Ash Grunwald (born Ashley Mark Groenewald, 5 September 1976) is an Australian blues/soul/roots/ bluegrass musician. Ash had singing lessons at Vox Singing Academy with principal and headteacher Peter Vox in the mid to late 90s. He has issued eight studio albums and has received five nominations for ARIA Music Awards. Four releases peaked in the ARIA Albums Chart top 50: Fish out of Water (September 2008), Hot Mama Vibes (June 2010), Trouble’s Door (May 2012) and Gargantua (by Grunwald, Scot Owen and Andy Strachan, July 2013).
In 2004 Ash released his follow up album I Don’t Believe, once again recorded solo and live. Since his initial release he had been made aware of two Tom Waits albums, Swordfishtrombones and Bone Machine. As a result, he emulates Waits’ experimental bang and clang percussion using hammers, spanners, pots etc., in addition to a boss loop station as a bed for his lap steel, dobro and acoustic guitars. The album included six originals, two Waits compositions, “Going Out West” and “Jesus Gonna Be Here” (a cappela with hand claps) and blues standards “Walking Blues” and “Cross Roads” (Robert Johnson), “Empire State” (Son House) and “How Many More Years” (Howlin’ Wolf).
In May 2005, Grunwald was invited to take over as host of Triple J’s Thursday night show ‘Roots N All’.
In August 2006 Grunwald released Give Signs recorded on his own record label, Delta Groove Records. As with preceding albums it was recorded live and solo which received another ARIA Award nomination for ‘Best Blues and Roots Album’. In 2006, Grunwald supported James Brown at his Tasmanian concert.
On 21 December 2006 Grunwald finished his role as a Triple J presenter. In September 2007 he was nominated for another ARIA award for Best Blues and Roots Album.
Ash released his next studio album, Fish Out of Water on 30 August 2008, with the album reaching No. 43 on the ARIA charts. The new album was greeted with positive reviews with many of the critics saying it is one of the best blues/roots albums of the year and a career highlight for Ash. The new album which was written with TZU’s beatsmith Phillip Norman (aka Countbounce) enters new territory for Grunwald with many of the songs gaining a hip hop edge to Ash’s traditional Delta blues. Several tracks gained significant airplay on the national youth broadcaster Triple J some of these included “Breakout”, “Devil Called Me A Liar” and “Joke on Me”. The album was also nominated ‘Best Blues and Roots Album’ at the 2009 ARIA Awards.
Grunwald appeared for the first time in a Triple J Hottest 100 with one entry in the 2008 countdown, with “Breakout” reaching number 50.
In October 2009 Grunwald recorded a performance at Fremantle’s Fly By Night club for a release as a live album in early 2010.He also revealed in an interview with Sarah Howells of Triple J that he has started work on a new studio album.
Ash Grunwald’s fifth studio album, Hot Mama Vibes was released 4 June 2010. It was recorded at Alchemix Studio in Brisbane, DJ Debris Studio in the Adelaide Hills and The Container in Melbourne. The Album features contributions from Mr Trials, Countbounce, Chasm, Fingers Malone, Benny Owen and Kanchana Karunaratna.
After the success of 2010’s Hot Mama Vibes, Ash Grunwald relocated with his family to the warmer shores of Byron Bay, Northern NSW. A new home with a new home studio was built, and it was here that the recording began for the 2012 album Trouble’s Door. Teaming up with his good friend and dubstep sideproject partner, Fingers (Colin O’Reily) Ash created his most internal and political album to date.
Throughout 2014 Ash toured rigorously overseas, most significantly venturing out on his groundbreaking debut tour of the United States in support of his close friend Xavier Rudd. With Rudd’s well established US profile, Ash was enabled access to some of the most iconic stages in America including The Brooklyn Bowl and the famed Fillmore in San Francisco. During that trip he was awarded the LA Music Critic Award for Best International Act.
In late 2014, Ash headed back into the studio, this time taking with him Ian Perez keyboardist for Wolfmother and Pete Wilkins, former drummer for Blue King Brown. Under the guidance of famed American Producer Nick DiDia (Springsteen, Rage Against The Machine, Pearl Jam, Powderfinger) an intense focus was brought onto the structure of song composition, to record an album that has been described sonically as ‘psychedelic blues using synth rather than stringed bass’ and conceptually as ‘strongly political, rumbling from the depths of internal rage.’ The title of the album was unveiled in February 2015 as NOW, along with a photo of Grunwald without his dreadlocks, which he has worn for the past 20 years. The album was subsequently released on 25 September.
With the release of the new album worldwide success and the world tour quickly followed. The NOW album was critically acclaimed and well received across all genres but especially in the blues and roots seen. Ash is an amazing Singer and guitarist and he’s live set list is now jampacked with he’s biggest hits. Be sure to see him next time he’s in town.