Good Afternoon Ashton! Thank you so much for talking with Battered and Brewed! What was a typical dinner or family meal like for you growing up in Huntington, West Virginia?
My Mom is a vegetarian, so we ate a lot of stir fry, Indian food, pasta, vegetable soup, and homemade pizza. I have ate a lot of tofu in my life haha. My Dad would grill out or cook other meat dishes a few nights a week. When I got older, cooking the meat became my job primarily. I’m very thankful for my upbringing in that regard. Learning to eat good food early on set’s you up well in life I think.
Give us an example of a cooking music playlist you would put together.
Stuff with a lot of soul- Blues mainly. A playlist I listen to a lot when I cook has things like John Mayer Trio, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Robben Ford, and Eric Clapton.
After playing a late show, what is your guilty pleasure food and what music would be playing on the jukebox?
After the late show’s there are only a few options, so it’s usually Waffle House. In college it was Cookout. As far as the jukebox, preferably something we haven’t been playing all night (and much lower in volume). Classic Country would be a good choice.
What’s a typical day like for you (food-wise) when you’re at home and how is that different from when you are on tour?
At home my usual breakfast is an omelet with cheese and salsa, yogurt, orange juice, coffee- creature of habit on that, makes life a bit simpler. Lunch is usually a deli sandwich and whatever other munchies I feel like. I cook dinner every night that I can, but choices vary by mood- stir fry, burritos, quesadillas, Indian food, grilled chicken, salmon, occasionally pork loin weather-permitting, pasta, and salad or something. I like to have as many vegetables as I can, with lots of clean proteins and fats. I’m a long distance runner in my personal life, so I need pretty high-octane fuel.
On the road I try to avoid junk as much as possible, but it’s unfortunately pretty hard to do. If we’re out for more than a few days, I make sure to go to the grocery store for at least breakfast and lunch stuff.
I can’t imagine you get a lot of time to cook while you are on tour. When out on the road, what’s your fast food of choice?
Subway or other sandwich chains usually. Feeling good is really important on the road, and burger joint nonsense catches up to you really quickly.
What’s one memorable meal you’ve had during your travels?
A guy we met at a venue in Georgia invited us to his house for some southern cooking. He was a quirky guy and it was a little awkward, but great food and it made for a good story.
Do you try to get some of the local food when you are on tour? Like, if you’re in the South and you can get that Southern Comfort kind of food.
Definitely. I always try to eat local as much as I can. I’ve spent most of my music career in the South, so that stuff is a given. I especially miss Carolina BBQ. When I moved to NC for college I got hooked on it, and I can’t do any other BBQ. It’s like a favorite football team- I’m loyal to it haha. Out West we go to a lot of brew-pub kinda places; Bison burgers are a must. Ohio has great brick-oven pizza, etc… It’s always cool to get acquainted with the popular local cuisine.
What is your favorite spice/ingredient?
Peppers! And salt, but peppers especially. Fresh for some things, powdered, or hot sauces.
Three things always on hand in the kitchen?
Olive oil is a must, a good frying pan- I prefer ceramic, and beer (all-purpose ingredient ya know)
Where do you get your recipes? Have you had any cooking accidents turn into a good recipe?
Mostly from experience. Sometimes I’ll try internet recipes or ones that my Mom sends me, but most of what I cook I’ve just learned from trial and error over the years. I can’t think of any happy accidents, but some experiment’s definitely turned out better than others.
Do you have a favorite brew/wine?
My go-to beer these days is Coors Light, but I do have an appreciation for craft brews from playing may brewery gigs in college. I like light Belgians, Pale Ales, and Pilsners. I like most varieties of beer, aside from stouts, porters, and anything sweet or super hoppy. But usually just Coors or Yuengling.
We’ve heard that you have a hidden talent for gardening. What are a few of your favorite things to grow?
Ahh yes, I documented that on Instagram from time to time over the summer. I grew tomatoes and hot peppers on the porch of my apartment. It worked far better than expected. I made lots of fresh guacamole with the fruits of my labor.
Having lived in Nashville, TN now for about a year and a half, what are some of your favorite dishes and where are the best places to find them?
Baja Burrito is awesome. I’ve been doing construction at my buddy’s studio, and I’ve eaten there twice this week so far. As I said earlier, I can’t do TN BBQ haha so as far as Nashville-specific things, I don’t know. There are countless great restaurants around here, but I cook most of the time when I’m home.
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned about yourself from your time spent now in the entertainment industry?
That having balance in my life is very important. I love playing music more than anything, but I have a pretty strong love for other things too. I need time away from the craziness. I run everyday and try to get back to the mountains for hiking trips when I can. The road is fun, but I prefer it in short doses. Its important to come home and be normal sometimes. Fishing and/or having some beers with the guys, working on cars, going to see friends’ bands play… There aren’t many businesses like the music businesses, so having time away from it sometimes is important to keeping the fire going I think.
Tell us about releasing your first EP in July “Good Kind Of Trouble.”
For me it felt like a long time coming, but the actual project went really quickly. I got to work with some of the best session players around, and my engineer/producer Jim Lightman deserves so much credit for making it all happen. Tracking my songs with guys that have worked with most of my favorite artists was really exciting and a great learning experience. I’ve spent a lot of time in the studio, but finally getting to see my vision as a solo artist come to life in real time was special for sure. I feel like I’ve found my direction with this project, and I’m looking forward to continuing down that road.
What are you looking forward to most in 2017?
Well John Mayer is releasing four new songs every month this year, so that’s pretty cool. Just playing music with the great bunch of players I’m lucky enough to work with, and trying to keep moving things forward. I think there are good things ahead, and I just want to keep working towards them.
Finally for Battered and Brewed, If you could have a drink with one person, who would it be and what would you have?
Vince Gill. He’s my biggest music hero. I’ve learned so much about singing and playing guitar and songwriting from his records and seeing him live a few times. Meeting him would be the coolest thing ever. For that, the drink wouldn’t matter- whatever they’re pouring is fine. Probably Coors Light if I’m ordering haha.
ABOUT ASHTON LEE:
Ashton Lee was born in Eastern Kentucky and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. He has been singing his whole life, playing guitar since he was eight, performing on stage since age nine, and learned a bunch of other instruments along the way. His family has a long tradition of Bluegrass musicians, so that’s mostly what he played growing up until high school when he branched out to other things such as classic rock. He went to college at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC where he got a degree in Music Industry Studies. He started performing more widely throughout college in a Country-Rock band called Hidden Still. He then began to gravitate more to electric lead guitar in college. He has lived in Nashville, TN for about a year and a half where he works as a performer fronting his own band and as a studio musician. He has toured around the Southeast and Appalachian regions and has played as far west as the Rocky Mountain states. He released his first solo EP in July titled Good Kind Of Trouble, and released a Christmas single in December-a version of “Merry Christmas Baby” re-titled “Merry (Funky) Christmas Baby.” He would describe his music as Country with heavy influences from Blues, Funk, and Bluegrass.
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