Monday, April 8, 2013

Gibson Brothers Wow Lenoir!

The Gibson Brothers gave their all to a relatively small but very enthusiastic audience at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir, NC on Friday evening. With a newly released CD The Called It Music they added to their luster in this magnificent venue. It was particularly good to see old Gibson Brothers friends from as far away as Wisconsin, to meet Howard and Ruth Price from Tennessee, and to reacquaint with a young woman who may have been a student of mine at Saranac Lake High School back in the eighties. Her parents, from Bloomingdale, NY in the Adironcack Park were also there. North Country people pop up all over to see the North Country's contribution to bluegrass music, The Gibson Brothers. The Broyhill Center is a 1000 seat concert hall with not a bad seat in the house and a warm, full sound perfectly suited to the music of this 2012 IBMA Entertainer of the Year winning group. Tired from a year of touring and just in from Nashville where they had done a track-by-track with Kyle Cantrell on Sirius/Xm radio, an interview on WSM radio, and other promotional gigs, the band nevertheless performed with the enthusiasm, grace, and wit their fans, old and newly acquired, expect of them.

Leigh Gibson

Eric Gibson

The new music selected for performance here as well as the material from their increasingly deep and varied catalog seemed to resonate with the increased depth of their experience and tightness gained from years of touring together with the same band. Leigh's voice shows increasing resonance and range, making it an ever more effective instrument for presentation of his evocative songs. The close harmonies the brothers create are, it seems to me, as much the result of their many years of singing together as of genetic predisposition, ever more blended into almost a single unit.

The Gibson Brothers

Anchoring the band on each end are two remarkable performers in their own right who sublimate their own versatility and virtuosity to the demands of the music. Joe Walsh on mandolin has been with the band for four years, bringing his remarkably creative approach to playing the mandolin, which is emerging into a sound that may, in the not too distant future, be deemed distinctive enough to be called "Walsh style mandolin." The mellow sounds he draws from his Gilchrist A-style mandolin coupled with the subtle yet astounding ascending chorded glissandos are simply breath taking, but never interfere with the intent of the song. Clayton Campbell on fiddle, with the band for nine years, rises to his tip toes as his bold yet subtle fiddling screams out when necessary while complementing the brothers with just the right licks and chops at quieter moments.

Clayton Campbell

Joe Walsh

 Mike Barber

 Mike Barber has been the Gibson Brothers' bass player on their last eleven recordings, having spent nearly twenty years just behind Leigh's left shoulder. Probably because he only plays with one band and doesn't work widely in Nashville as a session man or as a fill-in with other bands, he is less recognized as a bass master than he deserves to be. The fact that Eric and Leigh refer to him as the third Gibson Brother and that he's credited as co-producer on their last three CD's suggests his importance to the band. 

Leigh Gibson & Mike Barber
 During Friday night's concert, the brothers played four songs from their new album interspersed with favorites from previous recordings as well as unrecorded instrumentals and even a couple of songs they regularly add to their performances which are also unrecorded. Interspersed between their songs is the kind of brotherly banter that in another pair might make the audience wince, but with Eric and Leigh is always good natured and funny. While the Gibson Brothers recordings have happily inhabited the number one position on the Bluegrass Unlimited charts for the past seven releases, there's really nothing to equal the vibe of a Gibson Brothers performance, whether it be in a concert hall or at a festival. We've been lucky enough to see this fine band in a number of different settings, and this show at Lenoir was one of the very best. 

Eric Gibson

At the Merch Table

 Leigh & Eric Signing

"Who's the meanest?"

Keep an eye on our YouTube Channel as I release videos from this wonderful concert over the next couple of weeks. Click on the Subscribe button so you receive notification whenever we update our channel.