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Wait, There Is Rap in Bluegrass Now?


When Musical Worlds Collide, or Rather, Come Back Together, with Gangstagrass, Dan Tyminski, Kim Ruehl and Dr. Jordan Laney

It would be very easy to think that rap and hip hop have little if anything in common with music like bluegrass and old time. After all, we have been led to believe that these styles of music come from cultures on opposite sides of the musical spectrum. How could the two have any common ground? Actually, they have many more connections than you might imagine. This connection is embodied in groups like Gangstagrass and in recent work by Jake Blount, and as members of Gangstagrass point out in our conversation here, rap and folk music both stem from the same instincts. At its heart, this is about a musical path that diverged centuries ago, or at least seemed to.

In this episode we speak with Dolio the Sleuth, Rench the Mastermind and B.E. Farrow of Gangstagrass, as well as Dan Tyminski, who performed with them last fall, and we welcome Dr. Jordan Laney of Virginia Tech and the Virginia Rural Health Association, and author, podcaster and former editor at No Depression and Folk Alley, Kim Ruehl, as we unravel a story that began centuries ago, but has only recently reached a pivotal chapter in its history.

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Joe Kendrick grew up far off in the woods at in rural Stanfield, NC, where he acquired his first Sony Walkman, listened to both AM and FM radio from Charlotte, went to Nascar races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, attended a small Baptist church, read Rolling Stone, subscribed to cassette clubs, and played one very forgettable season of high school football. From there, Joe studied Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was able to fulfill his dream of being a disc jockey at WXYC. He volunteered at WNCW soon after graduation.