Gangstagrass Live at The Shed – August 19th 2022

Thanks to Steve Wildsmith for the following interview!

 

Bluegrass aficionados in East Tennessee are a discriminating bunch, as the members of Gangstagrass can attest.

The band — which performs Friday at The Shed Smokehouse and Juke Joint in Maryville — knows that all too well. On one hand, music lovers who have grown up hearing “Orange Blossom Special” and “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” find delight in the group’s ability to combine hip-hop with the Old Time sounds of fiddle and banjo. It’s a fusion that hearkens back to Black stringband roots out of North Carolina’s Piedmont as well as the urban poetry of spoken word rhymes.

It’s a fresh take, in other words, on a ubiquitous genre. But, the guys told The Daily Times recently, it doesn’t always sit well with bluegrass purists.

“I think it was at Rhythm N’ Blooms (a roots music festival previously held in Knoxville’s Old City), and we were at Barley’s (Taproom), playing our opening song,” said Randy Green, a.k.a. R-SON the Voice of Reason, one of the Gangstagrass emcees. “It was our first time playing Rhythm N’ Blooms, and the whole place was packed. We do our first song, and we killed it. Everybody was going crazy, but this one guy in the front points at us and just yells, ‘No! No!’ and storms out.

“I’ll never forget that dude and his reaction. It’s still one of the best things I’ve ever seen at a show, because of all the hundreds of thousands of people we’ve performed for, that guy sticks out. He’s the one, and we know that going into any situation, that could happen.”

As R-SON pointed out, however, that’s a rarity. So seamless is the band’s combination of genres that even casual observers find themselves caught up in the Gangstagrass fervor, and that’s what the band aims for every time, added band founder, vocalist, guitarist and beat-maker Oscar “Rench” Owens.

“I’m going into the shows with the excitement of, ‘Oh, boy, we’re about to show these folks what we’ve got,’” he said.

“I like to look into the crowd and watch the faces, and every now and then, I’ll see the face of somebody who’s like, ‘What is happening here?’” R-SON added. “We saw a couple of those faces in Canada a couple of weeks ago at a festival, and it’s just one of those things where you love to see the surprise and the smiles. Usually, it’s a situation where people tell us, ‘People never stand up and dance here!,’ but then we’ll have a whole field full of people standing up and getting into what we’re doing.”

Gangstagrass got its start in 2006, but when the band was tapped for the theme song of the hit FX series “Justified,” the group’s popularity broadened. Acclaimed pulp novelist Elmore Leonard, upon whose writings “Justified” was based, sang the group’s praises, and the song was nominated for an Emmy.

“I grew up listening to a lot of honky-tonk and hip-hop both, and in the early 2000s, I was doing honky-tonk hip-hop stuff myself,” Rench said. “The bluegrass idea was there, but then (the film) ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ came out, and I started doing a hip-hop cover of ‘Man of Constant Sorrow.’ Then, around 2006, I started listening to a lot of Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys from the 1970s, when Keith Whitley and Ricky Skaggs were with them, and I thought, ‘Man, I would love to get more of this going with some emcees.’”

In 2015, the band’s album “American Music” landed in the Top 10 of the Billboard bluegrass albums chart, an unheard of feat for a record with hip-hop vocals, and in 2019, Gangstagrass graced the stage at the storied Nashville bluegrass venue, The Station Inn. It was another first, but the way Rench sees it, the group’s sound isn’t as exotic a concept as some roots music fans might think.

“A lot of people don’t realize the history of early Black stringbands and how much history there is to Black country music,” he said. “We do come across a lot of places where people consider country music to be white music, and we’re glad to help sort of reunite some of these things and desegregate them again.”

By the same token, R-SON credits Rench’s approach to genre experimentation with expanding his own horizons. The band’s first emcee (Dolio the Sleuth) recruited R-SON for one of Gangstagrass’ initial tours by sending him beats Rench had put together; impressed, R-SON agreed to give it a try, and he hasn’t looked back since.

“My bluegrass palate has grown a lot, but Rench, man, Rench can rhyme! That dude’s got bars, so for him, it was less expansive when it came to hip-hop,” R-SON said. “A lot of this bluegrass was new for me. My dad was a big Kenny Rogers and a big Dolly Parton fans, but the fellas have put me on to a lot of stuff the last few years, and it really is fascinating how much of it is contextually and lyrically similar to what’s going on (in hip-hop). A lot of the outlaw narratives exist in both genres.”

Case in point: “Knoxville Girl” — technically a murder ballad more than it is a bluegrass song, but drawn from the same well of stringband and early country. Rench slapped it onto a mix tape to play in the tour van as a sort of primer for the bluegrass neophytes in the group, and all eyes widened at the violence in those lyrics. By the same token, watching hip-hop set its hooks in the bluegrass corner of the group has been satisfying as well, he said.

