Affectionately known by all who love him as Griz (and currently performing under that pseudonym), singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Chris Grunwald, is a maverick in the Philadelphia music community. Loosely described as an Americana-Folk artist, his work defies an easy pigeonhole as it effortlessly pushes the boundaries of compatible genres including reggae, rock, alternative and country, while still maintaining his unique and recognizable signature sounds.
“You might call it the mark of a good songwriter – every song is different, but they somehow all sound like they were written by the same person. In this case, the person is Chris Grunwald.” (John Vettese, WXPN)
Riding the wave of a successful release year, Griz is planning to record his second album at Turtle Studios (Philadelphia) in 2012. After recording with producer and friend Andrew Lipke, Griz wrapped up his first full studio album, The Secret in the Garden, in 2011 with anticipation and accolades. While most of the instruments and vocals on the album were laid by Chris himself, he occasionally called to his peers for help. In addition to significant contributions from bassist Steve Ciannavei and drummer Dean Gorfti, guests on the album include Andrew Jay Keenan and Fred Berman (Amos Lee) and Susan Rosetti (Stargazer Lily), as well as Lipke. The 14 songs encompass the collection of skills Griz possesses as a master craftsman of his art. From a rosy calypso beach song to a wailing reggae hymn and back to a heartbreaking civil war folk ballad, this album takes the listener on a monumental journey of sentiment and truth. 2011 also brought recognition by way of the Philadelphia Songwriters Project Contest, where Griz was voted one of four winners and took the highest honors and grand prize, the Producers Choice Award for the song Already Been Down This Road Before. The release and contest began a whirlwind of engagements including a performance at Verizon Hall at The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, as well as appearances at Bethlehem Musikfest, Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival, an opening slot for New Riders of the Purple Sage, and a WXPN Key Studio Session.
"His melodic folk-tinged tunes are warm, introspective works of self-discovery that gives a feeling of hope to its listeners." (H.M. Kauffman, the deli magazine)
Born in the Northeast section of Philadelphia, raised in King of Prussia, and a graduate of Villanova University College of Engineering, Chris’ musical roots grow deep in the City of Brotherly Love. From the moment Chris picked up a guitar at a young age, he realized music connected people and he’s been running with it ever since. The overwhelming sense of community within the Philly music scene appeals to a spiritual value system within him. His musical style reflects these beliefs, as many different genres will bring together many different kinds of people and fans. Even greater than a collection of sounds, music can at its very core be a collection of people coming together. Although Grunwald draws influence from everything he hears, many of his greatest inspirations come from artists that engage and create the same sense of community and togetherness that Griz so strongly advocates with his life and lyrics, such as Grateful Dead, Bob Marley, The Beatles, Paul Simon, and Morrissey. Locally, Griz helps to manifest this vision by playing intimate venues, neighborhood bars, house concerts and through his involvement in the Philly Folk Parade, a collective of over 40 musicians and bands that includes The Spinning Leaves, Hezekiah Jones, Chris Kasper, The Great Unknown, Birdie Busch, Andrew Lipke, Cowmuddy, Jim Boggia, Ben Arnold, Mason Porter, Marc Silver,Toy Soldiers, and many others.
"Griz's lyrics have a socially conscious streak and a philosophical bent. Down with violence. Up with love." (Pat Rapa, Philadelphia City Paper)
Throughout his life in Philadelphia, Grunwald quietly and unassumingly grew himself as an artist while working with other bands of local and national acclaim, until blossoming as an entity all his own. Now constantly adding to his creative resume, he continues to explore different musical avenues as a solo performer, with his full band and with several other projects.
Griz is currently living the dream in Paoli, Pennsylvania with his wife, 3 kids, 2 cats and 1 turtle.
Chris Grunwald - songwriter, guitar, vocals
Steven Lu Ciannavei - bass, vocals
Jim Kittleman- drums
Kevin Killen - guitar, keyboards
The Griz Extended Family:
Andy Keenan - pedal steel, electric guitar
Dean Gorfti - Drums
Brad Hinton -guitar, lap steel
Matt Helm - guitar
Waldo Grunwald - keys
Mike Caroto - guitar and vocals
Ryan Tennis - vocals
Reverend TJ McGlinchey - bass
Fred Berman - drums
Susan Rosetti - vocals
Marc Singer - guitar
Chris Grunwald - lead and backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, piano, mandolin, bass, percussion; Andrew Keenan - pedal steel (1,6,8); Steven (Lu) Ciannavei - bass (1,6,8,9,13); Stu Bullen - bass (7); Dean Gorfti - drums (1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9,11); Fred Berman - drums (4,10); Andrew Lipke - chuck guitar, backing vocals (9); Susan Rosetti - vocals (8)
© 2011 Chris Grunwald (BMI). All songs written by Chris Grunwald except "The Song No One Wants to Hear" by Daniel R. Migliore (BMI). All songs recorded and produced at the Record Lounge (Phila, PA) by Andrew Lipke and Chris Grunwald. Mastered by Paul Hammond and Paul Sinclair at Fat City Studios (Blue Bell, PA).
Cover Photo © Keith Sharp Photography; disc image by Amy Bird; inside photo by N.J. Grunwald; all other artwork by Joy Grunwald.