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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Grunwald turning lockdown into an art form

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Ash Grunwald and Nugget, one of his ‘armageddon chooks’, focussing on the things you can change. Photo Tree Faerie.

Eve Jeffery

When Ash Grunwald had to cut short his concert tour of Europe because of the global pandemic, the first thing he did was come home and plant some seeds and get some chooks.

The second thing he did was find a way he could earn a living while being isolated from his thousands of fans after dozens of his gigs were cancelled.

‘I believe in not focusing too much on the things you can’t change, and do focus on the things you can change – so the chooks are part of that – I call them my armageddon chooks.’

Grunwald also put a lot of time and energy into squeezing the lemonade from COVID-19’s lemon. ‘I just realised it became illegal for me to earn money my usual way, so I had to find a new way.’

A new way he found and things went BOOM from there.

Breaking new ground in a new world

On May 16 Grunwald set about breaking new ground in a new world and held his first online ticketed concert. Never one to shy away from a challenge and with no idea on how he was going to pull it off, Ash forged ahead and what transpired was a genuine surprise to all involved.

‘There was a real buzz in the air during that live show,’ says Grunwald. ‘This format is no less live than being in a pub or at a festival. In fact, there was something even more intimate about it.

‘At a traditional live gig the crowd influences you as a collective and only the loudest voices are heard when people shout something to the stage the rest is body language (which is cool), but the way the live stream worked, I could actually read feedback from people that would quite possibly normally be at the back of the room.’

A screenshot from the first interactive online gig.

Something unexpected happened

Six hundred-plus punters purchased tickets and were sent a link for a private YouTube screening. The show also gave them access to communicate via comments directly to Grunwald – they could send requests and give general feedback on the show. And then something unexpected happened. ‘While I was playing people started reacting to the comments being sent through by other punters.

‘Someone told the group that he was sick and how glad he was to be able to be at a show, he was then flooded by messages of support. All of this had nothing to do with me but a spontaneous community had been created, it was beautiful.

The crowd where in it together, the sound was superb and the visuals warm and creative. A step up from the usual boring flat uninspiring visuals usually associated with Livestreams.

After the show, Grunwald’s inbox and social media were flooded with comments from appreciative audience members from all over the globe, all walks of life.

One punter said they had been to so many of Ash’s shows and every show has been different to the ones before. ‘It was amazing, even though I was on my little dance floor on my own, I felt part of something huge because of the feed from everyone who was watching on. Great job team. I loved every minute and I hope that all the effort helps float you all along through these challenging times for a bit longer.’

Grunwald’s next online gig is this Friday.

The benefits of going online gigs

Another viewer said the gig highlighted to the some benefits that are difficult to achieve at a traditional gig, and they centre around accessibility. ‘This gig was available to those with health issues that prevent them from travelling, it was available to those who don’t deal well with crowds for mental and physical reasons, and those who live in the bush and just can’t justify the travel to the coast as well as  those who have been affected by drought and fire and can’t afford the extra costs of travel, accommodation, food. It is also for parents without ease of access to babysitters.’

Anyone who follows Grunwald on social media would be familiar with the fact that he was constantly searching for silver linings in the early lockdown period, well in this gig he found it.

‘When this shit went down I was really trying to encourage people and myself to focus on what you CAN change rather than being derailed hoping or wishing things would be different.

‘It feels great to reap the rewards from sticking to that approach of being proactive and using these hard times as a catalyst for change and thinking outside the box.’

Another highlight of the gig was a great give-away of a $1,000 Gretsch guitar with the audience eagerly wondering if they were the lucky one.

Grunwald online concert MKII

The night was such a success that Grunwald and his team have locked in another date for this Friday, June 5 at 7.30 AEST and are looking to this one being even better than the first.

Even though COVID-19 restrictions have eased from today, it will still be a while before the seething masses can gather for concerts.

There are great prizes to be one including Wrangler jeans, Earthbottles vouchers, OTIS Eyewear sunglasses and another Gretsch guitar – this time a G9555 New Yorker™ Archtop Guitar with pickup, semi-gloss, vintage Sunburst, RRP $1,399.

Tickets are by donation and available from www.ashgrunwald.com via Eventbrite. The stream will be available for ticket holders for at least five days after the event for those who are unable to attend on the night.


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