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“America’s Got Talent” Gangstagrass Debuts at App Theatre; High Country Cloggers Invited to Join Artists Onstage this Saturday

Gangstagrass performs live at The Rhythm ‘N Blooms Festival in Old City Knoxville on Sunday, May 19, 2019. Photo by Melodie Yvonne

The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country (ATHC) is pleased to announce that the High Country Cloggers will join the bluegrass/hip-hop artists Gangstagrass in performance at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 19 on the Doc Watson Stage for Americana Music at the Appalachian Theatre. 

Best known as the theme song creators of “Long Hard Times to Come” for the hit FX drama, “Justified,” Gangstagrass has created an original Emmy-nominated blend of bluegrass/hip-hop music.  

Rolling Stone Magazine hailed the group in their May 2017 issue by saying, “Gangstagrass fuses string instruments with hip-hop artists, resulting in arguably the best argument yet for a rap and country music marriage.”Their newest album “No Time for Enemies” was released in August 2020 and quickly rose to #1 on the Billboard bluegrass charts, as the band continues to explore new sonic territory while showing how amazing the sound of America is when it all comes together.

It was the music of Gangstagrass that lit a fire under the feet of the High Country Cloggers when they danced as part of the 2021 Presidential Inauguration’s Virtual Parade.  

“The parade featured performers from every state across the U.S. It was a proud moment when our local High Country Cloggers represented North Carolina and danced to the Gangstagrass song “Barnburning” on location at the iconic Blowing Rock,” said Executive Director Laura Kratt. “We’re so pleased to bring these two dynamic groups together for the very first time to perform “Barnburning” together at the Appalachian Theatre.”

Developed as a studio project 15 years ago by Brooklyn-based producer Rench, Gangstagrass grew into a dynamic and spontaneous live band of Americans — from Omaha Nebraska, Pensacola Florida, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, and Washington DC — who have become close friends. Several work hard at other jobs (one teaches computer programming, another works at a comic book shop) to support their passion for making music, and four are dads with kids ranging in age from baby through starting college.

The band has released six full-length albums with dozens of appearances on the Billboard Top 10 bluegrass chart. Gangstagrass tracks have featured Nitty Scott MC, Dead Prez, Demeanor, Kaia Kater, and legendary rap team Smif-N-Wessun among others. Rench, the Brooklyn-based country and hip-hop producer who is the Mastermind behind Gangstagrass, crafted the instantly-recognizable Long Hard Times to Come featuring T.O.N.E-z that opened every episode of FX show Justified and earned Gangstagrass a 2010 Emmy nomination for Best Theme Song – more proof that Gangstagrass, “paved the Old Town Road.” 

Putting down roots and branching out across never-before-bridged genres, Gangstagrass has delighted crowds and has blown minds across the world, garnering a reputation among fans for dynamism and spontaneity. From SXSW to Grey Fox to the Americana Festival to music festivals abroad, these live performances explode the boundaries between genres generally thought to be incompatible. Howie Mandel described Gangstagrass as “the recipe that America has been looking for until now” and “what America needs right now!”

Taking full advantage of the improvisational aspects and virtues of both hip-hop and bluegrass, including frequent three-part harmonies, MCs Dolio the Sleuth and R-SON the Voice of Reason trade verses and freestyle alongside the unparalleled skills of fellow vocalists Dan Whitener on banjo, B.E. Farrow on fiddle, and Rench on guitar and beats.

Formed in Vanessa Minton in 1989 and currently under the direction of her daughter, Amber Hendley, the High Country Cloggers will take to the stage of the App Theatre prior to traveling to Dublin in March 2022 to perform in Ireland’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the largest event of its kind in the world.

Tickets for this concert are $30. 

For more information on these events and COVID policies, or to join the theatre’s eblast list, get tickets, or purchase memberships, please visit the ATHC website at www.apptheatre.org

High Country Cloggers will join the bluegrass/hip-hop artists Gangstagrass