Contact: Rench email@example.com 646-223-0502
THERE ARE ONLY THREE BANDS THAT CAN TAME A MOUNTAIN LION JUST BY PLAYING. GANGSTAGRASS IS ONE OF THEM. GANGSTAGRASS IS ALSO THE OTHER TWO.
“There are a lot more people out there with Jay-Z and Johnny Cash on their iPod playlists than you think.” says Rench, mastermind behind the genre breaking sensation Gangstagrass. He should know. He’s spent the last couple years traveling the country, performing with a groundbreaking band that gives them the best of both.
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 the 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 final 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 on 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 added gritty harmonies for several songs, while Rench took vocal duties on most choruses.
Rappalachia earned Gangstagrass thousands upon thousands of new fans who were eager for more bluegrass/hip-hop synergy, and Gangstagrass fulfilled their desires with Broken Hearts and Stolen Money released in 2014. Featuring performances by Smif-N-Wessun, Brandi Hart and Alexa Dirks of Chic Gamine, Broken Hearts and Stolen Money received universal critical acclaim, especially from The Boston Globe who labeled their socially-conscious anthem "Two Yards" as "Essential."
Having no desire to simply coast on the success of previous releases, Gangstagrass will release it's fifth official album American Music in April 2015. Featuring a collection of standout original cuts and traditional folk anthems—with a twist!—American Music once again will find the artist breaking new ground, while also paying tribute to their cast of American songwriting heroes.
On the TV, you've probably heard Gangstagrass in other places besides Justified. Included on Gangstagrass's TV resume are placements on the hit TV series Bones, Appalachian Outlaws, MTV's Buckwild and many more!
But, Gangstagrass can also be found ripping up stages and blowing minds wherever they appear live and in person. Their explosive live performance have garnered a buzz at SXSW, CMJ, NXNE, Folk Alliance International, 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.
"Rench’s vision has a toehold on a racy, improbable hybrid." -No Depression
“Gangstagrass adeptly layers rap lyrics over strong emotional accents from the instruments, something most DJs can't take advantage of when sampling electronica music. You can hear it in "Nobody Gonna Miss Me;" the skillful slide on the guitar and winsome lines from the fiddle fill in the background of the rap with a bluesy, remorseful tone.” - Mother Jones Magazine
“Cheers to Justified for tracking down the perfect theme song. FX's modern-day shoot-'em-up opens with "Long Hard Times to Come," by the aptly named Gangstagrass . . . hits the bull’s-eye.” - TV Guide
“Gangstagrass’ eclectic mix of low-down to down-low beats destroys other genres in their path.” - Magnet Magazine
“A mixture of bluegrass and hip-hop that might repel some purists on either side of the country-and- rap divide, but will knock the socks off just about everybody else.” - Wall Street Journal
“Rench and his friends have done nothing short of creating a new form of music. Gangstagrass takes two types of music that are opposites and mixes them together brilliantly in a way that is natural and enjoyable.” - Elmore Leonard
“A daring blend of innovative modern swagger and classic Americana cool which dares listeners not to come along for the ride.” - Hear Hear Music
The Gangstagrass Touring Ensemble:
Rench: Vocals, acoustic guitar, beats
Landry McMeans: Dobro, vocals
Dan Whitener: Banjo, vocals
Dolio The Sleuth: Vocals
Melody Berger: Fiddle, vocals