Huffington Post: Blistered Fingers Festival Shows Bluegrass’s Americana Roots, “Picking” at its Finest

"The Gibson Brothers headlined the peak Friday of Blistered Fingers in an aggressive schedule of two, one-hour sets inside of six hours. “I remember pushing the Gibson brothers out on stage in the mid-1990s and they were scared to death,” recalls Greg Cormier, cofounder of The Blistered Fingers bluegrass festival

“He couldn’t have written that song [In The Ground] if he hadn’t lived it,” says Eric Gibson, one of two brothers who form the five-member Gibson Brothers bluegrass band. “I don’t know how he sings that line. I have to steel myself to it.”

Eric refers to Leigh Gibson, his brother and the writer credited for “In The Ground,” the title song that shares the same name of the band’s latest bluegrass album. The lyrics incorporate multiple themes that refer to death, the economy of agriculture, and clearing hemlock and planting crops."

Bluegrass Unlimited Album Review: In The Ground

In the world of brother harmonies, the Gibson Brothers have set the Gold Standard. Brother harmonies have always been a mainstay of their performances and recordings, gained from their early listening to artists such as the Everly Brothers, Jim & Jesse, the Lilly Brothers, and Blue Sky Boys. Since their debut in 1994, the Gibson’s have earned multiple IBMA awards and six SPBGMA awards, including IBMA’s Entertainer Of The Year and SPBGMA’s Vocal Group Of The Year.

Bluegrass Today Album Review: In The Ground

Songwriters are often told to write what they know. No surprise, then, that the latest CD from the Gibson Brothers, In The Ground, is packed with songs about the road, the good old days and deep introspection and reflection.

Eric and Leigh have been playing music together since childhood on the upstate New York farm that shaped their lives and has informed their songs since they started recording. And they’ve shared countless miles and hotel rooms as they chased their musical dreams. All of that is reflected here.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking this Rounder Records offering is more of the same. It’s not. The subjects might be familiar, but many of the songs are fresh and powerful. And the music covers a lot of territory, from the bluesy feel of Eric’s Highway, which kicks off the 13-song collection, to the old-time country shuffle echoes of The Stanley Brothers in Leigh’s Look Who’s Crying.

Exclaim Album Review: In The Ground

The "brother duet" has always been a staple of bluegrass music. With voices that just seem to naturally ring together, sibling groups like the Louvin Brothers, the Delmore Brothers and Jim and Jesse McReynolds helped define the vocal side of the genre. The Gibson Brothers carry on this tradition, but they also carry it forward. Their music is faithful to the brother duet format, emphasizing tight harmony singing, and after a dozen albums over more than two decades, this most recent recording consists entirely of original Gibson Brothers material.


Q&A with Katy Daley – The Gibson Brothers

Q&A with Katy Daley – The Gibson Brothers

Posted on February 10, 2017 By Katy Daley

Here is Katy’s interview with Eric and Leigh, The Gibson Brothers, about their latest album, In The Ground, due February 17 on Rounder Records. She takes them through each of the tracks for something of a verbal preview.

KD: We’ve been looking forward to this album release for two years. Your last release was Brotherhood, which paid tribute to other brother duets. In the Ground contains all original Gibson Brothers songs. When we say co-written, do you automatically put each other’s names on a song?

Leigh: No. If I were to seek assistance from Eric in any kind of way to complete a song, I would credit him as a co-writer. If I lend a few lines or an idea, he would do the same. There are some where we didn’t have a chorus yet. Depending on the song, we might contribute more than others. We don’t have the situation where everything he writes my name automatically goes on it and vice versa. We actually have to do some work to get a co-write.

Click here to read the full article. 

Elmore Magazine - In the Ground (Review)


The Gibson Brothers

In The Ground

From their hardscrabble, gratifying dairy farm upbringing in the northernmost reaches of New York State, the Gibson Brothers know tradition. With In the Ground, they’ve perfected their brand of traditional bluegrass, played and sung with bright fire. A fire born of just plain being American-real. Heritage translates to beautiful, exciting musical events in every one of these 13 songs, on the Brothers’ (lucky?) 13th album. But luck needn’t be considered, because the Gibson’s have the goods, and the shelves full of awards for it. This time, the songs are all theirs, comprising the most “Gibson” Gibson Brothers album yet.

Click Here for the Full article. 

NO DEPRESSION - The Gibson Brothers and the Search for Excellence


This is the story of two brothers who, after more than 20 years on the road, are still striving to become the best that they can be and have achieved “instant” success.

After writing about genius last week, this week I'm taking on subjects like work ethic, commitment to excellence, maximizing the use of your own and others' talent, continuity, and plain old hard work. Because, for the large number of musicians who are not geniuses, the keys to success lie in these old-fashioned, well-respected American values.

The Gibson Brothers, born 11 months apart in 1970 and 1971, grew up on a 650-acre dairy farm in Ellenburg Depot, New York, just a couple of miles south of the Canadian border. The land there is flat, and making a living at farming it is challenging at best. Looking south from where their farm stood, you can see the Adirondack Mountains, rising to 5,000 feet and covering two and a half million acres. Those mountains separated them from the then-thriving farms and factories of central New York State.

