Sparrows Wedding Weekend: Post 2

Dave Massey Photo got some great pictures of Sparrow Brian’s wedding, including the following shots of the band:

Sparrows Wedding Weekend at the Cape

As one more Sparrow gets married, the band reunites for one weekend on the Cape.And we all agree it's been too long.

Posted by The Sparrows on Saturday, June 27, 2015

Special performance by The Sparrows #hitchedtotheuniverse #wedding #capecod #brewster #danceparty

A photo posted by Jenni Mällinen (@jennimmal) on

Quite possibly the most beautiful first dance ever 💖 #hitchedtotheuniverse #capecod #love #brewster #brianandemma

A photo posted by Jenni Mällinen (@jennimmal) on

Upcoming Shows: June & July 2015

Thanks to my webadmin, I have a sidebar calendar working again!

To celebrate, here are my known upcoming shows, sorted both by date and band for your convenience. Keep an eye on the calendar for more shows as they are announced!

Man About A Horse

Fri, June 5, 8pm – 11pm (NO COVER; ENJOY THEIR EATS AND DRINKS!)
Vesper, 223 South Sydenham Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102, United States

Blue Plate Special

Sat, June 6, 2:00pm – 3:30pm (FREE!)
Wall Township Municipal Complex, Wall, NJ

Sat, June 6, 7:30pm – 8:30pm ($5 at the door!)
Albert Hall, Waretown, NJ

3 Sails Jazz Festival
Saturday, Jun 13, 1:00pm – 1:45pm (1-Day Adult Pass: $60; 1-Day Student Pass: $18 (Must present valid student ID at Box Office); 1-Day Young Adult Pass: $12 (ages 13-17, under 12 free with a paying adult). 2-day packages also available.)
The Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts
College Drive
Toms River, NJ 08754


Friday, Jul 10, 9:00pm – ?? ($12 advance / $15 day of show)
Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
2635 Welton St
Denver, CO 80205
Facebook event

Sunday, Jul 19, 8:00pm – ?? ($15)
The Purple Fiddle
21 East Avenue
Thomas, WV 26292
Facebook event

Come See a Man about a Horse

Photo courtesy of Jen Steinberg

I’ve started playing some shows with Philly’s own folk/bluegrass sensation, Man about a Horse. Not only are these guys fantastic people, but also they’re phenomenal musicians. It’s a treat to play with them!

Check them out on Facebook or download their EP!
We’re playing again this Friday (June 5th) at Vesper from 8-11.

This is happening right now at Vesper! 'Man About A Horse' killing it on stage and the evening is still very young! Come join us and get your dance on!

Posted by Derm Farrell on Saturday, May 16, 2015

Pet of the Week: Guinea Pig Babies

I’ve partnered with the fantastic Monmouth County SPCA on an exciting new project:

If you are near the Central NJ area and have been thinking of adding some pets to your family, these furry friends are bluegrass-approved!

Gangstagrass and Bluegrass Tunes (and a New Review)

I would suggest that you read Ria Greiff’s recent review for Now It’s Dark mag even if it wasn’t about Gangstagrass: It’s that well written. One part that I particularly loved was her description of the opening mini-set where the bluegrass musicians of Gangstagrass (myself included) perform some more traditional tunes:

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.
Photo by Scott Allan Greiff

When you think about combining bluegrass and hip-hop, you imagine that there are going to be two challenges: Introducing bluegrass to the hip-hop world, and introducing hip-hop to the bluegrass world. You might imagine that those two are going to be roughly equal challenges, but overall we (as Gangstagrass) do tend to get more pushback from bluegrass “purists” than hip-hop “purists.”

That partially has to do with the way that hip-hop works–you can hear a hip-hop track incorporating any and every genre of music. You hear MCs rapping over classical tracks, you hear DJs sampling pop, rock & roll, world music (which is, of course, a really strong influence), so to expect hip-hop artists to reject bluegrass is more than a little disingenuous. More often, we have to contend with fans who feel like we got rap in their bluegrass. So part of starting off a show with some more traditional bluegrass/country western/honky-tonk songs is because we love the music and it’s good music. Part is because it’s one of our strong influences. But another great thing about starting a show that way (which we don’t always do) is that, for some people, it can lead you into Gangstagrass by way of more traditional bluegrass.

Rench is a big fan of classic country musicians like Hank Williams and George Jones, and he also writes some of his own original music (outside of Gangstagrass) in the styles of those performers. So we might start with something like “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down,” or “You Win Again.” He and I also found that we share a love for some of the brother duet songs from artists like the Louvin Brothers, so sometimes we’ll do “When I Stop Dreaming” or “Satan’s Jeweled Crown” and our new fiddler Melody Allegra Berger also knows a bunch of these songs and she might lead us with a fiddle tune or two at the beginning of a set.

But that’s not to say that we don’t also incorporate these songs into our regular Gangstagrass set list. Our dobro player Landry McMeans sings a great version of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” It’s always such a hit at shows and we enjoy playing it so much that we ended up including it as a secret bonus track on our 2014 album, Broken Hearts and Stolen Money. We really enjoy combining bluegrass and hip-hop, and we hope it is clear that we combine bluegrass and hip-hop because we truly love both styles of music.

Second week on the charts!

To celebrate our second week on the Billboard bluegrass charts, here’s a video of me rehearsing/recording some banjo for the album! (If I had known that 2200 people were gonna watch me in the studio I woulda put on more of a tight show!)

Check out this video from the American Music sessions! Here Dan "Danjo" Whitener lays down his famous banjo playing. …

Posted by Gangstagrass on Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Also, did you know there is a secret surprise when you buy the physical copy of American Music?

American Music is out!

American Music

You can be the proud owner of the latest installment in the Song of Bluegrass and Hip-Hop book series that the New York Times calls “better than Game of Thrones. Seriously, they come out with a new album more reliably than George Railroad Martin (his real name), and when they promise dragons, Gangstagrass delivers dragons.”

And indeed, there are dragons in our newest album. And political intrigue! And swords, and each of us has a pet wolf.

But I’m preaching to the choir! Y’all must have already preordered your copies, or stolen them from the warehouse in Harlan where we get them printed up, so you know exactly how many dragons there are or aren’t.

For the rest of you, though, there’s only one way to get your hands on the album people have been calling “the Iron Throne of Westeros” – well, I guess there are several ways, but this one works just fine. Click on it!

PS for the Bardians out there: This album features both Dan Whitener ’09 & Soul Khan ’07! On the same track, even!