Gangstagrass, the bluegrass and hip-hop collective fronted by singer-guitarist-activist Rench, will launch a new tour May 31st in their home base of Brooklyn, New York. The trek hits cities from Washington, D.C., to Nashville.
Best known for "Long Hard Times to Come," the Emmy-nominated theme song to FX's Kentucky lawman series Justified, Gangstagrass fuses string instruments with hip-hop artists, resulting in arguably the best argument yet for a rap and country music marriage.
"I find that when I describe with words what I do, people tend to imagine something really terrible. In the case of Gangstagrass, I say it's bluegrass and hip-hop together and I've seen people's faces sink," says Rench, who recently released his solo album Them's the Breaks and is one of Rolling Stone Country's Artists You Need to Know.
It's the absence of an MC that differentiates Rench's solo material from the Gangstagrass sound.
"The focus with Gangstagrass is to bring together bluegrass pickers and hip-hop MCs. There's a banjo and Dobro player, and I'll strum some guitar and sing choruses, but it's based around players and MCs coming together," he says. "When I have an idea for more of a honky-tonk song or a song that I sing from start to finish, that's a Rench thing. It's a more electrified groove."
The truck-driving, road-warrior ramble "Diesel Fumes" is a highlight of Them's the Breaks and may end up in the set list of the new Gangstagrass tour. Rench recently filmed a video performance of the song backed by the group, including MC R-Son.
Here are the tour dates for Gangstagrass:
May 31 - Brooklyn, New York @ Hill Country
June 1 - Washington, D.C. @ Hill Country
June 4 - Lancaster, PA @ Tellus360
July 14 - Bethlehem, NH @ Colonial Theater Bethlehem
July 15 - Somerville, MA @ Thunder Road
July 21 - Columbus, OH @ Rumba Cafe
July 22 - Indianapolis, IN @ Hi Fi
July 23 - Evanston, IL @ Space
July 24 - Davenport, IA @ Daytrotter
July 26 - Nashville, TN @ The Country (Free Show)
July 28 - Lexington, KY @ Willie's Locally Known
July 30 - Durham, NC @ Motorco