The Gibson Brothers need no introduction to folks around the state of New York. Eric and Leigh Gibson are New York natives raised in rural, farming country in the upstate region. Despite their wanderings as professional musicians, stints in Nashville and touring from coast to coast, they have stayed– both literally and metaphorically– close to home. In my view, I think this is a big part of their success. They are a success story in a musical genre that churns out all kinds of musicians and bands, but few ever make a living at it. Being from farm country myself (in Missouri), I know the kind of attitude they have embraced. Whether it is having to go out and milk 120 head of dairy cows 365 days a year, plowing fields, dealing with wind storms, or myriad other physical and emotional challenges, you get up and do your business. Bill Monroe was like that.
In The Ground is a fine collection of original songs that embodies the kinds of stories, places, people and musical influences that the Gibson Brothers hold dear. I suppose we can call the brother harmonies a simple gift of nature. You figure they had that from the get-go, though hard work and maturity has enriched the blend. But it’s the songwriting that completes the package for me, and the Gibsons always look inside themselves for the material. That’s called honesty.
The band is classic bluegrass instrumentation, with the addition of Rob Ickes on dobro. Rob’s contributions are always welcome. Mike Barber is on bass, and he deserves way more than a passing mention. Mike has been there almost from the start, and his musical influence, talent and commitment is interwoven with the success of the Gibson Brothers. You know he has his eyes (and ears) on things, and things come out better. Jesse Brock is on mandolin, and, like the band itself, he has an almost immediately recognizable sound. Jesse is a spark plug if there ever was one. His style is really all his own; there is always a bounce and pop in his approach– a little Buck White or something. I love it. Clayton Campbell is on fiddle, and he brings a clean country polish to his playing that hearkens back to Kenny Baker, Gordon Terry and Howdy Forrester. Whatever he does, he serves the song. And you know that’s what it is all about.
Oh, I suppose I should delve into all the songs on this CD, and I certainly have a few favorites. But I won’t. You’ll just have to take my word for it that these are all well-crafted songs.
“Remember Who You Are”
But I will give away one of the song titles that sums up everything you need to know about the Gibson Brothers and what they never forget about themselves: “Remember Who You Are.”
Fred Robbins: Thanks, Chris!
Here’s a 2-song sneak preview they gave us last summer…