The Gibson Brothers
Ellenburg Depot, NY
Accolades for this group include the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year; Song of the Year; Songwriter of the Year and Album of the Year. Yet even though they are bluegrass superstars, there are still plenty of people outside the worlds of bluegrass and acoustic music who are not yet familiar with their music.
Born on a northern New York dairy farm, they began on banjo and guitar in middle school. Their dad, Kelley, owned a banjo, a fiddle and a guitar, and offered them lessons - under the condition that they not quit. And while they did, indeed, stick to the music firmly planted in farm and family, the brothers expanded outward from there, from the Earl Scruggs lesson book to listening to Don William, to Ricky Skaggs with Emmylou Harris—an important intersection of country and bluegrass—and to the revelatory inspiration of Flatt & Scruggs Live at Carnegie Hall.
From those beginnings, combined with music in church and its emphasis on singing and harmony, the brothers created their own distinctive style of singing and songwriting. "I think there a few things in play here,” said Brother Leigh Gibson. “The first is genetic, the second is tone. The other part is learned. It's the fact that you grow up in the same household, and you learn to talk with the same people. You pronounce things the same way, you mispronounce things the same way. That tightens things just a little bit." Brother acts, he says, often grew up in simple rural settings like their own. "A lot of our entertainment at home came from playing and figuring out songs. Being removed from the rest of the population of bluegrass musicians, there was an individual sound created."
Award-winning bluegrass broadcaster Katy Daley highlights another major part of their impact and appeal: "The music is layered and textured, enhancing the lyrics and bringing the brother-duet tradition into the twenty-first century.” To help in the job, the Brothers have a loyal and virtuosic team of musicians with them. Mike Barber, together with the boys so long he's often called the third Gibson brother, is a 23-year veteran of the band, grounding the duo on bass. Clayton Campbell, outstanding fiddle player, has been providing sensitive back-up and stellar solos for over a decade, and Jesse Brock is a polished veteran who’s earned the IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year award with forceful rhythm and dynamic solos that are by now an integral part of any Gibson Brothers show.