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Punk and bluegrass collide with The Deadly Gentlemen

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Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2012 11:50 pm | Updated: 2:30 pm, Wed Jan 30, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — If you take five musicians and pair them with a banjo, guitar, fiddle, mandolin and double bass, you’d have a pretty good recipe for a bluegrass band.

But if you throw in a dash of acoustic death metal and punk, with liberal sprinkles of grasscore and epic folk, you get a much spicier mix. Meet The Deadly Gentlemen.

The band is fronted by Dr. Greg Liszt, a banjo player with a doctorate from MIT who has toured with Bruce Springsteen and is a member of Crooked Still. The Deadly Gentlemen started as an experimental spoken word bluegrass band, but its latest album, “Carry Me to Home” consists of traditional folk songs taken to extremes. Bluegrass may be an ever-evolving genre, but The Deadly Gentlemen are way ahead of the curve.

Other band members are Sam Grisman on double bass, Stash Wyslouch on guitar, Dominick Leslie on mandolin and Mike Barnett on fiddle. All have stellar credentials in the musical world, which form a strong foundation for their musical journeys.

“We traveled a kind of twisted path to get to the style we play today,” Liszt said.

Liszt said a lot of the band’s songs are reinventions of traditional folk songs. They are written as poems with a traditional theme or spirit, but which come out sounding completely different when set to music.

Liszt said this is the first year the group has focused on The Deadly Gentlemen as its major project and they plan to continue touring next year, as well as release a new album. The album “has similar energy to “Carry Me to Home,” Liszt said, “but the songs are more melodic. There’s less of a rapping and spoken word element.”

The band is touring Alaska and will perform Saturday at the College Coffeehouse.

Their music is better heard than described, but here’s a try: Think rock ‘n’ roll performed with acoustic bluegrass instruments, with a punk mentality and some rap influences — Eminem meets the Soggy Bottom Boys.

“Expect a lot of three-part harmony singing, group shouting, really dense rhymes and an almost rap-like phrasing,” Liszt says on the band’s website.

The band describes “epic folk” as songs whose lyrics began as miniature epic poems based on folk songs. “The grasscore songs are the ones where everybody in the band throws caution to the wind and goes completely berserk.”

If you go

What: The Deadly Gentlemen

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10

Where: The College Coffeehouse, 3677 College Road

Cost: $10

Info: www.collegecoffeehouse fairbanks.com, http://www.deadlygentlemen.com/

Contact staff writer Julie Stricker at 459-7532.

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