Humbly Bad-ass: The Gangstagrass Experience (video)

Humbly Bad-ass: The Gangstagrass Experience (video)

(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 30, 2014)


After the show Sunday night, a fan asked the doorman at the Magic Bag if he could have the Gangstagrass poster outctechad of the glass case on the wall.  “Man that’d be neat to have to remember this night, I’m a huge fan,” he said, pleading his case.

Standing nearby, Dolio the Sleuth cocked his head and gazed at the poster with himself on it, in apparent wonder at the request. “How does it feel seeing your posters up when you go places?  Or how long did that take to get used to it?” I asked.

Dolio the Sleuth and Rench, producer and singer, have been performing together for ten years. The last four or so seed08_jodi_bergerhave been with their creation Gangstagrass. They played in clubs in New York, together and with other projects, until the producers of the FX Show Justified did market research and internet searches for what music would best fit the program’s.  Rench’s penchant for mixing bluegrass and rap together struck just the right chord for the show. They tagged Rench to write them a song, and their fame skyrocketed from here.

“To be honest, I’m still not used to it,” Dolio the Sleuth said.  “Everywhere we go it’s like wow you know.  We have fans, people that just love us.  I’ll be on stage and I can see the people in the front row, and they’ll be there singing along, and its like ‘damn they know the words better than I do, I better not mess up.’”

The night before coming to Ferndale, they played a sold out show in Chicago.  “We had this 70 year old guyHowesLocation in the front row, singing along.  He and his family packed up their car and drove from Wisconsin to see us.  It’s just… wow. There’s people of all different ages, and we do city after city, all these people want to see us. It’s cool, but it’s a lot when you think about it.”

Members of Gangstagrass mingled with the audience after the show, shaking hands, posing for pictures, answering questions.

“Why didn’t you do the Justified song?” asked a fan of the TV series.  Rench took the question like a pro.  Over and over.  Not just Sunday night in Ferndale, but for dozens of shows in a row preceding it.  “It’s a good song,” he said.  “And we do play it live, just not all the time.  We played it every night for four years. Now we switch the songsStreet-Eatzz-Ad up and hope people will like all our music.”

On stage they rap about guns, fights, and the socioeconomic struggles of the hood.  One album is called “Broken Hearts and Stolen Money,” and in their newest single “Keep Talkin’” Dolio the Sleuth raps “Go ahead, run your mouth, see what I’m about.”  Their lyrics are powerful and loud, played with room-shaking force.  Yet in person they are quiet and nice to their fans, and humble about their work.

“I’ve been doing it for a decade, and sometimes we were playing for four people.  And some people love it and some people don’t, but at some point something clicks and we have opportunities and we were ready to jump on those and take advantage of them,” Rench said.seed11_monte_albert

“And it’s important when you’re playing for a small group of people, like four, you play for them the same way you play four hundred.  You do it like that every time, and it grows,” Dolio the Sleuth added.

Supporting other musicians is important to Rench, as he takes care to bring exposure to multiple musicians through his projects.  At Sunday’s show, local rapper Audiological opened, giving his Detroit-area rap and lyrical blend.  And he was pulled back on stage for Gangstagrass’s final song, with an invitation to freestyle a verse.

Rench’s advice for new artists is simple.  “Have a good time.  Just make sure you’re doin’ something you sidebar01sponsorlove, and do it hard.  Go hard with it,” he said.

This was the band’s first visit to the Detroit area, though Rench says there is more Motor City in their future.  While in Ferndale they enjoyed some Cajun food at Howe’s Bayou and cookies and coffee from Java Hutt.   The visit was also special for Dolio the Sleuth, since he got to see some cousins who live in the area.

Check out the video above for the exclusive oc115.com interview and clips from the show.  Learn more about Gangstagrass at www.gangstagrass.com.

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