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Presented By NTL Productions


Ages 18+
Gangstagrass live at The Castle Theatre on Tuesday, May 14th

Gangstagrass with special guests Wes Duffy Trio

Doors: 6:30 PM / Show: 7:30 PM

$12 (Advance) / $15 (Day of Show)

Ticket Prices listed do NOT include additional Ticket Fees added at online checkout & box office


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Bluegrass and Hip-Hop may sound like an odd combination, but don’t tell that to Producer Rench, who birthed the fusion in 2006, with Gangstagrass. “There are a lot more people out there with Jay-Z and Johnny Cash on their iPod playlists than you think.” says Rench, who had previously made a name for himself as an in-demand Brooklyn country and hip-hop producer and singer/songwriter. He should know – he’s toured the country with a band of bluegrass pickers and hip-hop emcees to the delight of standing room crowds everywhere.

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 opened every episode of six seasons of the hit series. "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, T.O.N.E-z, BROOKLYN35, R-SON, and Dolio The Sleuth. Country singers Brandi Hart from the Dixie Bee-Liners and Jen Larson added gritty harmonies alongside Rench’s choruses. Broken Hearts and Stolen Money was released in 2014. Featuring performances by legendary rap team Smif-N-Wessun, Juno award winning rapper Liquid (of BranVan 3000), Brandi Hart of the Dixie Bee-Liners and Alexa Dirks of Chic Gamine in addition to the now regular crew of emcees and pickers, the album received universal critical acclaim including the Boston Globe labeling the raucus single Two Yards “Essential.” A fourth official album titled American Music was released in April 2015. Featuring a collection of standout original cuts and traditional folk anthems the band once again broke new ground, while also paying tribute to their cast of American songwriting heroes, and debuted at #5 on the Billboard bluegrass charts.

Gangstagrass has toured internationally, blowing minds on main stages from SXSW to Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, with a live stage act taking full advantage of the improvisational aspects of both hip-hop and bluegrass. With two emcees R-Son and Dolio The Sleuth trading verses, Dan Whitener on Banjo, Landry McMeans on dobro, and Rench on guitar, and frequent 3 part harmonies, the Gangstagrass live show has garnered a reputation among fans for its dynamism and spontanaety. Currently touring across the US, Gangstagrass is using live performances to organically develop new material for an album that will further explode the boundaries between genres generally thought to be incompatible.

Wes Duffy Trio


Wes Duffy Trio is a high-energy new grass group based out of Peoria, Illinois. The group formed when Wes Duffy invited Tim Brickner and Daniel Watkins to accompany him for a performance on WTVP’s State & Water, a series of live broadcasts that feature the area’s finest musicians. Encouraged by the enthusiastic response from the audience, they have been performing in Central Illinois and beyond ever since.

Wes Duffy (vocals and mandolin) is no stranger to the music scene. His parents owned a blues bar in Peoria Heights called Duffs Rooftop. There he found himself rubbing elbows with the who's who of blues legends. He began playing drums at a very young age and was influenced in his early days by Stewart Copeland. He chose the mandolin after being heavily influenced by the Grateful Dead, Old & In the Way, and Leftover Salmon. "The mandolin known for its percussive role in bluegrass, I figured I would pick it up quickly," Wes said. And quickly he did. By early 2000, after practicing on the mandolin for the first time in the winter of '99, he started the long-running favorite Blue Magoo. Central Illinois folks have likely seen him perform over the past two decades with Peoria staples such as King Orange, Still Shine, Blue Magoo, Creek Road Ramblers, and Pink Sushi.

As a youth Tim Brickner (bass and vocals) spent countless hours deconstructing Beatles songs until he could play every part. His efforts paid off as he developed into a talented, versatile musician, today playing with jazz, rock, bluegrass bands and more. For the past three decades, Tim has played with many well-known bands in Central Illinois including The Heatersons, Scotty & The Ligonaires, and Speechless. In addition to performing with the Wes Duffy Trio currently, Tim also tours professionally with Matthew Curry.

A newcomer to the local music scene, Daniel Watkins (vocals and guitar) is talented beyond his years. Rummaging through his father’s old cassette tapes, he discovered The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Byrds and The Grateful Dead before he was in high school. From there on Daniel was hooked on music but it wasn’t until hearing Jerry Garcia and David Grisman playing together that he wanted to play folk and bluegrass. From his singing style, songwriting, and guitar pickin’, music lovers will not be disappointed to see Daniel live.

Drawing from various musical influences both within and outside the world of bluegrass, this talented trio utilizes mandolin, bass, and guitar to create original songs, unique arrangements of bluegrass staples, and quirky takes on rock classics. Their swift flatpicking and personal songwriting experiences - from tales of love to moonshine - provide an exhilarating, foot-stompin', hand-clappin' good time!"

Venue Information:
The Castle Theatre
209 E Washington St #1
Bloomington, IL, 61701