Who Knew Hip-Hop Bluegrass Would Be So Good
The concept of combining hip-hop and bluegrass music fascinated me. I love bluegrass, but knew almost nothing about hip-hop.
Last week, the hip-hop bluegrass band Gangstagrass performed at Johnny D’s, one of my favorite venues in the Boston area.
They had me hooked at the very first note. Both bluegrass and hip-hop have an infectious beat. The combination, however, is out of this world.
The bluegrass component of Gangstagrass comprises Rench on vocals, guitar, and beats; Dan Whitener on banjo and vocals; and Adriel Williams on fiddle. The hip-hop component is R-Son The Voice of Reason and Dolio The Sleuth. Their albums add dobro; I hope to see them with that instrument some time soon.
Many of the songs started with some measures of fairly traditional bluegrass or newgrass; then either R-Son or Dolio came to the front of the stage to rap (I’m honestly unsure if ‘rap’ is the proper term, but I think it is).
The songs then intertwined rapping with bluegrass and the result is great, lively music.
I was fascinated with rapping to bluegrass melodies. They are seemingly disparate styles, yet they complement each other so incredibly well that I’m surprised there aren’t more hip-hop bluegrass bands!
I did not know that Gangstagrass was nominated for an Emmy for their theme song in the hit cable show ‘Justified’ because I don’t watch the show. I will now, just to ensure I get my fix of Gangstagrass!
Opening for Gangstagrass was Damn Tall Buildings, a bluegrass band from Boston. They were a great opener, getting the crowd pumped up.
Damn Tall Buildings is a fairly traditional bluegrass and old-timey band, playing music that makes one want to move. The band comprises Max Capistran on guitar, Avery ‘Montana’ Ballotta on fiddle, Sasha Dubyk on bass, and Jordan Alleman on banjo, with all except Jordan providing vocals.
I would like to see more of them.
I wanted Gangstagrass to play long into the night; unfortunately, I had to satisfy myself with their CDs. I believe that most bands are better live than on a recording, and that is definitely true with Gangstagrass.
After the show, I spoke with Rench and R-Son. I said I knew I wasn’t their usual demographic (older than their average fan) but that I think they’re amazing and hope they return to Boston soon, playing in increasingly larger venues (I suggested The Sinclair, which I think would be ideal for them.
Because I came out to see them, I’m exactly their demographic, according to R-Son. I’m proud to be one of their fans. I’d love to see them perform at the Newport Folk Festival!
Posted on April 28, 2014, in concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged Adriel Williams, bluegrass, Damn Tall Buildings, Dan Whitener, Dolio The Sleuth, Gangstagrass, hip hop bluegrass, hip-hop, Justified theme, R-Son, Rench. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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