Ash Grunwald: Image courtesy of the artist
With England looking good in the Ashes series it's fitting that there's an Australian blues man in town. We were lucky enough to catch Ash Grunwald's only London show at Charlotte St Blues over the weekend. With an almost too-blues-to-be-true back story (playing guitar at age 10, learning at his grandfather's knee), and the former host of the Australia-wide radio show Roots 'n All, when it comes to roots, Ash knows his onions.
Appearing on stage with nothing more than a guitar and a wooden crate with kick-pedal attached, it looked like we'd be in for a very old school performance, but when joined by 'Fingers' Malone supporting him on a sampler it was clear that the night wouldn't conform to traditional blues stereotypes. The set ranged from old favourites (the crowd was in fits of laughter for the "eeek eeek" chorus on Dolphin, and happily provided sing-along back up on Mojo) to tracks from new album Fish Out of Water. With the crowd dancing among the tables to the strong bass lines and crate- and sampler-produced beat, and with the merchandise sold out by the second set, a good time was definitely had by all.
The venue itself got a clear thumbs up from the performers, and looked pretty good from our side of the stage too. A cleverly converted town-house, with performer and tables on the ground floor, and a balcony overlooking the stage from the upper floor, it does well at providing the sought after 'intimacy' while still allowing everyone to see the show. And if you'd rather just have the music in the background simply duck into the bourbon lounge upstairs, or another bar in the basement. Tip from the bar staff: drop in on Tuesdays for the vintage swing nights, or Wednesdays for the open jam sessions (both free).