GRW Full Biography

“All my songs are short stories populated with fictional people, some of which are me. Every song I write, no matter how sad or strange, has a little joke in there…”

Gary Russell Wertz (GRW) started his musical career as a youngster in the New York Punk scene of the early 1980s, playing CBGB’s when he was 14 years old. Inspired by his heroes from the British invasion, Garage Punk, American Hard core and Country and Western, Gary begin writing, singing and recording his own songs at an early age, recording his tunes on a beat up Tascam 4 track. At 20, Gary joined the quirky pop combo the Mommyheads and moved west to San Francisco.

He spent the 1990s in the artistic firmament of the Bay Area scene, heavily involved in painting, street art, fiction writing and playing drums for the psych-noise groove music disaster known as Mars Bonfire. The dawn of the 21st Century saw Gary emerged as lead singer and creative force behind the “classic rock” inspired band Hot Mute, releasing an EP and a well received eponymous L.P. The “Aughts” also saw the release of his first solo album (The Natural) under the initials “GRW” – producing, writing and playing every instrument.

2007 heralded the beginning of an intense musical relationship with the fine artist and genius songwriter Kyle Ranson. Recording as Strawberry Smog, they proceeded to unleash a masterpiece trilogy of Psychedelic Folk albums (Purgatorious, 2&3 and their latest, 2018’s Forevers) all produced by Gary. In 2011, another GRW L.P., the hard rock inspired “Wet Rocks” emerged on the desert rock label Treasure Craft.

Gary has had a long and fruitful collaboration with David Catching of Eagles of Death Metal fame, recording at Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree, Ca.- contributing several tracks to Catching’s solo L.P. “Shared Hallucinations Pt.1”

Living the life of a Regenerative Farmer and Animal Rescuer in Mendocino County, California for over a decade, Gary produced many artists at his SACRED DOG Studios- including the reggae of Desmond George Smith,art rock band Arms + Legs and the spooky folk duo Pale Horse and, under pseudonyms, two stylistically very different solo records-the electro pop “Secret Projex” in 2016 and the early Beatlesque “Beat The Orphans” in 2015.

In 2018, Gary relocated to Nashville,Tennessee to connect with the many fine producers and pickers that can be found there. He has been a featured performer at The Bluebird Cafe and other legendary local music venues. Sacred Dog Studios has been re-established in Nashville, with Gary overseeing production on Kyle Ranson’s first solo L.P., slated for a summer 2020 release. GRW’s third solo LP, the Country and Rock flavored “Hybrids” to be released in 2020. 

“For me, Pop Music has always been a Holy Sacrament, and, ideally, a big middle finger to the Powers That Be. The 3 minute Pop Song is my Spirit Animal, and I’ll never stop chasing it down…” – GRW