“We’ve had a lot of lineup changes, but it’s been really awesome to see people come into the band and start learning, just riding around the country in a van for hours at a time and seeing banjo players Googling KRS-One,” he said. “The fact that (bluegrass and hip-hop) are seen as so separate is really an illusion that has been perpetrated for generations, and we’re happy to be a part of dispelling that.

“These communities have come to see each other as different and strange, but they’re not. They have so much in common, and it was only during Jim Crow that the music industry got people to start thinking of music by color — country and bluegrass for White people, R&B and soul for Black people, for example. That was a wedge driven into the music that has helped support how much different these two (genres) sound.”

Tribute Month at The Shed

April, it has become a tradition to showcase some of the most talented tribute acts around! Don’t miss out on any of these upcoming shows at The Shed

 

Indoor Concert Series 2022

The Indoor Concert Series at The Shed!

The Shed is here to bring out the best in local and national talent in an intimate setting inside the Smokin’ Monkey Lounge! Country, Rock, Americana and more! Come hang out by the fire, have bite to eat and drink! All are welcome here!

Blackberry Smoke back at The Shed for 2022!

Blackberry Smoke has long been a crowd favorite here at The Shed.  We are proud to announce 3 nights as part of their “You Hear Georgia Tour.” On June 9th-11th Blackberry Smoke will arrive to be with the Brothers and Sisters Reunion at The Shed!

On their latest album, You Hear Georgia, the follow-up to 2018’s critically acclaimed Find a Light, Blackberry Smoke is further celebrating these roots with 10 new songs that feel like Georgia, accented by the addition of Grammy-winning producer and fellow Georgia-native, Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile). “Dave and I had spoken for the last few years about making a record,” Starr says. “Finally, it worked out, our schedule and his schedule, and we said, yes—let’s make a record.”

Blackberry Smoke worked quickly, spending just10 days at Nashville’s famed RCA Studio A, Cobb’s home base since 2016. The band recorded live on the floor, giving You Hear Georgia a crisp, outgoing feel. Like other Blackberry Smoke efforts, this album leans into well-crafted Southern rock driven by jagged guitar riffs and rich instrumentation, as the band layers on rollicking piano (“Live It Down”), funky grooves (“Hey Delilah”), and introspective acoustic sounds (the stripped-down, folk-leaning “Old Enough to Know”)

We feel a good one comin’ on here at The Shed in 2022!

 

The Shed 2021 Outdoor Concert Series

—— COVID-19 NOTICE ——

We here at The Shed want to welcome you to the 2021 Summer Concert Series!

Over the years, The Shed has built a reputation for providing a fantastic, down-home, East Tennessee experience and with that in mind, we will be adding a few guidelines for the 2021 Concert series.

The following guidelines are here for the safety of you and our staff and we hope you understand that even in these difficult times, we are ready to Rock and Roll!

The summer concert series will be limiting capacity on shows that still have available tickets to purchase. We strongly advise to purchase tickets in advance due to the new limitation and more shows than normal will sell out. We ask everyone to be aware of their surroundings and social distance whenever possible and if in a congested area or indoors at our facilities to wear a mask. This is for the safety of others and our employees. Upon entry to the property, we will be requiring temperature checks for entry, we will have stations for walk thru and ride-in patrons.

Last but not least, we will be making the area underneath the shed a Non-Smoking Area. We just ask for our patrons to move towards more open air and space from others while smoking.

We know everyone misses concerts, so do we!  The requirements listed above will help everyone involved from the artist, to you, to our employees stay safe and allow us to have concerts week after week!

A MESSAGE TO OUR PATRONS ABOUT COVID-19

The Shed places a high priority on the health and well-being of all our patrons, artists, and staff. We are monitoring and evaluating news and spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), and we will follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as well as from Blount County Government and the City of Maryville.

While the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered fairly low in the East TN region with no current cases in our area, The Shed is intensifying its cleaning practices across our facility in an abundance of caution to not only prepare for the upcoming concert season, but also to keep the Smokehouse as safe an environment as possible. Precautionary measures we have planned include: new hand sanitizing stations, daily and rigorous disinfection of all high-touch surface areas, such as doorknobs, handles, bar and counter surfaces, and faucets. All menus will be fully sanitized after each customer uses them and then placed in a sterile location. Tables and Sauces will be cleaned and sanitized after each customer and bartenders and kitchen staff will be taking extra precautionary measures to ensure all food and drink preparations are handled with the utmost of care. In addition to these steps, The Shed already exclusively uses disposable plates, cups, and utensils which will cut down on person to person transfer.

