Eric and Leigh Gibson were about two hours away from my home doing a show at Byron Berline’s Double-Stop-Fiddle-Shop Theater in Guthrie, OK last year….and I missed it! I’ve been kickin’ myself ever since! Byron’s theater is intimate, warm and diligently refined for acoustic music. In other words, the perfect place to have seen the 2012 IBMA Entertainer’s Of The Year. And I MISSED IT!
I guarantee that won’t happen again…..
“They Called It Music,” their third, and latest release on Compass Records, was recorded at Compass Studios in December, 2012. Eric, Leigh and the “third Gibson Brother,” Mike Barber, their twenty year veteran bass player, produced it with noted engineer Ben Surratt behind the recording board. In 2011, The Gibson’s CD, “Help My Brother,” was the IBMA Album Of The Year, and there’s absolutely no reason why this CD shouldn’t be in the running for that title again.
With Eric on banjo and guitar, Leigh on guitar and Mike on upright bass, they are joined by long time band mates Clayton Campbell on fiddle and Joe Walsh on mandolin. According to Eric, the title song had been worked out and stage tested, but the rest were recorded with minimal rehearsal time. You’d sure never know it by listening! The band grabbed on to these songs and just took off! All the years of being on stage together have seasoned this unit and given them each a sixth sense for how the others are going to jump, move and sway to the rhythm of each song. The dual strength of Eric and Leigh form a middle ground that Mike’s bass just has to add propulsion to, and Clayton’s fiddle and Joe’s mandolin are like hornets darting in and out of the songs stinging your ears with solos and fills.
This recording really shows off the best side of each player, and “Engineer Ben” caught it all in the studio. While working on this review, the band’s press agent released the news that Joe Walsh would be leaving the band to follow another path, and in an e-mail to me from Eric, they wished him well and praised his work on this CD. Although Eric and Leigh have not named a replacement at this time, when the right one comes along, I’m sure he’ll be the “pick of the litter!” New members usually bring vitality, energy and new perspectives, so I fully expect the next incarnation of The Gibson Brother’s Band to be even better than this one.
An even dozen songs are the result of last December’s sessions. Six are originals, and the other six are by such well known and noted writers as Loretta Lynn and Shawn Camp, Joe Newberry, Mark Knopfler, Austin Taylor, Roy Hurd and Elizabeth Hill, and J.L. Frank and PeeWee King. Each one is distinct and interesting in it’s own way. Knopfler’s “Daddy’s Gone To Knoxville” is a favorite. “Home On The River,” by Austin Taylor, dating back to 1913, shows just how superb Eric and Leigh carry the gospel message musically. Their duet on this one is zealous and contagious. You’ll be wanting to sing and clap along from the front pew!
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