Kamara Thomas and the Ghost Gamblers and Gangstagrass at Mercury Lounge 3/30/13

Kamara Thomas and the Ghost Gamblers and Gangstagrass

Mercury Lounge

March 30, 2013

A couple of weeks ago I managed to be at the Mercury Lounge for the early set, Kamara Thomas and the Ghost Gamblers and Gangstagrass, and for the late set, Desert Noises and Hollis Brown. Yes, i actually walked out, got a beer at Local 138 with a friend, and then went in for the late set with the bouncer and the girl at the door looking at me with bemused expressions – while saying, “weren’t you here earlier?”

  • I had seen Kamara Thomas and the Ghost Gamblers at Rockwood Music Hall a few months earlier, opening for Sophia Bastian – granted, with fewer members. With a full band that included a backing vocalist, a steel pedal guitarist, a guitarist, bassist and drummer, the material which owes a great debt sonically to Fleetwood Mac and 70s AM rock but with more slightly more muscle, and at times manages to have ethereal moments . Thomas, who played with Earl Greyhound – I wonder what happened to them – is a charismatic and charming presence. 
  • Gangstagrass has quickly developed a following, thanks in part to the Justified theme song and for energetic live shows which frequently include cookies baked by the band. Naturally, when most people think of bluegrass and hip hop, they initially don’t see their inherent similarities. Both genres are known for braggadocio – generally about being a total badass. With that in mind what Gangstagrass does – having emcees spit lyrics over hip hop beats mixed with bluegrass instrumentation makes more sense than you think. And although they all seemed like super sweet people, all of their material talked about murdering people, and being a badass. But if there was one problem it was this – all of the emcees they had weren’t particularly the strongest or best emcees I’ve heard. Nas, Common, Homeboy Sandman, and others they were clearly not – in fact, their flows were extremely similar to old school hip hop. Regardless, they were fun and they had a packed room losing their minds. 

Kamara Thomas and the Ghost Gamblers


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