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 drummers 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 gwynashton.com for dates and more info.
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.