Live Review: Ash Grunwald, Kim Churchill, Felipe Baldomir, and Steph Strings at Drifter’s Wharf, Gosford – 27 Jan 2023

Review and photos by Peter Coates –

Good Vibes Tribe at Drifter’s Wharf, Gosford.  27th Jan 2023

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Ash-Grunwald-GVT-270123-9302-560x373.jpg

The extraordinarily talented Steph Strings from San Remo, VIC opened the show on a steamy summer evening on the water in Gosford, and was the surprise package of the night.  A really fresh guitar, harmonica and percussion soloist, showing off some flamenco style and really delicate playing that was mostly instrumental because of “my terrible voice”! That turned out wrong too as Steph showed a clear and pure tone with some ethereal vocals that combined really well with the guitar.

She did a duet with Kim Churchill on Catacombs, showing off some darker harmonies and a pulsating beat that burst into double time and showed some frenetic pace on the guitar.  Joyous gave us hints of Sheryl Crow or Suzanne Vega, but she was at her best when in full flight on the guitar, closing the show with Lion which was something of an epic.

Felipe Baldomir hails from Uruguay, and comes across as a very chilled out surf-muso, who turns out to have a real talent on the saxophone, as well as the guitar.  His use of complex loops with guitar, beats, drums and the sax made this a multi-layered experience.  Kim C got up again to add harmonica to one of the tracks, and the wonderful Chasing The Sun was an extended jam that allowed Felipe to show off all his talents one by one, over the top of the ever-evolving loops.  Mix John Butler with Kenny G and you might get a sense of the vibe here!

Kim Churchill from Merimbula is better known, and part of the mellow, chilled out rootsy guitar and beats crew that Australia does so well.  He opened with Loving Home, the first song he wrote, and has a new album out next week called Dawn Sounds.  Something of an Al Stewart-style troubadour, with a alight vocal touch, Kim comes alive on the harmonica, while multi-tasking on guitar and kick-drum.  Steph Strings joined on vocals for a duet of Please Come Home, and then Kim’s crew of Josh on Cello and Gabe on Drums brought a real jam-band vibe to the show.  Felipe joined on sax for a rousing You’re My Window To The Sky to close this set of summer sounds.

The multi-talented Ash Grunwald took some time to get the stage set after the complexites of the three previous acts, but once the crew had it sorted, he strolled onstage, sat down on the rhythm box, and dove straight into the grungy swamp blues of Smokestack Lightning, before running through I Want You To Know, and Hammer, which both featured lots of singalong crowd vocals.  The Gretsch got a real workout tonight, and the rich lush tones of this guitar really add to the overall sound, with an awesome exhibition of riffing thrown in before the close.   A new one, Tell It Like It Is showed Ash’s Jimi Hendrix influences with some inspired lead breaks, and then we got a blistering rendition of Skywriter before Felipe joined in on sax for a jam of Mojo that was nicely unrehearsed. 

The slide guitar and bottleneck came out for the Grunwald/Teskey single Think About Myself, and them Kim joined to add some wailing harmonica to Shout Into The Noise, and this rolled into a rollicking stoming blues jam with Just Can’t Help Myself, and a tasty guitar / harminoca slide off!  Ash gave us Sail, and a rapid-fire version of The Dolphin Song on request, before Steph brought her guitar up to join Ash on the Resonator for a new song, Chains.  This gave us an impressive contrast in guitar styles and sounds, with some frenetic flamenco over a raucous steel guitar riff.  She stayed for Just Be Yourself, which turned into another guitar battle, before Ash reluctantly began to close the show, with a stomping workout of Fish Out Of Water, before ripping into a medley of swampy blues rock, with Breakout and Walking as the featured tracks.

As the lights were about to come on as we were way over time, the whole of the Good Vibes Tribe got up for a mesmerising version of Ain’t No Sunshine which was a glorious way to end the night.