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.