The great thing about The Shed is that it is an outdoor concert venue, so the open air environment should help mitigate any unwanted person to person contact. With that said, we ask that all concert attendees be sure to give everyone plenty of space, The Shed is a huge spot with a ton of room for everyone, respect each other and enjoy the show!

As we monitor the progress of the virus, we will let you know of additional measures we are taking as the situation warrants. We are hopeful that things will get better as concert season approaches.

We encourage all patrons to remain vigilant and follow hygiene practices as published by the CDC:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Do not shake hands and when possible, use your elbows or feet to open doors
  • Wash your hands frequently with hot water and soap for 20 seconds (it helps to sing the tune of “Happy Birthday to You” all the way through twice to yourself as you wash, to ensure you are doing a thorough job).
  • If you feel ill or experience flu-like symptoms, we urge you to stay home and seek medical care.

Thank you to all of our fans and to the fans of the artists we have, we assure you that we are taking every precaution possible to take care of you the way you take care of us.

The Shed’s Top Albums of 2019

2019 was an incredible year for music. We had more trouble narrowing down this list than ever before, and for the first time ever, we almost didn’t publish a list because of how difficult it was! But, with our breath held, here are The Shed’s Top Ten Albums of 2019.

 

10. “Western Stars” by Bruce Springsteen
At his age, no one would fault Bruce Springsteen for playing it safe and sticking with the E Street Band for legacy tours and promoting album rereleases. But that’s not The Boss’ style. On ‘Western Stars,’ Springsteen sheds his signature sound in for something that’s a cross between Frank Sinatra and Glen Campbell. And as crazy as that sounds… it works. The writing is crystal clear with beautiful imagery and strong emotion; and while the accompanying film didn’t teach die hard fans anything they didn’t already know, it reaffirmed our absolute love for The Boss.

 

9. “Solid Gold Sounds” by Kendell Marvel
Kendell Marvel’s second album hits the mark in a completely different way his first album did. Less loud guitar and more honky tonk twang, Kendell Marvel wears his influences on his sleeves as he continues to carve out a real legacy for himself in country music, not only as a writer, but as an artist.

 

8. “After the Fire” & “The Waiting” by Cody Jinks
Two albums released a week apart is an impressive feat for any artist, both of them holding numbers 1 and 2 on the charts is even more incredible. Cody Jinks continues to stick to the outskirts of country music and in an increasingly crowded field, he has fought his way up to the front of the pack as the top “indie country” act in the US. These two albums build on the work of such artists that came before him like Jamey Johnson and Merle Haggard by taking a modern approach to the “Outlaw” movement. The approach connected in the most broad manner of Jinks’ career.

 

7. “Old News” by The Steel Woods
Released early in 2019, ‘Old News’ was anything but old. The Steel Woods used the album to cement themselves as bon-a-fide headliners in 2019. ‘Old News’ allowed the guys to step out of the shadows of larger acts and onto the stage as the main attraction. The songs connect deeper than anything they have ever released and elevated their live show to a staggering new level. Southern rock, meet your new principle purveyors.

 

6. “Country Squire” by Tyler Childers
Tyler Childers had big expectations to live up to and his second album delivered on most all fronts. ‘Country Squire’ leaned into his americana and country roots and made Tyler one of the most in demand artists in some time. He has plans to tour with producer Sturgill Simpson in 2020, as far as after that… we all wait on pins and needles.

 

5. “Sound & Fury” by Sturgill Simpson
If you’re looking to pin point Sturgill Simpson down, good luck. Country? Well, that’s what he used to be and what his voice most lends itself to. Rock and Roll? Maybe, he can shred. Psychedelic? Definitely an argument for it considering his affinity for drugs and the images he paints. But ‘Sound and Fury’ is best left without a genre specification. It’s gloriously weird and its accompanying Netflix Anime film just adds to the awesome strangeness of it all. The distortion of the record is paired well with the in your face attitude of the lyrics. To be frank, Sturgill comes off like an asshole in some of it. But at the same time, you definitely understand where he is coming from. The record is one that takes multiple listens to connect to, and many absolutely hate it. But we get it. ‘Sound and Fury’ is the most perplexing record of the year. And we can’t stop listening to it.

 

4. “Almost Daylight” by Chris Knight
In what was a completely startling turn of events (but really shouldn’t have been), Americana’s most underrated songwriter released a record that surpassed everyone’s expectations. Produced by Steve Earle producer Ray Kennedy, ‘Almost Daylight’ embraces the dark that Chris seems to frequently find himself in and somehow turns it into a magical, meaningful collection of lyrics that bring every day experiences to light in a brand new way. And what’s perhaps even more staggering, the record’s vocals sound great! It’s been no secret that Chris’ live shows are hit or miss concerning the quality of his voice, but make no mistake here, this record is a huge hit.

