Peter Ashlock


Peter Ashlock was born in Berkeley, California to parents who valued culture and education. His father, Rex Ashlock was a local painter and teacher at the San Francisco Art Institute, and the stabilizing influence in his life. His mother, Renee, a native of Berkeley, was a journalist fascinated with metaphysics and the occult. Due to a childhood interest in ancient Egypt, shortly after separating from Rex in 1957, she found a way to visit Egypt for several months with her two children, Margaret age thirteen, and Peter age nine, who she took out of school.

Due to the bullying Peter experienced in public school and intensified tensions between himself and his mother, in 1962 Mrs. Ashlock enrolled him in the alternative school Shimber Beris. Eventually, due to conflicts with Dr. Burden, in 1963 Peter intentionally contrived to get himself thrown out of Shimber Beris.

Thanks to the rich culture of his home town bolstered by The Berkeley Folk Festivals and local listener supported radio stations, some years were spent following the local folk music scene in Berkeley. After studying animation with Tod Flinchbaugh at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1971, he attended the San Francisco Art Institute focusing on animation taught by Larry Jordan. He subsequently attended graduate school at Yale University where he studied animation under Academy Award winning animator John Hubley, assisting him with voice casting for the Doonsbury Television special.

In 2006 he created a six hour history of American folk music for Washington DC PBS station WETA with a partner who had previously worked for HBO and AMC among other media companies in the east.  Together they interviewed over a hundred and sixty of the most illustrious members of the folk music community and researched and developed a unique never before shown look at American vernacular music. Called The Music of America, it was a pointedly more grass roots perspective on American vernacular music that asked how it was that black music and white music came together starting in the seventeenth century to create what we know today. The interviews are now housed at the Library of Congress.

Due to the appearance of a lengthy newspaper article in 1986 (see menu for newspaper accounts) Peter wanted to record the story of the Burdens and their school in it's entirety. He had first written about his experiences with the school in the nineteen nineties, publishing his memoir on his personal website. However, lacking the ultimate source of information that Daphne represented, this project had to be postponed. The turning point came when Daphne contacted him January of 2010 and agreed to participate in the project.

Copyright ©2011 Shimber Beris Archives. (All rights reserved.)