Posts Tagged ‘gwyn ashton’

solo-elektro-cover“A post psychedelic Phil Spector style wall of sound. Solo Elektro flies the flag for a psychedelic indie blues artist who is only truly happy when he finds new exciting outlets for his oeuvre. It’s an album shot through with raw, brash, kick ass stoner rock with a blues heart’ Pete Feenstra – ‘Get Ready To Rock’ 

Solo Elektro is aware winning guitarist Gwyn Ashton’s new lo-fi garage one-man distort blue rock album. Full of chord crunching fuzz guitar, dirty octave dividers and slamming kick drum, it’s a 100% recorded in one take recording – sounding retro with a modern evolution.

I couldn’t have said it any better myself. At Rockbrat, we have long considered Gwyn to be one of Australian rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest treasures, and with Solo Elektro, he has released one hell of an innovative blues/rock album bursting with an originality that is bound to re-energize even the most jaded of rock fans who thought they have heard it all before.

For those that weren’t paying attention the first time – here’s a quick intro, although fans of blues guitar greats like Junior Wells, Rory Gallagher, Steve Morse and Albert Lee can skip over this part as they are no doubt familiar with the highly respected Gwyn. Over the years Ashton has played onstage with everyone from Mick Fleetwood, Hubert Sumlin, Marc Ford to Canned Heat and has opened for Rory Gallagher, Ray Charles, Robin Trower, Vanilla Fudge, Wishbone Ash, Van Morrison, Jeff Healey, Tony Joe White, Johnny Winter, Mick Taylor, Peter Green, John Hammond and Pat Travers to name but a few.  Just pause for a second and read over those names again. I’m here to tell you, Ashton is every bit as good any of those guys. Musical prowess aside, one of Ashton’s most endearing features (not including his humility – as he is one of the most unassuming, down to earth guys you could ever hope to meet), is that he breathes rock ‘n’ roll and it is his lifeblood. He is one prolific guy, who makes things happen for himself. He has never been one to sit around and wait for opportunity to come a knockin- instead – in true troubadour style, he takes his music to the people – all over the globe, and has done for years. He is always on the road. He has a bunch of albums out – all worthy of your attention. Prohibition, Radiogram, Fang It! and Heat to name but a few. Throw a dart at any of those and you are guaranteed to hit a bullseye.

Which brings me to the new album, Solo Elektro. Gwyn gives new meaning to the phrase – one man band, as he often performs solo – armed only with voice, guitar and bass drum. Solo Elektro features just those core ingredients – and it comes up trumps. Whilst he still maintains a blues backbone – he continues to push beyond any traditional musical confines, exploring new possibilities and sounds. This is one truly progressive artist who musically, cannot be pigeonholed.

Prior to the recording of this album, Gwyn came into possession of the bass drum used by Bill Ward to record Sabbath’s eponymous debut album. More than a fun fact, Gwyn uses this bass drum on the recording of the album, channeling Ward, and more than a little Iommi in fact – into the whole melting pot.  So in the midst of a Central European tour, Gwyn sets up his mobile recording equipment in a room in the Czech Republic and hits the record button. With the aim of capturing his live sound to disc, without any overdubs, he painstakingly spent each day experimenting and recording each song until the performance, timing and inspiration met to produce the ‘magic’ take.

The album opens with the stunning ‘Metaphysical Journey’, a psychedelic epic that would make Allen Ginsberg proud. Lots of effects – but the key is the intertwining of the vocal over each guitar note. What a trip. Great tune.  There’s also the riff heavy crunch of ‘She Won’t Tell Me’ – resplendently melodic and super catchy. ‘Dawn Of Tomorrow’ is evocative, spacious and dreamy – with a Rick Parfitt riff mid song. Love it. Blues pedants will dig ‘Please Allow Me’ whilst hard rock fans will be won over by the rifforama and rawness of  ‘In Your Blood’. Broad appeal people. 11 tracks and something for even the most discerning rock fan. There’s enough flanging, phasing and fuzz effects to appease fans of 60s Brit pysch and blues rock fans alike, yet if I’m forced to pick, I’ll go with ‘Shine Lover Shine’ as the album’s plumb. I dig the energy and full on approach to this tune. It’s got a ballsy chorus and seductiveness in the slide playing that just does it for me. This smokes.

A ground breaking rock album in every sense of the world. Christmas has come early – THE Australian album of the year. 10 out of 10.

