Ash Grunwald was excited to be coming to Canada for a few weeks of snowboarding when reached him by telephone in Australia last week.
“The rest of it is all hard work,” he joked. “It’s lucky for me my hard work is so easy to do and so enjoyable.
“I just have to turn up. Not many people have a couple of beers before they start work.”
Work for Grunwald is playing music, something he is quite good at, if his resume is anything to go by; he’s won numerous awards including several Australian Blues Awards, and the Australasian Performing Right Association award for Blues & Roots Work of the Year in 2010; has been nominated four times for Best Blues & Roots Album by the Australian Recording Industry Association; toured with Jack Johnson and opened for musical legends James Brown and Bo Diddley.
Now, he’s on his way to Revelstoke for shows at the Last Drop on Feb. 13 and 20.
Grunwald’s music blends traditional blues with modern influences such as hip hop and electonica. Performing as a one-man-band, he plays drums with his feet and guitar with his hands, while beats stream from his laptop.
“The set up that I’ve got gives me the maximum flexibility to muck around and enjoy myself musically,” said the 34-year-old Australian.
Grunwald has been playing as a one-man-band since he started his musical career almost ten years ago. His first album, 2002’s Introducing Ash Grunwald, was a collection of originals and covers of classic blues musicians like Howlin’ Wolf and Robert Johnson. Since then, he’s released four more studio albums, including last November’s Hot Mama Vibes.
Lately, he’s been working more and more with hip-hop producers, taking beats they’ve created and playing his own music over them.
His goal, he said, is mixing the soulfulness of traditional blues with the music he grew up surrounded by.
“It’s probably no surprise it has electronic components because that’s what’s been around me as I’ve grown up,” Grunwald said. “That’s the good thing about blues is that it can move through different genres and different times.”
Hot Mama Vibes saw him continue to work with a variety of DJs and producers.
“I knew that was a direction I wanted to stay headed in and that I wanted to explore but I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do until I got into the studio,” he said. “I let it vary a fair bit and that was conducive to being creative because you don’t put any blinkers or limitations on yourself.”
The album is nominated for Best New Blues & Roots album by both the Australian Record Industry and the Australian Independent Record Label Association.
The crowd in Revelstoke will be markedly smaller than some of the festival crowds he’s played in front of, or the 19,000 fans that watched him open up for Jack Johnson, but for Grunwald that’s all part of being a musician and performing around the world. And he can probably count on the influx of Australians here for the ski season.
“We’re all over the world. Because I’m Australian so if I go to do something I enjoy like snowboard, there will be Aussies there for sure.”
Ash Grunwald plays the Last Drop on Feb. 13 and Feb. 20. Both shows start at 8 p.m. and cost $5. Tickets are reportedly almost sold out.