we’ve received have truly been amazing.”
As a young girl Bayely was a big fan of Split Lip Rayfield. She remembers seeing them play before she was old enough to drink. Now, her band will be opening the New Year’s Eve show for Split Lip.
“It’s crazy to think that we are getting the chance to open for Split Lip Rayfield on New Year’s Eve. I am beside myself with excitement and extremely honored. I’ve been a HUGE Split Lip fan for many years, ever since I first saw them play in the Pecan Grove in Winfield. This is such a dream come true.”
Along with Ashes to Immortality, Dumptruck Butterlips will be opening the Bottleneck for Split Lip Rayfield’s New Year’s Eve party. The entire show is going to be a bluegrass extravaganza of the highest quality. Any music fans looking for a fun party to ring in the New Year need to check out this show!