With their explosive live performances creating a buzz on tours across North America, Gangstagrass have finally crossed the pond with a debut UK tour which concludes at The Ropetackle in Shoreham on Sun, Nov 27.
This is the band which combines bluegrass and hip-hop: “There are a lot more people out there with Jay-Z and Johnny Cash on their iPod playlists than you think.” says Rench, the mastermind behind the genre-breaking band.
And he is sure that’s the reason they will get a great response during their first time in England.
“We are so excited to finally make it there. We have been looking into it for quite a while, and now the stars have finally aligned. It was a question of getting the right dates and the right venues. But we have always had a good response from fans in the UK. We have been hearing from them on a regular basis, and they seem to like what we do.
“We have got a very, very tight crew right now for playing live shows, with two MCs. We have been playing together now with this particular line-up for several years, and we have really worked in some good collaborations that we can explore in our live shows, things that you wouldn’t really be able to do in the studio. It’s different when you are there in person. The banjo player will start improvising, and then the rappers will start free-styling. We can really capitalise on the fact that both bluegrass and hip-hop have got a lot of improvisational elements to them. I brought them together because I was a fan of both and wanted to experiment. Bluegrass traditionally has no drums, but I could really see how they could come together. There have been other people that have dipped their toes into it, but this is the first-time there has been a band that is full-time dedicated to exploring it. And so we can capitalise on the improvisation that both have. We have discovered that both have a different vocab for exactly the same things. They work in the same way, and we just found ways of bringing them together.”
The bonus for the band and the audiences is that, inevitably, every show is different: “We know this sound breaks down boundaries and borders and we are going to be having wild bluegrass-hip-hop parties that will blow the minds of UK fans who have appreciated the genre combination in studio recordings but have never seen it go down live.
“We are confident that our UK fans are going to have the same euphoric reaction to seeing a banjo player and rapper get down together that folks here have, and we can’t wait to bring this sound into the UK for the first time!”
The band comprises a touring ensemble of Rench (vocals, acoustic guitar, beats), R-SON (vocals), Landry McMeans (Dobro, vocals), Dan Whitener (banjo, vocals), Dolio The Sleuth (vocals) and Melody Berger (fiddle, vocals).
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