Eric 2010/08/09 11:10am

Our evening set at the Podunk Bluegrass Festival was invaded by a trio calling themselves The Honkytonk Angels. Clad in short skirts and colorful wigs, they danced in front of us enthusiastically and got on-stage to sing their 'hit,' "It Wasn't God Who Made Honkytonk Angels." I had several folks say, "You guys acted like you had no idea that was going to happen." That's because we didn't. We had fun with it. Leigh's response was priceless: "Well, I don't know who those girls were, but I hear there's a new band on the scene that will make its debut during Rhonda Vincent's show. I hear they don't wear pants." The whole festival had a fun factor you don't see everywhere. The line-up was stellar. The weather may have contributed, an absolutely perfect day to experience outdoors. The sound company, Rosewood Sound, did an incredible job. Everything lined up for C. Roger Moss, the promoter, and I'm glad because he's worked so hard. Later on in our show, I was buying time for Leigh to re-tune for "Mountain Song," mentioning our Facebook page and saying that we'd like to get some new friends from this happy crowd. Leigh jumped in, "I don't need that kind of friend. I need the kind that's going to go over to our record table after the show. Forget Facebook friends; I need Checkbook friends." He is one witty sonofagun.

We did a songwriting workshop that confirmed what I already knew: we're ready to record again. We have the material and a band that's cooking. It's time.

My oldest son Kelley is a big Ricky Skaggs fan (like his father). We have hundreds of CDs in the house, and one day I found eleven of them on his desk -- all Skaggs records. He begged me to take him to Podunk to see Ricky's show and to possibly meet him. I've known Ricky for a long time, but I wasn't going to bug him with so many people vying for his attention. I didn't need to. Stan Zdonik introduced Kelley to him. Ricky made a big deal of him and asked him if he'd like to play the mandolin he'd just purchased last month. Kelley, having no idea that it had belonged to Pee Wee Lambert and was on all the early Stanley Brothers recordings (including "White Dove"), said he'd very much like to play it. Backstage, I watched Ricky put the strap around my son's neck and held my breath as I witnessed Kelley playing on wood and wires something worth way more than his old man is. Ricky smiled and said, "The boy pulls great tone!" Kelley will never forget it, and neither will I. 

When Ricky came out of the shadows backstage at the Ryman over a decade ago and told us how much he enjoyed our singing, it was a red letter day for us. We'd seen him on Hee Haw and Austin City Limits. We'd gone to the Clinton County Fair with our girlfriends as teens and watched him from the front row. We loved his early bluegrass records and rooted for his country songs as they climbed the charts. When we recorded our country record with him, it was a dream come true. Things did not work out for us and the record has never come out, but I think the time we spent with Ricky made us better musicians. It was a good feeling Saturday night to hear Ricky say, "I was talking to Eric Gibson about the Stanley Brothers backstage..." Growing up on that farm, I never dreamed we'd get to work with him, or he'd be talking about me on stage in front of 5,000 people...or that he'd put his Loar in my son's hands.