TV viewers know Dan Ashley as the handsome, silver-haired dude comfortably poised in a chair, anchoring three KGO-TV newscasts each weekday.
But the 59-year-old can be kind of a human scooter, periodically whizzing to a gig where he’ll sing in front of his eponymous Americana-country-rock band.
Unless he’s off to yet another philanthropic appearance.
Ashley recharges himself during quiet time with his wife Angela, an attorney who’s equally strapped for time.
“I’ve spent 40 years getting home at midnight,” he says, so “a simple time at home, with a pizza and a movie, is precious.”
Angela, whom he married about a year and a half ago, warbles in his band. “The great thing about that,” he boasts, “is that she’s a backup singer that I’m allowed to kiss.”
Onstage, Ashley plays guitar, and noticeably sings up a proverbial storm, his slight Southern accent not only intact but captivating.
Regarding the accent, he explains, “I grew up in North Carolina so that comes out in my singing — and in my speaking voice sometime. My wife laughs at my accent, which she loves, but she’ll never tell me which words ’cause she doesn’t want me to correct them.”
His newest album, “Out There”—a collaboration with Bill Bentley, his longtime friend, writing partner, music director and producer, and lead guitarist and lynchpin of the Dan Ashley band—showcases his vocal and instrumental talents despite his contention that he knows merely “enough as a guitarist to be dangerous.”
Ashley not only enjoys singing but putting his original, personal songs out there. His favorites on the new 11-track album are “Redbud Road,” which reminisces about his childhood, and “Lucky Stars,” a ballad love-letter to Angela.
He says about the latter: “I woke up at 2 in the morning and the lyrics just came to me.”
“Redbud Road” pops up again during a one-on-one interview in a different context. Talking about his late mother, a classical music and theatrical buff, he says, “She didn’t know anything about rock ‘n’ roll and one time told me she wouldn’t cross Redbud Road to see Mick Jagger. But after I showed her a live Rolling Stones concert on video, she said, ‘Jagger is a master showman.’ She got it. Later on, she crisscrossed the country with me, and I took her to 17 Stones concerts.”
The title of another “Out There” song is borrowed from his signature news segment, “What Really Matters,” during which he regularly dispenses short personal opinions aimed at improving the world. The lyrics, which include phrases such as “watched houses burn, saw hurricanes churn,” culminates in the idea that “at the end of the day, what really matters is love.”
Speaking of love, the KGO-TV news anchor recently appeared at the GOAT My Valentine Fashion Show in San Francisco’s Union Square, a benefit presented by the nonprofit Value Culture supporting City Grazing, a San Francisco-based goat-landscaping nonprofit group.
More charity gigs follow.
On April 15, he’ll present his annual Rock the CASA show at the Lesher Arts Center in Walnut Creek, his transplanted hometown, with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts headlining, to benefit children in need.
Ashley’s personal attraction to “afternoon tees” has evolved into his spearheading the Friends of Camp Concord golf tournament fund-raiser on Oct. 2. This year marks the 40th year of the nonprofit, which provides a free camp experience at Lake Tahoe for under-served children.
“Last summer,” he notes proudly, “we had our 12,000th kid.”
As a rock performer (find him at danashleymusic.com), Ashley has opened for REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick, Eddie Money, Melissa Etheridge, Rick Springfield and Patti LaBelle—and shared the stage with Dionne Warwick.
As a rock afficionado, he’s a huge fan of—in addition to the Stones—Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and The Who; his all-time favorite song is The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
He says, “I love the vibe of it, the message. It was very much about the changing culture of society in the late ‘60s. It’s still timely today because every new generation has its own break from the past. Plus, it’s just a darned cool song.”
As a television journalist, Ashley has interviewed Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Colin Powell and Rob Reiner, He covered the “March of the Living” in Poland with Bay Area Holocaust survivors, Sen. John Glenn’s return to space and the Columbine High School massacre.
He’s collected at least a dozen Emmy Awards.
He says he’s unhappiest when he runs across “people who are lewd or mean-spirited,” and he’s most joyous when he’s with “family and friends—when we can slow down.”
Rock the CASA with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts is at 8 p.m. April 15 at the Lesher Arts Center, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek. Tickets are $50-$250; visit rockthecasa.org.
For information about the Friends of Camp Concord golf tournament, visit Golf Tournament – Friends of Camp Concord.