Monday, October 13, 2014

A Gibson Brothers Day in North Carolina

Interview and Meet & Greet at Lowe Vintage Instrument Company

 Lowe Vintage Storefront

A Realm of Wonder
Photo: Lowe Vintage

Burlington, NC is a once thriving town made comfortable and important by its location along a railroad line where it became the center for locomotive repair and then the growth and wealth brought by the textile industry brought to the Carolinas by low wages and the proximity of cotton. Once known as Company Shops, the city changed its name to Burlington when the railroad left. Since its height, the railroads have mostly died, and both textiles and cotton have largely left North Carolina for lower labor costs and less expensive land on which to grow cotton. Burlington remains a regional center for industry and commerce and seems to be in the midst of an urban revival centered on downtown Main Street, where Lowe Vintage Instrument (327 S. Main Street, Burlington, NC) has built a lovely shop to buy, sell, and repair fine instruments amidst other shops, restaurants, a restored theater, government services, offices, banking, and other commerce. (Thanks to Bob Webster for the brief tour and orientation.)

Restored Movie Theater - Burlington, NC

The Old Railroad Station

Looking Down Main Street

Vintage Instruments, presided over by Ed Lowe and his son Will, along with Will's younger brother, provides an environment where customers can feel free to sit and play dozens of fine instruments as they seek just the right one to meet high standards of sound and performance. Each instrument has been burnished and set up to high standards by luthier David Sheppard, whose work is superb. David knows his stuff from both the shop and the stage, where he is lead singer and guitarist with his wife Ivy for the rising band The South Carolina Broadcasters . On Saturday, the newly opened shop, replacing the basement where Will and his father Ed have done business since 2004, hosted an in-store interview of the Gibson Brothers by Cindy Baucom (one of bluegrass' foremost broadcasters and IBMA Broadcaster of the Year in 2005) of Knee Deep in Bluegrass followed by a meet and greet.

Will Lowe

 Jesse Brock & Leigh Gibson Consult with Will
about an early 20th century guitar

Broadcaster Cindy Baucom Interviews Eric Gibson

Master Luthier David Sheppard Samples His Own Work

The Gibson Brothers dropped by Lowe Vintage Instrument for the interview on their way to a concert in Taylorsville, NC before heading to the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, TN for a Sunday appearance. Winners of the 2012 and 2013 IBMA Entertainer of the Year Award as well as many others over the past decade, each one of their last seven CD's has reached the Number One spot on the bluegrass charts. Their new CD from Rounder Records, featuring performance of brother duos from the mid and late twentieth century will be released in February. This will be their first recording not featuring any songs composed by the Gibson Brothers, but including music from other great brother duos, a club the Gibsons clearly belong to.

Cindy Baucom Interviews the Gibson Brothers

Eric Gibson

Leigh Gibson

Cindy Interviews Mike Barber

...While Eric & Leigh Look On

Jesse Has His Say, Too....

Recording a Song Live for Cindy's Show

The interview offered a fascinating view inside the broadcast process as well as plenty of insight into the Gibsons themselves, as Cindy Baucom asked thoughtful and probing questions going beyond the often surfacy stuff of radio interviews. The interview which will air this week on Cindy's syndicated radio show both on air and online. Check her web site for times) covered the Gibson Brothers background growing up on a farm near the Canadian border in northern New York State, as well as insight into their work and future directions. Perhaps most interesting to me was Cindy's ability to provide record relatively .hort interview segments which were focused, insight provoking, and pointed while keeping in mind the need to keep spinnng recordings on her show, which would be inserted in the production process. Baucom conducted the entire interview without a single note, while juggling her small hand held microphone, keeping focused on moving along. She's a real master of the art. The Gibson's responses were engaging and real. One of their amazing qualities is their ability to provide answers to questions they must hear frequently while staying in the present, seeming neither canned nor responding by rote...a trick in itself. At noon, the interview finished, the doors were opened and a small crowd came through to meet the Gibson Brothers, buy CD's, get autographs, and play some instruments. It was an engaging and satisfying morning.

Jesse Road Tests a 1923 Lloyd Loar Gibson

Leigh's Always on the Lookout

Eric with a Fan

Let's Give this One a Try

Headline: Jesse Goes Electric!

Mike, Jesse, Leigh, Cindy, Will & Eric

After lunch we drove the 117 miles to Alexander County High School in Taylorsville, NC to find the Gibsons already there and ready for their sound check. The High School (the only one in rural Alexander County) has a lovely auditorium seating 600 and offering wonderful sound qualities. Promoter Ray Johnson has hosted a number of shows there and sound provided by Young Audio of Lincolnton, NC was excellent.

Emcee Cindy Baucom

Idle Time Band

The show was opened by a solid local band called Idle Time Band. North Carolina is filled with music, and bluegrass represents a major component. Competition for bookings for many of these part-time bands is fierce and competitive, the opportunity to perform much less available than the number of bands ready and willing to fill the space. For instance, their were nearly thirty North Carolina bands scheduled into the showcase venues at the recent Wide Open Bluegrass component of IBMA's World of Bluegrass in Raleigh during and immediately after the Awards ceremony. The Idle Time Band, like many of these bands, is filled with musicians whose love of the music brings them together to play, but for whom the rigors and risks of the road don't call strongly enough to wrench them from jobs and family. The Idle Time Band is a worthy member of this large and able cohort.

Russell Laudermelk

John Treadway

Eric Childers

Billy Warren

Jimmy Trevette

The Idle Time Band - Baby Gone Home - Video

The Gibson Brothers

As has often been said about the Gibson Brothers, they have become an instant success after twenty years of hard work, perseverance, and thoughful analysis of themselves and their unique sound. Their success provides a model for what it takes to reach the summit. They are known for their own revealing and insightful song writing, and for their intelligence in selecting co-writers to work with as well as covers that reflect the Gibson ethos. The band is characterized by a high level of stability, with the only changes in the last ten years at mandolin. Their humorous and slightly edgy by-play emphasizes the tensions that can arise between brothers while never reaching the point of discomfort for the audience. They work without a play-list, always adjusting their program and their patter to audience responses. It comes together to create an exciting program of great music combined with comfortable and real humor.

Leigh Gibson

Eric Gibson

Mike Barber

Jesse Brock

Clayton Campbell

The Gibson Brothers - Bye Bye Love - Video

The Audience

Eric & Leigh

The Gibson Brothers - Satan's Jeweled Crown - Video

In the Lobby

At the Merch Table