Producer/Musician Rench Shares the Evolution of Gangstagrass as Spring Tour is Announced JUSTIFIED TV Show. Podcast!
If you are watching Justified starring Timothy Oliphant, then you would recognize the opening music is something really unique. It introduces and puts you in a musical and geographic location which is Appalachia with a serious “street” edge. It’s very much like the lead character and some of the other characters within the show and it’s the introduction that pushes you down the rabbit hole that is “Justified” and the percussion that kicks it off is the heart beat that threads through the show.
While this call was recorded in 2012, I had a few fixes to make to it because of a tech difficulty and now it’s launching and it’s launching on the same day that I got the 411 on Gangstagrass’ spring tour. CANNOT WAIT to see these guys because it’s diversity in people, music and attitudes at its best!!
Podcast with Rench: musician and producer of Gangstagrass
This podcast is a little on the long side and if the sound is a bit sketchy, it’s because I had to amplify Rench who was on cell and I was on landline and the sound kept fluctuating but it was way too low to hear. So I have amplified it (a lot!) to give you something you would be able to easily hear!
For those who are new to Gangstagrass, here’s their 411>
Rench produced honky-tonk hip-hop recordings on his Rench Audio imprint for the last decade, while making beats for local NYC rappers and hosting country music nights in popular NYC venues. In 2007 Rench had a musical itch that needed to be scratched – he was listening to 1970s recordings of Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys and couldn’t help imagining what classic bluegrass would sound like with rap vocals and beats. The result was a genre-demolishing blitz called Rench Presents: Gangstagrass. He put it up for free download and people took notice. Hundreds of thousands of downloads followed creating an intense underground buzz.
When FX Network came to Rench looking for the Gangstagrass sound for the theme song to their new series Justified, he had bluegrass players lay down an original track with rapper T.O.N.E-z, the younger brother of early hip-hop legends Special K and T-LaRoc. The result was Long Hard Times To Come, the song that opens every episode of the series, now in its fourth season. Long Hard Times To Come was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2010, contending for best theme song after critical praise and massive fan response.
The same live bluegrass band approach was used to make Lightning On The Strings, Thunder On The Mic, a full length album of with T.O.N.E-z, the emcee featured in the Justified theme song.
Two years later the Gangstagrass sound was expanded with the release of Rappalachia, a 15 song album featuring a variety of rappers, including Kool Keith, Dead Prez, Nitty Scott MC, David E Beats, T.O.N.E-z, BROOKLYN35, R-SON, and Dolio The Sleuth. Country singers Brandi Hart and Jen Larson add gritty harmonies for several songs, while Rench takes vocal duties on most choruses.
Gangstagrass is now in production on another studio album, and can be found ripping up stages and blowing minds wherever they appear. Their explosive live performance have garnered a buzz at SXSW, CMJ, NXNE, LA’s The Viper Room, and on tours across the country. Back in Brooklyn at Rench Audio, there are beats and banjos wailing through the night as new tracks come together. So keep your eyes peeled and your stomping socks on – Gangstagrass keeps coming.
From Rappalachia: Gangstagrass-Shoot Dem featuring T.O.N.E-z
Today Gangstagrass, on the brink of their February tour, announced additional tour dates for April. Born from the musical mind of Rench, who was reared on pure bluegrass and country at home while break-dancing at his grade schoolyard, Gangstagrass mixes bluegrass and rap and has quite possibly forged an entirely new and modern genre of uniquely American music. Though the band name may not be readily known to some, many already know their sound as their song “Long Hard Times To Come” is the theme song that opens every episode of the FX hit Justified and which was nominated in 2010 for an Emmy as the Best Theme Song.
Monday, February 18 — The Forum – Buffalo, NY
Tuesday, February 19 — Chrysalids L-Lounge – Kitchener, ON
February 20th-24th – Toronto Folk Alliance International
Monday, February 25 — Neat – Burnstown ON
Tuesday Feb 26 – Crobar – Montreal, Canada
Wednesday, Feb 27 — The Big Easy – Portland, ME
Thursday, February 28 — All Asia – Cambridge, MA
Friday, March 1 — Two Boots – Bridgeport, CT
Saturday, March 30 – Mercury Lounge, New York City NY
Friday, April 12 — Barns Of Rose Hill Berryville VA Barns Of Rose Hill
Saturday, April 13 — Purple Fiddle Thomas WV
Monday, April 15 — Motorco – Garage Durham NC
Tuesday, April 16 — Ziggys – Winston-Salem NC
Wednesday, April 17 — Grey Eagle – Asheville NC
Thursday, April 18 — Summit City Whitesburg KY
Monday, April 22 — Be Here Now Muncie IN
Tuesday, April 23 — The Mouse Trap Indianapolis IN
Thursday, April 25 — Howlers Pittsburgh PA
Friday, April 26 — Crocodile Rock – VIP room Bethlehem PA
Saturday, April 27 — Milk Boy, Philadelphia PA
While the band hasn’t got any west coast dates, don’t worry, they are going to come back.
Much appreciation to Rench for his time. Clearly this is a distinctive and unique sound in music. DIG INTO IT… it won’t do you any harm. Might actually bring out some good things in your life. Don’t forget to watch Justified on FX too!
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