A&E » Arts

Howlin’ Wolf would probably tell off Ash too

Australia’s Ash Grunwald was not only inspired by blues greats, but kept stage company with them as well



What: Ash Grunwald

When: Friday, Mar. 7

Where: Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC)

Tickets: Advance $15/ Door $20

Australia’s Ash Grunwald delivers his award-winning groovy spin on delta and 1970s electric blues on Friday, Mar. 7 at the Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC). The fearless innovator is a one-man show of voice, guitar and percussion who has earned three Australian Recording Industry Award (ARIA) nominations for Best Blues and Roots Album, two Australian Blues Awards for Male Album of the Year and Best New Talent, and three Victoria Blues Awards for Emerging Talent, Album of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year. His 2007 release, Give Signs , also won the Best Independent Blues and Roots Album Award from the Australian Independent Record Label’s Association.

No matter how many awards sit in his hometown of Sydney, one of the greatest highlights of this young bluesman’s career was opening for the likes of legends such as Bo Diddley and James Brown. The Pique Newsmagazine ventured over cyberspace to the land down under to open up a discussion on the Godfather of Soul.

Pique: James Brown was one of your early influences as a kid growing up. What was it like performing with him in 2006 in Tasmania? What did you admire about his music?

Ash Grunwald: It was amazing to support James Brown! He was an institution. So much feel and so much groove. I honestly never imagined that I'd ever see him live in concert, let alone play with him! I can't imagine what he would have been like in the 50s, he was still a great dancer at the gig and at the time he was getting around in a wheelchair apart from when he was on stage. I used to sing along to his stuff and I admire that funk groove.

Pique: Your music has been praised as reinventing delta blues with modern grooves. How far do you stray from the traditional? What do you think Howlin' Wolf would have to say about your music?

AG: I try to keep the feel, soulfulness of delta blues in my vocals and guitar. The rest is from more modern influences I guess. Sometimes the live show sounds a little like a dance party. One of my friends described it as “drum’n’blues”! I love Howlin’ Wolf so much; he's pretty much my hero. He took a bit of the old and a bit of the new without changing the deep roots in his music. I love that. I did a gig with Hubert Sumlin who was the Wolf's guitarist and right hand man for most of his career and he said that Wolf would have dug me, which is pretty much the biggest thing anyone could ever tell me. As for what I really think the Wolf would say? Hmmm. Well he told Hendrix off for using a wah wah (pedal) and he was a hell of a lot better than me so I dunno.