Monday, November 25, 2013

Gibson Brothers in the North Country


Eric & Leigh Gibson

The weekend didn't have a very auspicious start. On Thursday we decided our longtime companion cat Smokey should no longer be asked to bear the cancer that was eating him up. It's always a sad time to take such personal responsibility for a creature that can't do so himself, and we were both sad. On Friday afternoon we headed north to Rochester, NH to attend the first concert of the three day tour following our friends the Gibson Brothers as they performed on three successive nights at three very different venues in what those of us who live here call "The North Country," which includes northern New England and Upstate New York.  For the uninitiated, upstate does not mean anything north of New York City. It refers specifically to the region between Albany New York and the Canadian border, including the vast wilderness of the Adirondack Mountains. We drove north from our home in southwestern New Hampshire, stopping for gas north of the state capital in Concord. I reached for my wallet and found...nothing. We turned around and drove the sixty miles home and back, and then further north to Rochester, NH where we had never been, checked into the Bates Motel, and headed off to find The Rochester Opera House, a beautifully restored building first opened in 1908, featuring a gorgeous horseshoe balcony and a moveable floor creating raked seating, wonderful site lines, and superb acoustics. The Gibson Brothers concert was a benefit promoted by David & Maureen Staples for the Goodwin Community Health Center.

Rochester (NH) Opera House

Some of the Usual Suspects
Maureen Flynn Staples - Co-Promoter


Brenda Mathews

Chuck Carter


In the Green Room
Leigh Gibson

Eric Gibson

Emcee Katy Daley - WAMU's Bluegrass Country

Much of what makes a Gibson Brothers performance a special experience for audiences is the combination of their great original songs, stunning brother harmonies, and delightfully unaffected, humorous patter between songs. When they appear before new audiences, I sometimes fear the audience will be put off by their banter, but it seems they never cross the line into appearing nasty, and always grab and hold a new audience by the second or third song. It's a truly wonderful process to watch and be a part of.

Katy Daley - Emcee

 Leigh Gibson

Eric Gibson

Clayton Campbell

 Mike Barber

Jesse Brock

Fellow Photographer Jennie Scott



 David Staples - Co-Promoter

A goal of this blog entry is to try to capture effectively the qualities making the Gibson Brothers the Gibson Brothers. The three videos I've chosen to post here each capture longer moments in these three appearances, including the patter between songs as well as the songs themselves. It is designed to showcase what makes a band both IBMA Vocal Group of the Year this year and Entertainer of the Year for 2012 and 2013. While they are longer than my standard song video, they're worth listening to straight through if you're interested in seeing what makes this outstanding group unique.

The Gibson Brothers in Concert - Rochester, NH - Video ;  

 On Saturday morning we drove across New Hampshire and Vermont to Grand Island north of Burlington, where we boarded the Lake Champlain Ferry for the brief crossing into New York at Plattsburgh. 


The Gibson Brothers are both graduates of the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Once the home of Plattsburgh Air Force Base, closed eighteen years ago, the City of Plattsburgh has recovered, at least partly because of the growth of the University there and as a regional shopping and business center close to the Canadian border. This concert was held to benefit the Bluegrass for the Next Generation Project centered at SUNY Plattsburgh and focused on encouraging young people to become involved in acoustic music throughout northern New York and especially the Adirondack Region. While bluegrass music is often seen as a regional music generated and centered in the south, The Gibson Brothers, who grew up on a dairy farm about thirty miles west of Plattsburgh and two miles south of the Canadian Border have dedicated a considerable portion of their effort to demonstrating the more universal appeal of this music.

 SUNY Plattsburgh - Plattsburgh, NY
Hawkins Hall

 E. Glenn Glitz Auditorium

In the Green Room - A Quiet Time
Emcee - Julie Hogan

Jesse Brock

Leigh Gibson

The 789 seat E. Glenn Glitz auditorium in Hawkins Hall is a wonderful venue for bluegrass. Featuring a light, airy space, wonderful acoustics, and comfortable seating, it was a perfect venue for a Saturday night concert, which drew Gibson friends and neighbors, fans from as far away as Albany and beyond, and many students for a near sellout.

The Gibson Brothers

 Eric Gibson

 Leigh Gibson


Jesse Brock

Clayton Campbell

Mike Barber

Eric Gibson

Mike Barber

Reaching for that High Note - Clayton Campbell

The Gibson Brothers in Concert at SUNY Plattsburgh - Video

 The Loyal Front Row



At the Merch Table

The Gibson Brothers at Lillian's Restaurant - Saratoga Springs, NY

After a lingering breakfast with Katy Daley and Maureen Staples at Perkins Pancake House in Plattsburgh, we headed south through the Adirondacks, with a brief stop for lunch with our friend Connie Hickey, a run through Keene Valley, and down the Northway (I-87) to the storied gilded age resort of Saratoga Springs, NY, just outside the Adirondack Park. After checking into another Bates Motel in Albany, we returned to Saratoga, in a light rain and very heavy traffic, for the third show in this Gibson Brothers marathon.

Warm Up & Sound Check

Mike Barber

Mike Barber

Eric Gibson

Eric & Leigh Gibson

Lillian's Restaurant is named after nineteenth century singer/actress Lillian Russell, an icon of the gilded age. The room above the restaurant is named for Diamond Jim Brady who was a fabled gambler and horse player around Saratoga during its heyday. The Gibsons have played here regularly since early in their career, and Leigh worked for many years at Saratoga Guitar, owned by the show's  promoter Matt McCabe. The room is warm and dimly lit, both contributing to the intimate atmosphere of this show, just perfect for a Sunday evening performance. Again, many of the Gibson Brothers' oldest friends were there as well as several repeats from the previous night's show.  

Lillian's Dining Room



The Diamond Jim Brady Room

Leigh Gibson

Eric & Leigh Gibson

Eric Gibson


The Gibson Brothers

The Gibson Brothers in Concert - Saratoga Springs - Video
;  

It was an exhausting and worthwhile weekend. Sound in all three venues was superb. Lighting in Plattsburgh was among the best we've seen anywhere. We spent the weekend among friends hearing the best music there is played by the band chosen by their professional peers as the best around for the past two years. Who could ask for anything more? Callie, our new cat came into our lives on Wednesday afternoon. Guess why we chose her?