 

3. “What It Is” by Hayes Carll
Critically acclaimed and absolutely timely, ‘What it Is’ returns Hayes Carll to the forefront for the first time since ‘KMAG YOYO.’ Not afraid of alienation or side effects, Hayes addresses the issues he sees in modern day head on and doesn’t back down when asked about them. This is his record, he’s going to say what he wants to say. And in true Texas fashion, he doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks. But luckily, we all think it’s pristine.

 

2. “Whiskey Myers” by Whiskey Myers
Whiskey Myers embraced their live show on this new record and the result was pure fun. The new, rocking approach seems to have pushed the band to higher heights than ever before, including making this album number 1. If you love seeing Whiskey Myers in concert, then this is the record for you. It captures the magic they have on stage in a fantastic way that their previous albums just couldn’t seem to do. It’s appropriate that it is self titled, because it is the perfect representation of who they are. It’s the best album of their career.

 

1. “The Highwomen” by The Highwomen
Made of a true super women (Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, Natalie Hemby, and mega star Maren Morris), The Highwomen came on strong with a ton of hype and press. The assumption for many is there is no way the album can live up to all this commotion. And then it did. Easily accessible for lovers of all types of music, The Highwomen brought female representation in country music to the front page and made it an issue that everyone wanted to address. From country radio to the CMAs, the surge in female talent and recognition of female legacy in late 2019 can be attributed to this album fully delivering the goods. And in what is the mark of a great album, everyone personally connects to a different song when they listen to the record. It is so well written and so relatable that there is no doubt it is the best record of 2019.

 

 

Honorable Mentions
“While I’m Livin'” by Tanya Tucker
“Cash Cabin Sessions Volume 3” by Todd Snider
“Closer than Together” by The Avett Brothers
“Daylight” by Grace Potter
“Wildcard” by Miranda Lambert
“Home” by Billy Strings
“Live the Love Beautiful” by Drivin’ N Cryin”
“The Saint of Lost Causes” by Justin Townes Earle
“What You See Is What You Get” by Luke Combs
“Colorado” by Neil Young and Crazy Horse
“Full Circle and Then Some” by Trigger Hippy

Notable Compilations
“Live at The Ryman” by Old Crow Medicine Show
“Live at Ramblin’ Man Fair” by The Kentucky Headhunters
“Originals” by Prince
“Homecoming: Live in Atlanta” by Blackberry Smoke

The Shed’s Top Albums of 2018

Every year, we compile a list of the best records released both nationally and locally. 2018 was tough to pinpoint, but here are this year’s best outings!

Top Albums of 2018

  1. “Interstate Gospel” by The Pistol Annies

    A return to form for the all female country super group that can’t seem to do any wrong. Half tongue and cheek honky tonk, half modern country radio rebellion, “Interstate Gospel” roots itself in genre bending sounds and relatable lyrics to connect with an audience broader than mainstream country could ever imagine. Can Miranda just stay here, please?
  1. “Under New Management” by Brian Paddock

    Formerly known as Shimmy from Shimmy & The Burns, Brian Paddock’s solo debut resonates even without knowing his back story. Then you find out he’s a cancer survivor, he had the year from hell on top of that, and he still managed to make an incredible record! But this record isn’t good out of pity, word is most of it was written prior to the woes, it’s good because it’s real and honest. No cheap thrills, no parlor tricks, straight forward and real. Nice to hear that from a local musician who’s trying to make it without compromising himself.
  1. “Loversity” by Sam Lewis

    Sam Lewis fans from the beginning have been asking for this sound for years, and we finally got it. Full band, southern soul, and timely lyrics prove to be a triple punch of success for “Loversity.” While the name may raise an eyebrow, the content is groove oriented, thought provoking, and undeniably easy to listen to over and over. Sam Lewis is slowly creeping his way out of the shadow of a support act and toward the spotlight of a headliner.
  1. “Girl Going Nowhere” by Ashley McBryde

    Ashley McBryde has been a mainstay underground performer/writer in Nashville for years, until 2016 when Eric Church fell in love with her music. Now her first major release is one of the most talked about records of the year. Thanks to attention from big stars like Garth Brooks covering her title track and the lead single having mainstream country success, look for McBryde to have a breakout year in 2019. Currently out supporting Luke Combs, she is poised to overshadow anyone she steps on the stage with.
  1. “The Tree of Forgiveness” by John Prine