The Gibsons worked on the farm under the loving but stern direction of their late father, Kelley, who taught them hard work and that they were not to become farmers when they grew up. They went to church, listened to country and bluegrass music on the radio, played school sports, hunted, and farmed. In their time, they both went off to school -- Eric enrolled at Ithaca College, where he wanted to play baseball, but he later transfered to the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, where Leigh was already enrolled. Both graduated with dual majors including English. Meanwhile, they were playing music in church and soon at small festivals, and they were writing songs.

The rather lengthy clip above provides real insight into the show Eric and Leigh Gibson have honed and continue to sharpen. It contains three songs that suggest the continuum of their musical heritage: 

"The Happy Sunny Side of Life," a song recorded by the Blue Sky Brothers, is a regular component of their performances, but they have not recorded it because it's slated to be included in a biopic of Bill Monroe that's still in production.

"Farm of Yesterday" is a biographical song Eric wrote to capture the strength and enduring character of their father.

"Hold Watcha Got" is classic bluegrass. Written by Jimmy Martin, the song captures his zest for living and the spirit of bluegrass. The Gibson Brothers sing it frequently.

Those three songs are interspersed with the freeform patter and brotherly bickering that always provides insight into their lives, reflects the affection and competition between two brothers, and never brings audiences to the point where they squirm with discomfort. The Gibson Brothers work without a set list or a script. Never think, though, the program is purely ad-libbed. They choose songs by listening to and responding to their audience, while their patter is both spontaneous and carefully polished.

What has helped to create the success of the Gibson Brothers? They first achieved national notice when in 1998 they were named IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year in 1998. Soon they joined Skaggs Family Records, recorded a project there, and languished for two years, unable to find a major country label to release it. When they decided to cast their future with bluegrass, they had to painfully and carefully rebuild their career. Since then, every new record released by the Gibson Brothers has reached the top spot on the album charts of the most important magazine in the field, Bluegrass Unlimited.

About 18 months ago, the Gibsons signed a recording contract with Rounder Records, the most consistently high-performing label in roots and bluegrass music in the country. Their latest recording,Brotherhood -- a change of pace collection containing songs from pioneer brother duos -- also reached the top.

The band has, over the years, achieved a remarkably consistent sound. They've emphasized a strong continuity of band members, but they've also improved their lineup with every change. Mike Barber, on bass, has been with the band since the beginning. He's importent enough to the band to have been given co-producer credit for the last few peojects. Alterations have occurred in only two positions, at the ends of the line. When Junior Barber, a fine Dobro player, left the road, they added Clayton Campbell, a young fiddler from Kentucky, who has been with them for 14 years. Campbell contributes a soaring, melodic fiddle sound that always serves the song. The addition of two-time IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year Jesse Brock brought driving enthusiasm, lightning speed, precision, and a third voice, when needed, to the mix. All of this makes the Gibson Brothers immediately recognizable even before they begin to sing.

We knew the Gibson Brothers had entered the pantheon of popular bluegrass bands when, one afternoon in North Georgia, we heard their 2010 IBMA song of the year "Ring the Bell," written by Chet O'Keefe, being sung in a jam. Since then, Eric's co-write with Joe Newberry, "They Called it Music," has also joined the standard jam repertory.

This song embodies much of what has built and maintained the Gibson Brothers through the last decade and more. It tells a story at once simple and sparely complicated about the appeal of music through the ages. It contains a catchy melody using the hoary, hallowed three-chord structure to near perfection. It appeals to the past and the present, recognizing contributions from tradition while calling for continued development. In other words, it's a Gibson Brothers song.

When Sugar Hill Records joined the Rounder stable recently, four difficult-to-find releases reappeared on the Gibson Brothers' merch table for those who still want to own physical recordings. Older material from as far back as Hay Holler Records can now be found online. Much of their catalog can be heard from the stage. Especially in upstate New York and New England, where fans have followed them for decades, they could easily play only old favorites to the satisfaction of everyone, except themselves. But they don't rely on their past.

Recently, the brothers have begun showcasing a few new songs they're preparing for their next release. They work together on the road, and new material sometimes emerges and gets completed between their sound check and when they take the stage. In the coming year, you'll hear more of the new material in workshops as they test them on their knowledgeable audiences, get feedback, make small adjustments, tinker with the work. They work hard at songwriting, which makes a difference for them as it combines with their oh-so-fine singing and precise instrumental work.

A Gibson Brothers performance includes warm personality, finely crafted songs, humor, and a hard-working, highly skilled band reaching out to everyone. If you haven't discovered them yet, now's the time.

Here's another example of a typical Gibson Brothers performance in concert in Rochester, New Hampshire, a couple of years ago. It includes Eric's song "Callie's Reel," a country song by Shawn Camp and Loretta Lynn, and one of the best contemporary performances available of Bill Monroe's instrumental standard, "Big Mon." Enjoy!