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Gibson Brothers join "Brotherhood" in style

Johnny D's, Somerville, Mass., March 25, 2015

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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The idea of releasing "Brotherhood" by veteran bluegrass band The Gibson Brothers was a natural. The disc paid tribute to a long list of brother acts including the Everlys and lesser known acts like the York Brothers and the Four Brothers.

While the younger Gibson, Leigh, sure gave Eric a ton of grief throughout the show - all in jest, of course - they sure acted like ever loving brothers when it came to the thing that brother acts are known for - harmonies.

The Gibsons, who hail from upstate New York where they grew up on a dairy farm, sounded divine-llke when they melded their voices together. "The Sweetest Gift" from "Brotherhood," a song recoded by The Blue Sky Boys in 1949, was proof positive with Eric sounding gorgeous on the high notes.

A few of the songs were of the religious variety ("Singing As We Rise"). For the most part, the Gibsons offered a predominant mix of bluegrass and a bit of country.

Leigh was one funny guy, with lots of humorous barbs tossed at his brother and lightening up the mood just enough before turning serious about the music.

This was more a night of Leigh and Eric Gibson shining. When you have a backing band that includes mandolin ace Jesse Brock, that's no surprise. Brock, who has played with the Gibsons for about a year, infused the music with a lot of drive. Long-time bassist Mike Barber established the bottom line, while fiddle man Clayton Campbell made the most of his opportunities to shine. Brock also contributed occasional backing vocals for three-part harmonies.

That was the type of slight change-up in delivery that made for an enjoyable evening.

Having a plethora of high end material also helped. And that wasn't just the cover songs on "Brotherhood." That included the Gibson's "Red Letter Day" and "They Called It Music," an IBMA winner.

As for the covers, the York Brothers didn't vary the titles much, but no matter because in the voices of the Gibsons, both "Long Gone" and the closing song of the night, "Long Time Gone" sounded fresh. Ditto for the Stanleys' "How Mountain Girls Can Love."

The idea of brothers making music together is part of the bluegrass landscape, and Leigh and Eric Gibson made sure they kept the tradition burning bright.

Local grassers Twisted Pine, a quintet of players from around the U.S. who met at Berklee College of Music, opened with a good set showcasing a chunk of chops and bluegrass spirit.