Ash Grunwald performs in Nanaimo in support of the Nanaimo Blues Society.

Unexpected success: Music takes Ash Grunwald to places he never imagined

NANAIMO – Verbal slap in the face puts musician on the right track.

It was a verbal slap in the face that would forever change the way Australian Ash Grunwald approached his music career.

“There are those little moments where somebody sits you down,” Grunwald said. “One guy sat me down and gave me that verbal slap in the face. He basically said, ‘Look, you can do this for a living if you want and you can travel the world and everything,’ and it really stayed with me.”

At the time Grunwald had recently begun his career as blues player and never gave any serious thought to the idea of performing anywhere outside  of Australia.

“Initially it wasn’t ever my dream,” Grunwald said. “I didn’t think it was possible at all.”

Since those words of encouragement more than a decade ago, Grunwald’s music has earned him various awards,  an appearance in a Hollywood movie, sent him tour with Jack Johnson and taken him all over the world.

On Sunday (Aug. 3) the Australian will be performing at the Nanaimo Entertainment Centre as part of the Blues Benefit Bash – one of the final stops on a lengthy North American tour that has seen him play to crowds as far east as New York City.  Throughout the tour, Grunwald’s wife and two children have accompanied him.

“That’s something that I have done differently in my career than how other people have done it,” Grunwald said. “If I am going to be away for more than a month I take my family with me.”

Since the early 2000s, Grunwald has released 11 albums. His first album, Introducing Ash Grunwald, features Dolphin Song, which is about an incident Grunwald had with a shark while surfing. The album would help Grunwald win the Best Emerging Talent Award and Male Vocalist of the Year Award at the Australian Blues Awards in 2003. More recently, Grunwald’s song Walking was featured in the movie Limitless, which starred Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper.

“That was absolutely epic,” Grunwald recalled. “We knew it was in the movie, so when we went to the cinema and watched it and couldn’t believe the context that it was in. It was in the central montage scene where the whole plot changes.”

Grunwald’s lyrics touch on a wide range of subjects, such as the environmental challenges that Australia has been dealing with. The bluesman has used his music to speak out on fracking, which has become a heavily divided issue in his home country.

“Having the environment decimated sort of shook me and sprung me into action,” Grunwald. “I have written songs about that subject and that overwhelming feeling that a lot of us have that we’re ever increasingly being run by the corporate world and we’re being overtaken and that everyday people aren’t being represented anymore.”

Grunwald has been fortunate enough to perform throughout Europe, Asia and North America. He credits music for providing him and his family with the opportunities and experiences they’ve had.

“Normally for somebody from Australia to have their child walk up the Eiffel Tower or something, you have to be quite well off to do those things, but music has facilitated that for me. It’s crazy and I never expected any of it,” Grunwald said. “I wouldn’t have seen snow if it wasn’t for playing music.”

The show starts at 8 p.m. For tickets, please visit www.porttheatre.com or call 250-751-4321.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City council wants Nanaimo to be considered as a potential pilot site for safely supplied drugs

Council votes 6-3 to write to B.C. Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions

Truck loses a wheel in crash, keeps going, crashes again on Nanaimo’s Townsite Road

One person taken to hospital following accident Tuesday afternoon

Nanaimo company offering free soil for self-isolators to get into gardening

Milner Group inviting the public to pick up soil at its Biggs Road recycling facility on Saturday

Nanaimo man, allegedly drunk and high, arrested after climbing 100-foot tree

Man in sandals climbs fir tree, hurls obscenities at police below

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: RDN’s essential services maintained during pandemic

Regional District of Nanaimo chairman thanks residents for co-operation and understanding

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

Nanaimo bylaw officers on the lookout for COVID-19 control infractions

Bylaw and health officers watch for health order infractions, citizens can call in complaints

Nanaimo barbershop quartet records musical tribute to Dr. Bonnie Henry

Ode to provincial health officer is to the tune of a singing valentine

Nanaimo’s Lauren Spencer-Smith advances to American Idol top 20

Teen performs Respect at outdoor concert in Hawaii

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

Nanaimo will be the community hardest-hit by ferry layoffs, union says

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union looking at its legal options

Comox spring training cancelled for Snowbirds next month

The team announced that due to ongoing travel restrictions they will not be training in the Valley

Most Read