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Gangstagrass - The Hug And Pint, Glasgow 06.02.2019

A Wednesday night in Glasgow sees me heading to the Hug & Pint to witness the brainchild of a gentleman called Rench…a brainchild that, in theory, shouldn’t work…more of that later.

The Hug and Pint is a great bar and restaurant with a really welcoming atmosphere and, more importantly, is gaining a reputation as a great place to see bands. As soon as you walk into the venue you know why. The official capacity is 120, so you know it’s going to be a tight wee place, but when I walked in and saw just how intimate it is, two thoughts crossed my mind; firstly that I’m glad I turned up at doors to get a good spot and, secondly, that this is going to be brilliant!

The venue slowly fills up as we wait for the support, which comes from Katy Hurt who played a blinding acoustic set, ably accompanied by guitarist Gab. I absolutely loved “Small Town”, “See You Later” and new single “Revved Up” (with R-SON guesting) but my favourite was “Unfinished Business” which is just achingly beautiful. If you get the chance to catch Katy either on this or her own tour do so…she’s fab and is offering shiny blue vinyl for sale – yes I did buy one (seriously, who could resist shiny blue vinyl?!) Also I have to give a mention to Gab who, as well as being a brilliant guitarist, was a top bloke and graciously ignored my interrupting his chocolate bar after the gig for a brief chat.

And then it’s time for Gangstagrass, the afore mentioned brainchild of Rench. Mixing Bluegrass and Hip Hop? Banjos and Beats? Your brain tells you it won’t work but it absolutely does. Rench and Danjo take the stage and we open with “Long Hard Times To Come” ...just beautiful Bluegrass music and then as R-SON and Dolio the Sleuth take the stage what follows is around 80 minutes (75 minutes if anyone from Glasgow Council is reading this!) of just pure magic. After one song you find yourself wondering how you could ever have doubted the wisdom of this combination; it just is a seamless mix and when you add in the fiddle…it just takes it to a whole new level. This is supreme musicianship and Hip Hop at its best, no gangsta bravado just wit, intelligence, peace and love which spills from the band into the crowd and flows back again with such intensity that for one night you can forget all the bullshit that’s going on in the world and just bask in the camaraderie of great music being shared and loved.

There are so many highlights that it’s hard to single them out, but certainly “You Can Never Go Home”, “Nickel And Dime Blues”, “All For One” and “Gunslinging Rambler” are just amazing, the segue into “Here Comes The Hotstepper” is inspired and then Katy popping up with a bit of “Folsom Prison Blues” completes the circle and highlights just what a great, cohesive bill this is.

If you get the opportunity to see Gangstagrass live I would urge you to grasp it with all the appendages that you possess…you might think it’s a bit of a punt but believe me it’s not. As Rench himself said ‘There are a lot of people who aren’t ready for this shit’ – do yourself a favour and don’t be one of them.

Photos & Review - Chris Watson

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