Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page
Dennis Gruenling - After receiving his first harmonica as a gift from a family friend, he had heard his first blues record and his life was never the same! Dennis already was a life-long music fan (having grown up on country & western and big band/oldies), and already was acquiring a decent record collection (thanks to his obsession with music & his own radio show in high school!), but the harmonica took him in a whole new direction. Before long, Dennis was tracking down all the harmonica and blues records he could find, and tried to learn as much as he could.
Having been in New Orleans during 1992-3, Dennis came back home to the
Garden State of NJ and quickly gained a reputation as a young rising star on
the local blues scene working in a couple different local blues bands. In
addition to studying the classic harmonica & Chicago Blues records (Little
Walter, Big Walter, James Cotton, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, etc…), Dennis
also “cut his teeth” on some classic blues/R&B/swing saxophone records from
the likes of Illinois Jacquet, Willis Jackson, Red Prysock, and Gene Ammons.
In 1998 he started to form his own local “all-star” band, using members
pulled from other regional bands (including the great saxophonist Joel Frahm).
Ever since his self-titled debut with that band (Dennis Gruenling & Jump
Time!) hit the streets in 1999, Dennis has pulled in countless fans and
numerous accolades from critics & musicians around the world for his
swinging, highly original harmonica sound and style. Taking equal parts from
the harmonica and swing/saxophone traditions and styles, Dennis has pushed
the boundaries further for the sound of blues harmonica, while in the
meantime pioneering a whole new sound and direction for the harmonica.
Through the years, Gruenling has shared the stage with many top names in the blues & roots world, such as Pinetop Perkins, Snooky Pryor, Homesick James, Nappy Brown, John Mayall, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, Little Sammy Davis, A.C. Reed, Mick Taylor, and Jimmy Dawkins, as well as contemporary blues masters such as Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers, Rick Estrin/Little Charlie & The Nightcats, Kim Wilson, Rusty Zinn, Steve Guyger, Greg Piccolo, and Mark Hummel.
Currently, Dennis has signed with the VizzTone label group to release his fifth album, along with his touring and recording partner Doug Deming,who also released a brand new disc featuring Dennis in late 2012. Currently they are BOTH in the Top Ten of the Living Blues Radio Charts (2 months running!). Doug Deming & Dennis Gruenling w/The Jewel Tones can be seen touring throughout the US in support of their new VizzTone releases in 2013!
Teaching blues harmonica has also been an interest and passion for
Dennis, and he is in demand as a private instructor and as part of numerous
harmonica workshops and conventions that appear across the country (and
around the globe). Some of the workshops he’s been part of include Jon
Gindick’s Harmonica Jam Camps, David Barrett’s Harmonica Masterclass,
Guitarrentage-Schorndorf (Germany), Euro BluesWeek (UK), SPAH Harmonica
Festival, Buckeye Harmonica Festival, Turtle Bay Music School (NYC), and Joe
Filisko’s class at the Old Town School of Folk Music (Chicago).
Dennis has been published in Real Blues Magazine, in the American Harmonica Newsletter, and also hosts his own blues & roots radio show on WFDU (Teaneck,NJ/NYC Metro) every Thursday afternoon entitled “Blues & the Beat” (which can be heard on the web at wfdu.fm)
In addition to teaching, recording & performing with Doug Deming, he regularly participates in other projects such as: David Malachowski & the Woodstock All-Stars, the Gina Sicilia/Dave Gross Band, and the Rockin’ Daddies. With any remaining time, he may be customizing or re-building some vintage bullet microphones, or watching some Twilight Zone reruns and David Lynch movies.