Solo Elektro is released October 20, 2017 on Fab Tone Records UK. For more details, go to

Listen to an interview with Gwyn Ashton on The Australian Rock Show from March 2016 here


Halcyon days for rock: Sydney, 1979

I was reading a recent communiqué by Dennis Val, guitar player with one of Sydney’s better rock bands, Love Child, in which he was talking about the lack of Australian artists on radio, and how hard it is to get original Australian guitar rock heard on the airwaves nowadays. It got me thinking not just about that issue, but about the state of the music industry in general – and I’ve come to the conclusion that there needs to be a significant shift, otherwise there exists the very real possibility that there could be no ‘next’ generation of rock fans in this country, and ours could be the last. There was an article in the Daily Review last year that identified the decline of live music in Australia as an art form, and its also a valid read.

Share this article wide and far as a starting point! It might resonate with some and raise the consciousness of others.



ragas-coverRajas, Jugs and Mojo Hands is the new album from the Australia’s best guitar player Gwyn Ashton (sorry Tommy, sorry Phil – I still love ya both) and is a collaborative effort between Gwyn, long-time friend and musical mentor Chris Finnen, and stalwart Peter Beulke on bass. Finnen has shared the stage with some of the world’s best, including Buddy Guy, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Witherspoon, Roy Buchanan, Eric Burdon and Keb Mo. Is an introduction to the great Gwyn Ashton really necessary ? For those who weren’t paying attention the first time, Gwyn Ashton has spent the past 30 years touring Australia and Europe, recording with some of the biggest names in blues and rock including musicians from Deep Purple, Robert Plant’s and Rory Gallagher’s bands and touring with the likes of Buddy Guy, Mick Taylor, Peter Green and many more. Much of Gwyn’s material on this new album he wrote while on the road in Poland, the Czech Republic and the UK. How to describe Rajas, Jugs and Mojo Hands? If you are thinking down-the-line Delta or Chicago blues – think again.  Sure, there is evidence of that, but what sets this album apart is the way that Ashton and Finnen weave other musical sounds/influences into the mix – from Indian/Eastern, Arabic and African sounds – and all work amazingly well with the sound of dual National resonators. Throw in equal parts Ashton’s and Finnen’s unique Australian flavors, and you end up with a roots/blues cocktail like no other.  ‘I Can Feel That Mojo Working On Me’ is the ideal opener. Beyond catchy, tasteful slide, catchy chorus, with Indian/Eastern influences set to a Deep South blues groove – man can Gwyn Ashton write a tune. He sure has his mojo going on with this one. This song segues effortlessly into the second track, the all instrumental, Eastern influenced ‘Moravian Rhapsody’ – which is in many ways, a companion piece to the opening track, with the appealing slide resonator guitars up front and foremost. Super catchy, and would no doubt get the nod of approval from George Harrison. ‘Duchcov’, an ode to the Czech Republic town that sits at the foot of the Ore Mountains, is a strikingly atmospheric instrumental that scores big points –  highlighted by subtle playing, fingers delicately finessing strings, and melody galore.  Blues purists will love ‘Lonesome Road’ and ‘Givin Up The Church’, both great slabs of traditional blues played and sung the Finnen way – complete with a wry sense of humour. With its lyrical sexual innuendos, ‘Keep Your Oven Warm’ would no doubt bring a smile to the face of Blind Lemon Jefferson. Keep your jam tart sticky, so I can lick my fingers clean J. There’s an authenticity about all those old blues guys that does not diminish with time  – and that’s what so many people love about the blues. I’m here to tell you folks that Chris Finnen has that same blues authenticity in spades. The album closes with the Eastern sounding instrumental ‘Migration’, a glorious cacophony of sympathetic strings and slide guitar set with Shankar-like ambience. Top shelf. If I’m forced to pick, my personal fave is ‘Who’s That Knockin’, a sing along ditty with catchy chorus that reminds me a lot of ‘On The Beach’ era Neil Young. That’s a good thing folks!  What’s great about this album is that is that it was recorded over two evenings with no rehearsal or pre-production. Everything was recorded live, first or second take, on acoustic guitars and National resonators, with Ashton also on Weissenborn, and Finnen adding chumbush, darbuka, cajon, clay pot and banjo into the mix. Just goes to show you what happens when musical chemistry exists between truly great players. The result is surely one of the best blues/roots albums to come out of Australia in recent years. 10 out of 10. Buy it from Fab Tone Records, or head to Gwyn Ashton’s web site here. You can also check out the official promo video for the album here.


