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Mike Askew: guitar player, DJ

Robert HugginsMike Askew is seen here with his Gibson Les Paul guitar, made in the 1960s.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Even as a teen-ager, Mike Askew was a determined guitarist, telling some teachers he had to work on music instead of history and English.

While still in high school, Askew was in a straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll band, The Hands of Time, which played Kansas nightclub gigs six nights a week.



“My senior year, I had the longest gig ever from 8:30 p.m. to 2:45 a.m.; then I got home at 4 a.m. and got up at 7:30 p.m. for school,” Askew said. His band played Tuesdays through Sundays every week.




High school days basically consisted of five music classes: symphonic band, vocal, orchestra with strings, music theory and an independent music class with four other students.

As for the other two daily classes, he didn’t have time for those – he needed to rehearse.

“I told the two teachers I had no intention of coming to their classes, I would be a really disruptive student so they wouldn’t want me to be there,” he recalled. “I told them I’d turn in the homework and be in the band room if they needed me.”

Askew was a little surprised the two teachers didn’t argue with him.

“I was a performing musician making a living,” he said. “The teachers accepted that and got tired of checking on me everyday and finding out I was actually practicing.”

Askew was recruited as a high school senior to join the Mach One Air Force Band in Washington, D.C. He was lead guitarist from 1973 to 1978.

Looking back, being in the Air Force was the highlight of his music career.

During his time in the military, Askew played nationally televised concerts with Bob Hope, Dionne Warwick and Doc Severinson. He performed with members from Henry Mancini’s Orchestra, the “Tonight Show” Band and the Phil Woods Jazz Band.

“I highly recommend being in the band. My biggest mistake was not staying. I thought I’d be discovered and join a famous band,” Askew said with a chuckle.

“It didn’t happen. Exposure, who you meet, being in the right place – the military has it all,” he added. “You’re playing four to five concerts a week, everywhere you can imagine – Guam, Hawaii, Alaska, all traveling expenses paid, instruments paid.”

Although he wasn’t ever “discovered,” Askew kept strumming his guitar at weddings, parties, corporate events and hotels in Florida and later California.

Askew, 45, moved from the Bay Area to Nevada City two years ago for the lifestyle, safe schools and the scenery. He’s on the road three times a week playing guitar and DJing at corporate functions, weddings, bar mitzvahs and other events from Santa Rosa to Monterey to Nevada County.

In between, Askew teaches guitar, keyboard and music theory weekly at his home and at Center for the Arts in Grass Valley.

He can be reached through his Web site at http://www.dorian production.net, or by calling 271-1100.


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