Ash & Bloom
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Ash & Bloom

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | INDIE

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2012
Duo Folk Americana




"Ash & Bloom – ‘Let The Storm Come’"

“Ash & Bloom combine sadness and joy, the brooding with the inspiring. This is pop-folk that doesn’t try to be overtly indie, and in doing so, makes itself accessible to all palettes.” -Marvin Matthews, National Music Centre - National Music Centre

"Ash & Bloom Let The Storm Come"

But McKenna and Bloemendal have a lot to say and they distinguish themselves with some refreshingly heart-on-sleeve songwriting and enviable self-confidence, slightly surprising given all the introspection and heartbreak here; clearly, one or more of these guys was hurt badly or screwed up a relationship or two along the way. The emotional weight of the lyrics, though, is counterbalanced by uplift. The arrangements are restrained when they need to be and get up and go when they should. 8/10 - Matthew McKean, Exclaim! - Exclaim

"The Music Storm of Ash & Bloom"

The powerhouse folk duo Ash and Bloom, is bringing a musical storm to Ottawa. Echoing thunderous harmonies and striking bolts of brilliant songwriting, these two are a must-see act this spring.

Hamilton-based Matt McKenna and James Bloemendal have been playing music together for almost a decade, originally meeting in the baritone section of a classical choir. They bounced around performing in various bands before establishing the duo in 2013.

“We are a great musical match,” says McKenna. “We are just always on the same page.”

CDE449Both of the artists grew up in musical households, coming by their talent honestly.

“It was sort of an everyday experience for me, but as I started getting older I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to play music as my job?’” McKenna explains. “I thought it would just be more of a hobby, but the more I did it the more it seemed possible—and here I am.”

Ash and Bloom made its first big step in the music scene two years ago when touring North America with Canadian singer-songwriter Justin Hines. Performing in more than 80 cities, all of the ticket sale money was donated to local charities in each location.

Shortly following the tour, McKenna and Bloemendal released their first full-length album Let the Storm Come on Toronto’s Orange Lounge record label. It features a dozen lyrically and harmoniously heart-warming tracks which have been praised across North America, New Zealand and Australia.

“We wrote maybe 400 songs for this album and boiled it down to 12,” says McKenna. “I like so many of the songs we wrote, but I think my favourite would be Let the Storm Come which became the centrepiece of the record.”

You can listen to the song here:

The making of the album was a team effort according to McKenna.

“James and I do all of our writing together on some level,” he says. “There are also a bunch of tunes where we conscripted the help of musical friends in and around the GTA.”

Some of the record’s co-writers include Juno Award-nominee Peter Katz, Caroline Brooks from folk-trio The Good Lovelies, along with singer-songwriters Julie Crochetiere and Rob Szabo.

Simon and Garfunkel have had a large influence on the distinct sound of Ash and Bloom.

“We are huge fans of Paul’s song writing,” says McKenna. “James and I are both drawn to great lyrics and songs that play with harmonies.”

The duo is now on tour and stopped by St. Paul’s University Amphitheatre in Ottawa on April 11. If you missed out, have no fear. They will be returning May 2 on their way back to Hamilton for a show in Wakefield at the Black Sheep Inn.

“It looks like Ottawa is going to be the bread to the tour sandwich,” jokes McKenna.

Their first concert is being put on by the AIDS Committee of Ottawa, with all funds raised going directly to those living and affected by HIV and AIDS in the city.

“(ACO) is doing some amazing work for people who are struggling with AIDS and the people around them,” says McKenna. “AIDS is not one of those causes that gets really trumpeted so it is great that we can step in and call a little bit of attention to the stuff that the people at ACO are doing.”

Ash and Bloom believe the concert will be a moving experience for anyone who appreciates fine tuned harmonies and lyric based songs.

“If people are coming to sit, relax and experience the music then I think they are really going to dig our show,” McKenna explains.

The duo has a few places in mind they want to visit up while in the capital city.

“One of our favourite spots not only in Ottawa but in the world is the Art Is In Bakery,” laughs McKenna. “I feel like I want four stomachs when I go there.”

For more information about the folk duo or to purchase concert tickets visit the Ash and Bloom website.
Written by: Katie Hartai on May 1, 2015.
- See more at: - Ottawa Magazine

"Ash & Bloom - A Bridge Over Generations"

Hamilton Spectator
By Graham Rockingham

With the help of platinum-selling groups like Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers, a good chunk of the twenty-something audience has returned to the cleaner, simpler days of folk-rock and a broader appreciation of artists like The Band, Neil Young and Bob Dylan.

It was only a matter of time before they latched on to the vocal harmonies of Simon & Garfunkel.

It is that sound that jumps out at you on the debut album of Hamilton folk duo Ash & Bloom. The album is called Let The Storm Come Out and is being released on Toronto's Orange Lounge record label. The group is performing at a CD release party Wednesday at the Casbah.

Ash & Bloom are Matt McKenna, 32, and James Bloemendal, 30, two Hamilton-based singer-songwriters who met some 10 years ago while studying music at Redeemer College University in Ancaster.

