"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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