Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Gibson Brothers at The Kentucky Opry

In the western corner of Kentucky the Kentucky and Cumberland rivers flow closely together as they flow towards the Ohio River, which, only a few miles further along joins the mighty Mississippi on its course towards the Gulf of Mexico.  This little corner of the world, where Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, and Missouri come together is rich in history and river culture.  In the early 1940's a dam was built on the Tennessee River to create Kentucky Lake as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority.  In the 1960's, in order to make the two rivers flow at the same level, another dam was built on the Cumberland creating Lake Barkley.  The resulting impoundments created the largest internal peninsula in the United States, which was then cleared of indigenous populations and turned into a huge recreation area, recently taken over the by the Department of Agriculture as a National Recreation Area.  At the northern end of this complex lie the small towns of Benton and Draffenville, centers of shopping and commerce for the vast fishing, second home, and camping area region created by the lakes.  For the past twenty-one years, the Kentucky Opry has presented country and bluegrass shows in Draffenville. Clay Campbell, having seen the potential for country music venues while performing at Branson, thought the Kentucky Lakes region would be a perfect location for a music hall in the Branson tradition.  He has created and maintened the Kentucky Opry since then.  Last night The Gibson Brothers appeared there.

Sarah Lane & Clayton Campbell


Clay Campbell is the father of Clayton Campbell, the Gibson Brothers' very accomplished fiddler.  The Opry drew a solid crowd to welcome home their native son, wish him well on his upcoming marriage to Sarah Lane, and greet this top national band, which has appeared fairly regularly in the region, both at the Opry and at Tony Williams' Kentucky Lake Bluegrass Festival. The Kentucky Opry is a warm and welcoming family venue seating about 500 people with excellent sound, a strongly country-music oriented ambience, and a family environment.  It also hosts a monthly free bluegrass show on the first Friday of the month sponsored by the Jackson Purchase Friends of Bluegrass.  We had a delightful supper with Tony and his wife Terri before heading over to the Opry, making it a perfect evening.

The Room

The Emcee - Clay Campbell

The Band - The Gibson Brothers 

Clay Campbell opened the show with some homespun humor delivered in an amusing and thoroughly professional manner before introducing the Gibson Brothers.  The boys came out, with Jesse Brock substituting most ably for the absent Joe Walsh on mandolin.  It's always nice (I'm learning to write in understatement these days.) when a band can call on the current IBMA player of the year as a sub.  The band then proceded to knock out one of the very best shows we've ever seen them deliver.  The audience was very enthusiastic, Brock brought his own special kind of energy, and the rest of the band responded to the night's chemistry with huge enthusiasm.  They played two sets, the second being longer than the first, featuring songs from their new CD Ring the Bell as well as songs from their large catalog of songs they own in ways other bands can only dream of.  CD sales between sets and at the concert's end were brisk, and the audience called the band back for an encore after a long second set.  Just can't beat it.  I'll let the pictures tell the story.

Eric and Leigh Gibson



Mike Barber

Clayton Campbell

Jesse Brock

Eric and Jesse

Mike and Jesse

On-Stage Guest - Clay Campbell

Faces in the Crowd
Terri and Tony Williams (Josh's Parents)

Tammy and Tony Smee (Cape Girardeau, MO)

Irene and Terri - Bluegrass Groupies

The Audience