Emily Asher bringing band to town

By Jason Ferguson

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The Jenniges family may take over the Custer VFW Saturday night, but don’t worry, there will still be room for you too.

The family will undoubtedly turn out in force to see one of its own, Emily (Jenniges) Asher perform with her band, the Hidden Timber Band, from 7 to 11 p.m. Sept. 30. It will be Asher’s first time performing in Custer since she was a member of the Custer High School band and show choir prior to graduating from CHS in 1998.

“I think it’s always easier to play for strangers for a lot of reasons, but it’s nowhere near as exciting,” Asher said. “I am really looking forward to seeing a lot of old friends and giving them a taste of what we’ve been up to lately.”

Asher’s musical journey began at 5 when she learned to play the piano and continued in middle school when she played in the percussion section of the band. She said her grandfather, Glenn Flanagan, “had the musical talent” in the family as a drummer and guitarist. She loved listening to him play and wanted to be able to join in.

“I have so many beautiful memories of making music with him,” she said.

And, like hundreds of students who went to CHS, Asher credits former band and choir teachers Bill and Margaret Tretheway for cultivating her love for music and singing.

“I know that anyone who played in the CHS band under his direction is a better person for it,” she said. “He used music to teach kids about more than just notes on a page. It was hugely inspirational to me and put me on course for a career teaching music where I have the opportunity to do the same.”

After high school, Asher attended college at Dakota State University, the University of Hawaii and Black Hills State University, from whinch she graduated in 2010 with a degree in education. She continues to work toward a masters in education administration degree and is now a music and preschool teacher at St. Joseph School in Pierre, a K-5 elementary. She also works as a fishing guide on Lake Oahe in the summer.

It was at the lake 11 years ago where both her family and musical life would take a turn. Asher, a former professional angler, met Cody Asher who played guitar on a resort at Lake Oahe where she was guiding fishing trips. If you’ll pardon the pun, his music “lured” her in. Ten years later, the couple has two children, Hank, 10, and KC, 5, and live 25 miles north of Pierre where Okobojo Creek runs into Lake Oahe.

Cody traveled with bands in college and taught Emily to play the guitar and encouraged her to sing. Although music had always been a part of her life, she was always in the band accompanying singers and was never a lead singer. That has now changed, as she both sings and plays rhythm guitar.

Seven years ago the couple went from performing in their garage to playing for the public, and along the way added percussionist Steve Dokken and acoustic bass player Zachary Smith. Recently another singer and drummer, Monica Barker, was added to the Hidden Timber Band, a name given to the group by  a local “old timer” after a large draw near their home on Okobojo Creek.

The Hidden Timber Band has played in venues ranging from bait shops to world class golf resorts, performing in bars, restaurants, private gatherings and weddings along the way.

The band plays both covers and originals, and while Asher says she has a hard time describing the genre of music it plays, it’s something along the lines of “Roots Rock,” meaning early blues/rock with a mix of Americana, folk, country and blues.

The band recorded its first album, called “Black Market Beef,” in Rapid City at Flat Iron Recording Studio last week. The album, which is all original songs, features a mix of the band’s most popular local favorites, including songs about fishing and living on the South Dakota prairie.

The date of the album recording actually spawned the idea of the Custer performance, as Asher said she couldn’t get this close to Custer without lining up a gig in her hometown.

“Will I be nervous? Yes, there are always nerves involved when you really care about something,” she said. “But they usually fade away before the end of the first song.”

Asher, the daughter of Kevin and Glenda Jenniges, said she loves seeing people connect to the Hidden Timber Band’s original music. And, for her, writing songs is a great way to time-stamp her life.

“I can sing a song that I wrote 10 years ago and it takes me back to another time and place,” she said.

Those interested in hearing the new album when it is finished can do so by following the band on Facebook by searching The Hidden Timber Band. The band also posts updates and information on future performances on the site.

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