Blues Ain’t So Bad
Alumnus Jim Ashworth nominated for Grammys
They say you have to live the blues to sing the blues. Not so for Jim Ashworth.
Life is good for the 1973 business graduate. As vice president of Marshall Career Service, he places senior-level accounting and financial professionals with major corporations in North Texas. He’s a long-term member of the Pinnacle Society, a national organization reserved for the top 75 performers in his field.
The backyard of his home near Aledo has a swimming pool, putting green, zip line, and playground for the grandkids. But it’s what goes on inside the house that opens eyes—and ears.
Ashworth and musical partner Bryan Freeze are Dr. Wu’, an award-winning blues band named for a favorite Steely Dan song. Like Steely Dan (really Donald Fagen and Walter Becker), Dr. Wu’ hires top studio musicians to polish its sound. Ashworth and Freeze wrote all but one of the 24 songs on Dr. Wu’s two Grammy-nominated albums, which can be sampled at texasblues.org.
“Bryan and I decided we wanted to win a Grammy and blues would be the category we’d shoot for,” Ashworth says. “I’m not shocked that we were nominated; I’m mad that we didn’t win.”
The songs were recorded at Dr. Wu’ Studios, an upstairs lair at Ashworth’s home that boasts one of the wildest guitar collections around. One of the 43 vintage instruments hanging on the wall belonged to a Beatle. (To avoid tempting visitors, he won’t say which Beatle or which guitar.) In one psychedelic corner, six guitars adorned with fluorescent paint glow brightly under a black light. Gibson, Fender, and Rickenbacker models complement an electric banjo, an acoustic bass, and a Sears-manufactured six-string that plugs into its case.
A Beatles fanatic, Ashworth’s rock ’n’ roll collection doesn’t stop at guitars. Stashed in a studio closet are Fab Four figurines, album covers, plates, music boxes, and magazines. He has a signed Beatles cartoon and lithograph as well as a Ringo Starr self-portrait. Non-Beatles items include a framed Woodstock ticket and another closet full of memorabilia from the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, and others.
Ashworth’s passions extend to helping UT Arlington students. In addition to establishing the Jim and Nancy Ashworth Endowed Scholarship in the College of Business and serving on the advisory council for the Department of Management, he mentors scholars and graduates of the Goolsby Leadership Academy.
“It’s fun to see them take your advice and become successful,” he says.