    It’s been well over a decade since Prine has released an album full of new material. Like a fine wine, Prine has only grown better with age. Do no wrong super producer Dave Cobb lends his hand to this effort, but honestly, the rawness of the record would lend you to believe Prine was sitting alone in his closet recording the mostly acoustic album. Solemn and full of plenty of breathing room, “The Tree of Forgiveness” doesn’t shove any of its themes down your throat, but instead takes a Dylan-esque approach of letting you have the choice to embrace their subtlety.
  1. “We’re All The Same” by Handsome & The Humbles

    Perhaps the most timely and relevant album on the list, local favorites Handsome & The Humbles do not disappoint on their sophomore effort. Relatable lyrics and characters seems to come second nature for the group on this record as they paint pictures that any retrospective or introspective individual can find familiarity in. By the way, that’s all of us at some point in our lives, I think that’s the point based on it’s title- it’s definitely what makes this record so great.
  1. “By the Way, I Forgive You” by Brandi Carlile

    Dave Cobb teamed with Shooter Jennings to produce this critically acclaimed record. Poignantly dark in some spots, Carlile’s sixth record almost requires a sense of urgency when listening to it. The stories are all connected to a bigger picture that shows that sometimes being human is just plain rough. This record was a risk, a lay it all on the line, throw it all out there effort that could have easily backfired, but it didn’t. It is Carlile’s masterpiece.
  1. “Find a Light” by Blackberry Smoke

    Sometimes satisfying expectations is difficult for artists; BBS make it look easy. Soaked with confidence, “Find a Light” is made for the stage. The album is strong as is, but it is reinforced with heavyweight guests like Robert Randolph, The Wood Brothers, & Amanda Shires. They each add to what has become natural for BBS- strong, well performing albums meant to be played live. And the songs resonate best when heard from the stage, as displayed at The Shed multiple times. While there’s nothing really groundbreaking here, expectations are satisfied and the lyrics all connect to the theme of the need to “Find a Light” in even the darkest of situations.
    And let’s face it guys, music is supposed to be fun. A lot of artists forget that…
  1. “Things Change” by American Aquarium

    2015’s “Wolves” was acclaimed as American Aquarium’s best record yet by many, including us, but now it has real competition. “Things Change” isn’t subtle in its message; it leaves no room to interpret the opinions of the writer. It is a straight forward and well spoken commentary on the world around us(and not just politics). And it’s damn good. In fact, BJ Barham and the guys’ songwriting has never been better. That’s high praise for a group known for its pen more than anything else. And it’s deserved.

1. “Golden Hour” by Kacey Musgraves

Sometimes the masses get it right. CMA’s and Apple Music’s album of the year is also nominated for the Grammy’s album of the year award, and for good reason- it’s a classic. Beautiful in every way and poised to be her career defining effort, Musgrave’s latest record shines light on a year where darkness is more easily found. “Golden Hour” is the silver lining in mainstream’s current direction.

 

Honorable Mentions-
“Family Tree” by Black Stone Cherry
“Anthem of the Peaceful Army” by Greta Van Fleet
“Boarding House Reach” by Jack White
“Encore” by Anderson East
“Venom & Faith” by Larkin Poe
“Down the Road Wherever” by Mark Knopfler
“Good Thing” by Leon Bridges
“Wouldn’t It Be Great” by Loretta Lynn

Spotlight Compilations-
“Confessin’ the Blues”
“Springsteen on Broadway” by Bruce Springsteen
“Glastonbury 2000” by David Bowie

Upcoming releases we’re watching for 2019-
“Old News” by The Steel Woods
Whiskey Myers Untitled new album

The Shed added to Tennessee Music Pathways

The Shed Smokehouse and Juke Joint is proud to announce it’s inclusion in The State of Tennessee’s Tourism Board’s Tennessee Music Pathways!

Tennessee is the soundtrack to America and The Shed is now a direct part of the state’s historic Music Pathway.

The Shed will now take it’s place alongside Sun Studios and Graceland in Memphis, The Ryman and Grand Ol’ Opry in Nashville, The Birthplace of Country Music in Bristol, Bonnaroo, Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, and so many other prestigious music locations in the state of Tennessee.

We at The Shed are honored to be in such company and are thrilled to accept this inclusion.

To learn more about the Tennessee Music Pathways, check out https://www.tnvacation.com/tennessee-music-pathways#

And to see The Shed’s brand new page promoting it’s inclusion, visit https://www.tnvacation.com/local/maryville-shed-smokehouse-juke-joint-0

 

 

And now a message from John Michael Montgomery

You heard the man! Get your tickets now by clicking here!