Gangstagrass: Johnny Cash Meets Jay-Z

The band Gangstagrass on stage. (
The band Gangstagrass on stage. (

Johnny Cash and Jay-Z. Honky-tonk and hip-hop.

At first glance, it doesn't seem a likely recipe for success but don't say that to Rench, the musical brains behind the Brooklyn-based project Gangstagrass. Rench grew up in Santa Barbara, listening to Run-DMC during recess and coming home to Johnny Cash and Ralph Stanley on his parents' turntable. The two genres got into his ear and when he started laying beats after college, he couldn't shake the sound. He started doing mash-ups on the side and audiences couldn't get enough. It appealed to an eclectic crowd, people who had diverse playlists on shuffle, people who weren't afraid of originality.

A huge break arrived when the FX network commissioned Rench to pen the theme song for its series "Justified." The song "Long Hard Times To Come" made Gangstagrass an Internet sensation and even scored the band an Emmy nomination.

The band performed live in our studio earlier this year.


  • Rench, producer, vocalist, and guitar player in Gangstagrass
  • R-SON, emcee
  • Dolio the Sleuth, emcee
  • David Yannuzzi, dobro guitar
  • Dan Whitener, banjo
  • Jon Westover, fiddle


This segment aired on May 27, 2013. The audio for this segment is not available.


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