A new brand of bluegrass

The Deadly Gentlemen has a bluegrass skill set and rock 'n roll mentality
Left to right: Sam Grisman, Mike Barnett, Greg Liszt (front), Dominick Leslie and Stash Wyslouch are The Deadly Gentlemen.Photo courtesy of Amanda Kowalski

The Deadly Gentlemen is a new alt-bluegrass band that sends the music genre to a new level.

Without a lead singer, the band, i.e., Greg Liszt on banjo, Stash Wyslouch on guitar, Mike Barnett on fiddle, Dominick Leslie on mandolin and Sam Grisman on double bass, uses a lot of gonzo harmonies and group shouting.

If you go

Who: The Deadly Gentlemen, with Rainy and the Rattlesnakes

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15

Where: Green Springs Inn, 11470 Highway 66, Ashland

Tickets: $20

Call: 541-552-1665

"We kinda started as a rap band and then sort of crossed over into an unconventional gang vocal style that's exciting to do and watch," Liszt says. "Everyone in the band contributes to the lead."

The Deadly Gentlemen will perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15, at Green Springs Inn, 11470 Highway 66, Ashland.

The Boston-based group is fresh off a Northeast tour that culminated with an appearance at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in Charlestown, R.I.

The band is touring the West Coast behind its new album, "Roll Me, Tumble Me," to be released this fall.

"The new album is moving in a more convential, melodic direction," Liszt says. But an "energetic rock string band" is still at its core.

Liszt describes his lyrics as miniature, epic poems based on folk songs, thus coining the term "epic folk." As for the band's "grasscore" identity, everyone in the band throws caution to the wind and goes completely berserk, he says. It's kind of a hard-core mentality, but applied to bluegrass. Punkish energy and wry humor are at the forefront.

"Fronted by Greg Liszt, banjo wizard from Crooked Still, The Deadly Gentlemen play songs that are never straightforward but fizz with energy and invention as they burst off in multiple directions," writes John Davy for the online magazine Flyinshoes Review.

Everyone in the band, except for Liszt, attended Berklee College of Music for at least one semester. Liszt graduated from Yale University and later got his Ph.D. in biology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"I do take a scientific approach in music," he says. "I try a lot of things and proceed in the direction that shows the most success."

Wyslouch grew up on heavy-metal music and may be the missing link between acoustic music and over-electrified, thrash metal, according to the website. Stash (short for Stanislaw) enjoys raking his guitar and singing harmonies at the top of his vocal range. He also plays with Eric Robertson and the Boston Boys as well as Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers.

Mandolinist Leslie, 20, was a child prodigy. He is relentlessly creative, and bassist Grisman calls him the band's "nuclear option." Leslie tours with Missy Raines and the New Hip, along with the Grant Gordy Quartet.

Fiddler Barnett tours with the David Grisman Quintet and the Tony Trischka Band.

Grisman is the son of mandolinist David Grisman, who has trained him in the ways of all things bluegrass. Sam Grisman fuses traditional bluegrass bass techniques with modern notes, which sometimes makes listeners play "air double bass."

Tickets to the show at the Green Springs Inn cost $20 and will be available at the door. Local bluegrass band Rainy and the Rattlesnakes will open the show. Call 541-552-1665 for information.

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