[Gangstagrass] recently brought rapping, hip-hopping country jams to the [Rumba Cafe]. It was great to start the night in a cool venue with an owner who knows your name and buys you a round. Todd knows his stuff, too. That week's selection of the category bending, neè breaking, Gangstagrass sold out way before they were due to hit the stage at 10 p.m — It was already getting busy by 8 p.m. Night fell, making the indoors brighter as your focus shifted to the accent lighting inside the cafe. [![Gangstagrass - Rumba Cafe][img-01]] As throngs of folks steadily entered Rumba throughout the early evening hours, excited conversations concerning the genre-defying GG began. Hip hop and bluegrass — what a lovely combination. Two of my fav genres intertwined. Before the main event arrived, Stephanie Berry took the stage, delivering some good ol' down-home country. Great choice guys. She opened with “No Redemptions” to a rowdy round of applause and whistles that lasted throughout her performance. [![Gangstagrass - Rumba Cafe][img-02]] [Rench], a Brooklyn-based producer, singer and songwriter, had been producing honky-honk infused trip-hop albums of his own material for several years while also developing a stable of NYC hip-hop emcees whose albums he recorded. Rench liked sad songs, pedal steel guitar, drum samples and scratches. He played live sets at [Hanks Saloon in Brooklyn], creatively breaking existing boundaries with his twangy, funky, irresistible mix, raising eyebrows and opening minds in a big way.
And a little idea had been nagging at him: Take the rap vocals, add beats and use classic bluegrass for all the instrumentation. Call it Gangstagrass. And that is how the band was born.** Over the next two years word of the album spread — and the word was — you may not think country music and hip-hop music could go together. _Think again._ One-half of the gang appeared on the stage — the grass section, performing a soulful tune, evocative of the Appalachian hardships many endured. Indeed, this genre was born out of traditional songs conjured by individuals and their struggles — their blues. Like so many other disenfranchised populations, music carried them into the future, inspiring them toward positive and forward thinking. [![Gangstagrass - Rumba Cafe][img-03]] Originally unknown to us, the bluegrass band members were also selling merchandise, notably Rench himself! While tuning their instruments, they joked, “We tune because we care we care.” Indeed. And we all cared to be there. [![Gangstagrass - Rumba Cafe][img-04]] The hip hop entertainer for Gangstagrass took the stage, wearing a Superman shirt, followed by a second rapper shouting, “How the hey! The horse hay!” So opposite yet together. I was blown away. The more urban music swelled then slowly blended away as the grass took charge, weaving beautiful melodic magic, ebbing and flowing throughout their performance. The music continued and we were all enchanted. The gangsta part of the band talked about their relevant struggles, further fusing two dramatically different eras and cultures via the commonality of oppression, poverty and the blues. I thought everyone present seemed to relate while enjoying the presentation, finally filtering out into the darkness very moved. _**Now It's Dark photography by Scott Allan Greiff — www.lightriverphoto.com**_ [gallery type="rectangular" link="file" ids="8573,8574,8577,8578,8581,8582"] [img-01]: /sites/58c8c0be2567a5853c1f4a7c/theme/images/posts/DSC09527b.jpg "Gangstagrass - Rumba Cafe" [img-02]: /sites/58c8c0be2567a5853c1f4a7c/theme/images/posts/DSC09555b.jpg "Gangstagrass - Rumba Cafe" [img-03]: /sites/58c8c0be2567a5853c1f4a7c/theme/images/posts/DSC09591_featured.jpg "Gangstagrass - Rumba Cafe" [img-04]: /sites/58c8c0be2567a5853c1f4a7c/theme/images/posts/DSC09578b.jpg "Gangstagrass - Rumba Cafe" : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangstagrass : http://www.columbusrumbacafe.com/ : /sites/58c8c0be2567a5853c1f4a7c/theme/images/posts/DSC09527b.jpg : /sites/58c8c0be2567a5853c1f4a7c/theme/images/posts/DSC09555b.jpg : http://gangstagrass.com/about/ : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hanks-Saloon/276755938568 : /sites/58c8c0be2567a5853c1f4a7c/theme/images/posts/DSC09591_featured.jpg : /sites/58c8c0be2567a5853c1f4a7c/theme/images/posts/DSC09578b.jpg