The word "gangsta" and the word "grass" are pretty common, especially nowadays. Put those words together, though, and Gangstagrass is more than a portmanteau of street slang; it describes something very unusual and unique. Gangstagrass is a six-piece group that combines the rhythmic rhymes of hip-hop with the twang of bluegrass into one must-hear sound. This may seem like an odd combination, and it is, but like a lot of great music, it started with the urge to hear something new. Frankly, it's such a curious mix that it's totally worth checking out.
What started out as a musical experiment in 2006 soon grew to make sense to creator Rench, who not only plays guitar in the group, but also does the beats and vocals. In fact, the majority of the group both sings and plays an instrument. Dan Whitener plays banjo and is on vocals. Melody Berger gets down via fiddle and also sings. Landry McMeans plays the dobro (pretty cool) and also lends his voice to the cause. Dolio The Slueth and R-Son The Voice of Reason round out Ganstagrass with their vocals as well.
Rench introduced his creation to the masses through any upcoming artist's best friend: The Internet. Soon the group developed a loyal following with popular hits like, "Long Hard Times to Come," "Gunslinging Rambler" and "Western" which features the always-entertaining verbal mastermind Kool Keith. He is not the only one to make a guest appearance on a Gangstagrass album. Dead Prez and T.O.N.E-z have also been known to lend some vocals to the cause. Many artists are willing to make their contribution as Rench is a presence in the Brooklyn music scene as a hip-hop and country music producer. It's fitting that the two genres he is so familiar with would lead him to creating one of his own.
Although the bluegrass and hip-hop combination may seem odd, Rench points out that, "There are a lot more people out there with Jay-Z and Johnny Cash on their iPod playlist than you think." That's actually a very good point. The only real way to come to a decision is to check them out. The group is set to play at the 2016 Oregon WinterFest, a stop on their multi-state tour spanning from Alaska to West Virginia. Showtime for these guys is 8:30 p.m. Friday.
Friday, Feb. 12, 8:30 p.m.
344 SW Shevlin Hixon Dr., Bend