Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chicago band Welcome To Ashley to reunite for show this month

Chicago band The Buddies is a family in every sense of the word.

When Buddies drummer Kim Collins was diagnosed earlier this year with breast cancer, frontman Coley Kennedy didn't hesitate about stepping in to help. He started an online fundraiser for Collins to help with medical and living expenses, a fundraiser that has raised more than $10,000 to date.

Now Kennedy's previous band, Welcome to Ashley, will reunite for a one-off show March 16 at Township (formerly Panchos), 2200 N. California Ave., Chicago. The show, which was originally offered to The Buddies, will feature the original WTA line up of Kennedy (vocals), Pete Javier (guitar), Jeremy Barrett (bass) and Sherrlia Bailey (drums).

Pistols At Dawn and Fly Over State also are on the bill. The show starts at 9 p.m., and tickets are $5, available at www.ticketweb.com.

I had the chance to talk to Kennedy about the upcoming show.  

Q - How is Kim doing these days? It was great to hear that a song from her other project, The Smoking Flowers, was recently featured in the television show, "Revenge."

A - Kim is doing very well. She's tough as nails. Her surgery was a success. 

She'll be back to bangin' on the drums with The Buddies in no time. And, yeah, having a Smoking Flowers song featured on a hit television show was really cool. And it couldn't have happened at a better time.

Q - Your online fundraiser for her has raised more than $10,000, surpassing your goal. You must be happy about that. Did you ever doubt that you would meet your goal?

A - There are a lot of people who know and love Kim and [her husband] Scott. I knew a lot of people would contribute. Did I ever doubt that we'd reach our goal? I really wasn't sure. But, it doesn't surprise me that we did. 

Q - How long have you been thinking about reuniting Welcome to Ashley? Should people expect any surprises at the show, such as new songs?

A - I knew WTA would play again. I'm actually surprised it took us this long to reunite. 

We never stopped playing because we were on bad terms, or because we didn't believe in our music. We simply took a break. 

WTA is me, Pete (guitars), Jeremy (bass guitar), and Sherrlia (drums). Pete, Jeremy and I make up half of The Buddies. I've been making music with them since our first band, The Bennies. I'll never not make music with them.

Q - Welcome to Ashley seemed to be getting some good buzz when Sherrlia had to leave the band to take care of a family matter. Do you think the band made the right decision in going on hiatus? Do you think this upcoming show will lead to other activities for the band?

A - Yeah, it was the right decision. Sherrlia had to leave. She did what she needed to do. And we never doubted that for a minute. 

We care a lot about each other, and that goes way beyond making music and playing shows. WTA rehearsed last week for the first time in over a year. I thought we'd be a little rusty. Nope. It was like we never took a break. 

What was really great was how fresh all the songs sounded to me. I constantly caught myself thinking, "Wow, these are really great songs." 

I hadn't forgotten any of them, but they sounded so new to me. Mighty fine tunes; I really missed playing them. 

WTA will definitely be playing more than we have been. That is, until they sit me down and say, "Cole, we're sick of playing music with you."

Q - What's the status of The Buddies these days? Is the band officially on hiatus?

A - Kim will need a couple of months to heal. Aside from this, The Buddies are alive and well. WTA is alive and well. I'm alive and...well, I'm alive.