When it comes to awards, the five-piece bluegrass band from upstate New York called The Gibson Brothers has had its share. From the 2010 album, “Ring the Bell,” came the International Bluegrass Music Awards Song of the Year and Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year for the title cut. The following year the group’s 10th album, “Help My Brother” (which held the top position on the Bluegrass Unlimited Album chart for eight months), won the 2011 IBMA Album of the Year Award and the band was named the 2011 IBMA Vocal Group of the Year (the first time a brother duet has won this award). Last year, The Gibson Brothers took home the 2012 Entertainer of the Year Award at the 23rd annual IBMA in Nashville. That same night they also won the Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year Award for “Singing As We Rise.” Now, they have a new album — “They Called It Music” — and will bring their music to the Blistered Fingers Family Bluegrass Music Festival at the Litchfield Fairgrounds (www.blisteredfingers.com) on Saturday, Aug. 24. In setting up a phone interview, I discovered that Leigh Gibson (brother to Eric Gibson) was just a few miles south of me, on the road between Harrison and my old hometown of Bridgton, where his wife’s family has lived for a long time. Talk about a small world!

Q: You and your band will be at the Blistered Fingers Bluegrass Festival later on this month — have you performed there before?

GIBSON: I have — we actually were there in June and are set to be there twice next summer. It’s always kind of an easy “yes” for us, or me, anyway, when buyers and promoters inquire about booking us in Maine — especially in the summertime — because it’s nice to come up and see family. It’s a little bit harder with my schedule to break away and go and do that.

Q: Well, as far as your music goes, I’m a huge fan of vocal harmonies — especially sibling harmonies, like the Everly Brothers, you know?

GIBSON: Gee, I listened to the Everly Brothers the entire way on the drive from home up here. Our next record is going to be a tribute record to the brother harmonies and I’ve been trying to put my finger on what makes it so special so I can explain it to other people. Not only do you have the genetic tie, but also a phonetic one that comes from learning to speak from the same people — use the same phrases, pronounce words the same — so they share that similarity. There’s certainly something really special about those classic brother duets.

Q: Any idea when that album might be coming out?


GIBSON: Hopefully sometime late next year, and we’ll be tackling some of their material rather than our own as a tribute.

Q: How long has “They Called It Music” been out?

GIBSON: That was released at the end of March.

Q: How’s it going over as far as your fans go?

GIBSON: Oh, it’s going over really well, a lot of people are looking at it as our best work yet, and in the Bluegrass Unlimited magazine it’s No. 1 as far as airplay goes — and that’s nationally.

Q: Is there a single from it out now?


GIBSON: The title track, “They Called It Music.” The last I heard, that one is at No. 2 and there’s another one at No. 16 or so called “Buy A Ring, Find A Preacher.”

Q: Is that album fairly representational of what you folks are like in concert?

GIBSON: Very much so. Very much so! We’ve had a personnel change since the music was recorded. But it was recorded with the people we tour with — our band and no guest musicians — so it’s very much the way we sound.

Q: Now you said there was a personnel change — where was that?

GIBSON: Well, we had a change in mandolin players. Joe Walsh, who lives in Portland (Maine) was with us for four years and is no longer with the band. So we hired a guy out of Kentucky that we’ve known for quite a while named Jesse Brock. He was voted Mandolin Player of the Year in 2009 by the IBMA and he’s one of the world’s best, for sure. I used to feel sort of defeated if we had any kind of a personnel change at all. But as I got older, I learned that it’s not a defeat. It’s actually that you gain something, in a way. Musically, a new member can bring fresh things. Bands, as you know, seem to change membership all the time, and it’s even more common in bluegrass then other forms of music. But we’ve got one guy who’s been with us for 20 years (Mike Barber, bass) and another one’s been with us for nine (Clayton Campbell, fiddle) so we have long-standing members in our band.

Q: Is there anything, Leigh, that you’d like to have passed on to the folks reading this “What’s Happening” article?

GIBSON: I would say that Blistered Fingers is a great example of everything that a bluegrass festival can be for a family. And if no one has ever tried a bluegrass festival, and they think they kind of like bluegrass but they’re not sure, it’s a great one to try because it’s easy to get to and it’s good music and it’s got a family atmosphere. So, if people think they like bluegrass and would like to hear more of it, then Blistered Fingers is a great place to go!

Lucky Clark has spent over four decades writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: