2013 IBMA Awards - 10/1/2013

The first thought that crossed my mind as I heard “Entertainers of the Year, The Gibson Brothers” at IBMA in Raleigh on Thursday night were the words that Leigh spoke into the microphone upon reaching the podium.  “I thought last year might have been a fluke, but I guess it wasn’t.”  We hadn’t said those words to each other, but it shouldn’t surprise me; many times we’re thinking the same thing as we make this journey.  Leigh will turn to me on stage and suggest a song that we haven’t done in ages, and it is the same song that I had in mind.  We agree on most things: song selection, business decisions, the New York Yankees.  None of this would have been possible without brotherhood, and I don’t believe it would be as satisfying.  What do I know?  I have nothing else to compare it to.  I think I’m right though.

We couldn’t have kicked if any other name was called out the other night.  All of those acts are wonderful.  They all work hard and put on wonderful shows.  If someone would have told me ten years ago that we would be awarded Entertainer of the Year for two years in a row, I would have laughed.  For some reason, I have always had a nagging feeling that those kinds of things happen to other people, that somehow we’re not worthy.  My wife said to me a few years ago, “You need to start seeing yourself a certain way if you want other people to see you that way.”  That doesn’t mean that you get a big head and start being a prima donna.  However, I think she is right.  I think that Leigh and I have surrounded ourselves with such good players (and guys) that we can’t help but feel good about ourselves when we hit the stage.  We made a conscious effort a few years back to start wearing suits unless the heat was unbearable.  That doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for us.  It feels to me like a baseball team that has its uniform just right – when I suit up, I’m ready to do my job.  I know how I felt in the audience years ago seeing Del and the Boys.  When they hit the stage, you know you were in for a show.  Part of it was reputation, but part of it was they looked like they owned the stage with their appearance, that they felt good about being there.  Of course, their virtuosity and soul didn’t hurt either!

Leigh said something the other day that I have been thinking for a time but had never voiced.  I heard him say to someone who had remarked that we look comfortable on stage, “It’s the place I feel most safe.”  Hit me hard.  It is exactly what I feel.  It is something that can be controlled to a degree.  The outside world can be blocked out and problems can be left behind for the ninety minutes or so that we are there.  It is my hope that it is how our audience feels as well.  I have had people tell me that our music makes them feel, helps them heal.  That is heady stuff, but as we get older, I am drawn to songs that are uplifting.  We do our share of sad songs as well, but I want people to head home with a smile.  I remember playing in my grandparents’ kitchen and not just picking and singing, but having fun and making everyone laugh.  I used to think, “It is too bad we can’t take this to the stage.  People might like it.”  Well, foolishness has crept into our show, and people DO like it.  We don’t ever want to get carried away and act like a bunch of clowns, but I want things to be light-hearted.  We don’t script things, and I think people like the natural banter between us.  I never know what Leigh is going to say, and neither does the audience.  Whether he is making fun of my ‘out-of-work weatherman hair’ or I am making fun of his lack thereof, it’s all in good fun, and folks with a sense of humor get that we are real live brothers just having fun.

I should say that IBMA was rocking in Raleigh, that the city opened its heart to our organization, wide open.  There were so many smiling faces gathered in one city last week.  No grins were wider than mine as I met two of my biggest heroes for the first time, Tony Rice and Bela Fleck.  They were just as nice as I hoped they’d be.  And by the way, Tony Rice’s induction into the Hall of Fame was one of the most moving moments I have witnessed.  People will be talking about it for years to come.  A personal highlight for me was harmonizing with Del McCoury downtown after the show, a real ‘pinch me’ moment for yours truly.

We are so thankful to everyone who played a part what has happened in our career: band mates, fans, record labels, radio, our agent, new management, but most of all God and family.  We are excited to keep this going and to see where it all leads.  Thank you for giving us the confidence to be who we are and for making us feel that we are no fluke, that we are where we belong, in the right place and time.  We will take nothing for granted and try to make better music than we’ve ever made.  This is going to be fun.