Music to Ash Grunwald's ears
If he is able to recreate his auditory flashes of junkyard blues, Ash finds the songs already have a history – especially if they’re good, finding as if ‘they have always existed in creation’.
Historical narratives or not, Ash’s intense one-man-band live shows produces a wall of sound that has made him a festival favourite all over the globe.
Grunwald is a soulful bluesman in the purest sense, having been nurtured by a grandfather from South Africa with a passion for music and a love for recording.
When Pulse caught up with Ash earlier this week, he was pursuing one of his other passions.
He was halfway through a surfing safari with good mate and surfing legend Mark Occhilupo.
“I always wanted to have fun, play music and go surfing but then I got ambitious,” Ash explained.
“I had been playing blues for a long time but I had been playing acoustic blues; the more I played around the place, the more I found people wanted to party and that’s when the stomp box came in.
“It became an interesting challenge to try and sound like a one-man band and people at shows and festivals around Australia really got into it.”
And that’s when Ash got ambitious. He turned his attention to distant horizons and began to tour overseas. In countries like Canada he is huge.
Ash was booked to go back to Canada in February but he has cancelled; instead he is moving to Byron Bay.
“I have been touring constantly for the past eight years, living out of a motorhome and now my girl and I have a one-year-old baby,” Ash says.
“We are a bit over being ‘no fixed address’ and we are over the weather and lack of consistent surf down at Torquay (Victoria), which was our base.
“I’ve got a lot of friends in the Byron Bay area and the surfing is better up there; then there’s the whole weather factor.”
Ash has made another big change. As of 2009 the one-man-band show he is famous for has been swept by the wayside, at least for now.
Ash has engaged two friends to join him on stage. Benny, a percussionist who plays a car door and Kanchana, a percussionist who plays African drums and DJs, playing loops like the original hip hot artists before computers came in.
“The music is becoming more dance- and groove-orientated,” Ash explains.
“People like to dance. “I also love the slow groove of hip hop and what happens when it’s mixed together with blues.”
To catch a drift of Ash’s new sound, get along to see him at Rivafest, held at Missingham Park, Ballina on Saturday, November 28. It’s a drug- and alcohol-free concert from 6.30pm.