Although the album consists of 12 originally penned songs, they don't try to hide the huge influence of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, the respected American folk duo that had a string of hits in the late '60s and early '70s which included Sounds of Silence, I Am A Rock, Mrs. Robinson, Cecelia and Bridge Over Troubled Water.

"We were very familiar with the music of Simon & Garfunkle," says McKenna in a phone interview last week while Ash & Bloom were on the road touring the Maritimes. "Our parents were playing it in the background when we were growing up and we absorbed it. As you start learning guitar, I was looking for music that sounded good on acoustic and immediately I was drawn toward Simon & Garfunkel."

When the time came to record their album, coproducers Marc Rogers and Karen Kosowski suggested that McKenna and Bloemendal watch the 2010 documentary, The Harmony Game, on the recording of Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Trouble Water.

"We knew the music well, but as we watched the documentary, it became clear that there were definitely things that we could learn from our heroes on how to record," McKenna says.

"I tend to sing more of the high stuff and James tends to sing more of the mid-range, but what Simon & Garfunkel call "the Harmony Game" is the fun, creative way of looking for all the possible lines and harmonies you can build into a part, letting the lower part become the higher part, and the higher part become the lower part. So there are moments (on the record) where James is higher than I am and then we sort of criss-cross back and forth.

"For us, that is just so fun."

For the recording of the album, McKenna, Bloemendal and their production team rented a cottage near Owen Sound and spent a week in relative isolation with microphones at the ready at any time of day.

The 12 songs they recorded are lyrically rich, some times pulling at the heartstrings on tracks like If You Stay and You Need More Than Love, while taking a comedic turn on Heaven Is A Ghost.

One of the stand out tracks, This Town (Hamilton) is about the split personality of the duo's adopted city. McKenna is originally from Brampton, while McKenna grew up in Caledonia. Neither musician had much of an opinion of Hamilton when they first came here for school.

"To be honest we didn't think we would stay," McKenna admits. "You know the reputation Hamilton has for people who are outside of Hamilton. We just thought, to be perfectly frank, that we thought it was going to be an old stinky town.

"As we stayed it grew on us. We found wonderful little neighbourhoods and met a bunch of people. Now we call it home and we couldn't really think of living anywhere else."

905-526-3331 | @RockatTheSpec - Hamilton Spectator

"Ash & Bloom"

The words ‘incredible harmonies’ and ‘brilliant song writing’ most succinctly describe Ash & Bloom. This powerhouse duo beautifully masters the heart-warming sound of two people playing and singing together in a modern Simon & Garfunkel kind of way. Their debut full-length album, Let The Storm Come, released in North America in 2014, and earlier this year in Australia and New Zealand, has garnered positive press and extensive play. It was followed by an Australian tour, sold-out audiences, and performances alongside artists like Buffy Sainte-Marie and Sinead O’Connor. To our great fortune, their tour of Canada and the U.S. this Spring and Summer brings them to our Mariposa stage. - Mariposa Folk

"Featured Artist - Ash & Bloom"

Hello Ash & Bloom, the Hamilton based duo that will give music some life.

Matt McKenna and James Bloemendal met over a decade ago and have been creating music ever since. According to a press release, have crafted a sound that requires two people playing and singing together. They worked on their songs for years before releasing them to the public. Their full-length album Let The Storm Come will be released June 24 and contain 12 original songs. Previously, they released a four-song EP in November 2013.

Since hearing about the duo, I’ve been listening to “Let The Storm Come” on repeat. The lyrics and vocals are perfect and the harmony between both men is truly beautiful to listen to. They have been compared to Iron & Wine and Simon & Garfunkel, artists that both have amazing ballads under their belt.

They will be touring Canada to promote the album (dates below). Also, give “Let The Storm Come” (AKA the song I’m currently obsessed with) a listen! - Best Fan


Let The Storm Come - Australian Release 2015

Let The Storm Come - Canadian / US Release - June 23, 2014

Ash & Bloom EP- November 2013



Ash & Bloom (Matt McKenna and James Bloemendal) have quickly become a powerhouse duo, taking their music worldwide; performing at some of the biggest festivals across the globe. Ash & Bloom have crafted a sound that requires two people playing and singing together, a sound reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel but with a fresh, modern day twist.

In 2013, they joined singer-songwriter Justin Hines on the Vehicle of Change Tour from June to October, travelling over 20,000 kms across North America. 100% of ticket sales from each show went back to local charities and the band successfully helped raise funds and awareness in each city they visited.

Ash & Bloom’s debut full-length album titled “Let The Storm Come” was released on June 24th, 2014 in North America, featuring songs co-written by Peter Katz, Caroline Brooks (The Good Lovelies), Julie Crochietere and Rob Szabo. The album has garnered positive press across the globe and has received extensive play on CBC coast to coast, including a Song of the Week feature for “Manna for My Soul”.

“Let The Storm Come” was released in Australia and New Zealand on Feb 6th, which launched an Australian tour; where they played a sold-out show and performed 4 times at the renowned Port Fairy Folk Festival, alongside acts like Buffy Sainte-Marie and Sinead O’Connor.

Ash & Bloom will also bring their tour across Canada and the U.S, Spring and Summer 2015.

Band Members