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.

Gangstagrass

Gangstagrass

Last week, the hip-hop bluegrass band Gangstagrass performed at Johnny D’s, one of my favorite venues in the Boston area.

Gangstagrass (Adriel, Rench, and Dan, l to r)

Gangstagrass (Adriel, Rench, and Dan, l to r)

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.

Adriel and Rench

Adriel and Rench (love the motion in this shot)

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.

Adriel

Adriel

Dan

Dan

Rench

Rench

Dolio The Sleuth

Dolio The Sleuth

R-Son

R-Son The Voice of Reason

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).

R-Son (with Rench and Dan)

R-Son (with Rench and Dan)

The songs then intertwined rapping with bluegrass and the result is great, lively music.

Rench and Dan

Rench and Dan

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!

Dolio and Dan

Dolio and Dan

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

Damn Tall Buildings (3/4 of them)

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.

Jordan

Jordan

Sasha

Sasha

Montana and Dan

Montana and Max

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.

Rench

Rench and Dolio

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!

About suze72

I've loved the arts all my life... I go to a lot of concerts, take lots of photos and want to share them. Every once in a while I do something other than a concert, too. The Boston area is full of opportunities to indulge my passion - I'd like to help make it yours too!

Posted on April 28, 2014, in concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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