Gwyn Ashton – Better than all the rest. Live in Canberra 18/3/16 (photo: D. Gray)

Gwyn Ashton is a musician who is revered by his peers. He has hordes of appreciative fans (mainly scattered throughout Europe), and has had his fair share of accolades placed upon him over the years – bestowing his prowess and originality as a guitar player. Original ? You bet. Master craftsman of his instrument ? Indeed. Writer of memorable and quality songs? Absolutely. Yet it’s humility that is his most endearing character trait. Sadly, it’s a quality which is not found in musicians half as good as he is, who have a profile a lot bigger than his. Yet at the end of the day – none of that matters. The music is what matters- and the connect that it has with people. And make no mistake, the music of Gwyn Ashton has found its mark with thousands upon thousands of people – from Australian country towns to Russia, Poland, Eastern Europe and all point in between. We have been fortunate to have TWO tours of Australia by Gwyn in the past 12 months. What a treat. Man, the guy is so good. –and he continues, like a true rock soldier, to bring his music to the masses, day by day. It’s what he does. Yet he’s no hack. He’s beyond great. OK OK, before I continue, let me give you a few of the aforementioned accolades I was talking about – that way you won’t just think it’s me being my usual biased self. Gwyn plays electric guitar, slide guitar, acoustic guitar, and harmonica. He is a killer on the Strat, yet I’ve also seen him do some pretty amazing things on his resonator as well. In 76, Gwyn started his musical journey, playing bars and festivals across the country. He relocated from Adelaide to Sydney in 1983, formed his own trio with IMAG0045.JPGdrummers John Lalor (Heaven, The Beast, Swanee, Cheetah), Richard Harvey (Divinyls, Party Boys), John Watson (Australian Crawl, James Rayne, Daryl Braithwaite) and played stints with Swanee and Stevie Wright. In 1991 he moved to Melbourne, recorded his first two albums Feel The Heat (1993) and Beg, Borrow & Steel (1996). During that time he also played with Jim Keays, Mick Pealing and opened for Junior Wells, Rory Gallagher, Steve Morse and Albert Lee. In 1996 Ashton relocated to Europe, picking up supports with B.B. King, Johnny Winter, The Yardbirds, Mick Taylor, Peter Green and Status Quo on their 15-date British arena tour in 1999. (You still want more accolades?) He recorded the Fang It! Album with Rory Gallagher’s rhythm section Gerry McAvoy and Brendan O’Neill. He replaced ex Motörhead/Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson in Band Of Friends, a memorial to Rory Gallagher with Rory’s former sidemen Gerry, Brendan, Lou Martin, Mark Feltham and Ted McKenna. In 2001 French fans voted Ashton at number three position in Guitar Part magazine’s Guitarist Of The Year poll with Jeff Beck and Gary Moore at first and second positions. Did you read that ? If not, read it again. Over the years Ashton has played onstage with Mick Fleetwood, Hubert Sumlin, Marc Ford, Canned Heat and has opened for Rory Gallagher, Ray Charles, Robin Trower, Vanilla Fudge, Wishbone Ash, Van Morrison, Jeff Healey, Tony Joe White, Johnny Winter, Mick Taylor, Peter Green, John Hammond and Pat Travers. Robert Plant is a fan, and as is well known, Gwyn recorded an album with Plant’s guitar player, Robbie Blunt. To those in the know, none of these accolades are new. If anything, they are all merited for a guy of his standing and prowess. If he wasn’t any good folks – he wouldn’t be mixing with such distinguished musical peers. Yet for Gwyn, he just keep on at it, plugging in and playing his own imitable style of blues to anyone who cares to listen – and listen you should. At the end of the set – he packs his van, hits the road and onto another town. When he comes to your town – make the effort to go see one of the best their truly is. Forget whatever else it is you think is rock n roll – Gwyn Ashton is, in my humble opinion, without peer. A one percenter. And the best of the best. Head to for dates and more info.

ARS55_large If you haven’t done so already, click here and listen to the interview my brother conducted with Gwyn in March 2016. They talk all about Gwyn’s career, touring, influence and all things in between.

Look out for Gwyn’s new album ‘Ragas, Jugs & Mojo Hands’, due soon. Can’t wait to see you next time Gwyn.