About Dennis Gruenling
Through his work as a harpist, producer, and a disc jockey, Dennis Gruenling kept the sound of classic post-war electric blues alive in the 21st century.
A native of New Jersey, Gruenling started playing harmonica as a teenager after a family friend gave him his first blues harp as a Christmas gift. Discovering the seminal 1990 album Harp Attack! -- featuring James Cotton, Carey Bell, and Junior Wells -- he flipped for the blues, discovering Little Walter and Big Walter Horton not much longer. Devoting himself to the instrument, he dropped out of school and headed to New Orleans with a girlfriend before moving back to Jersey in 1994. He kept gigging over the next few years, forming a group called Jump Time in 1998. The band released their debut -- Dennis Gruenling & Jump Time -- on the harpist's recently formed Back Bender Records imprint in 1999.
Two other records -- Up All Night (2000) and That's Right! (2001) -- followed quickly before Gruenling put Jump Time on ice, turning to collaborating with a bunch of other blues musicians over the next few years. In 2006, he and Richard Sleigh collaborated on the full-length album Volume 1. Gruenling released I Just Keep Lovin' Him: A Tribute to Little Walter in 2008.
Gruenling continued to spread the blues word through his weekly WFDU radio show Blues & the Beat, plus he taught blues harmonica at workshops and private lessons. In 2012, Gruenling teamed up with Detroit-based guitarist Doug Deming and his band the Jewel Tones for the album Rockin' All Day; four years later, they released Ready or Not.
In 2018, Gruenling released The High Cost of Low Living, a collaborative album with the Nick Moss Band. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine