The Gibson Brothers release new album on own label

Jan. 12—PLATTSBURGH — On Jan. 27, the Gibson Brothers drop "The Darkest Hour," the first release on their new label, Bull Run Records.

TREASURE CHEST

Eric and Leigh Gibson sent their vault of unrecorded songs to producer and Dobro master Jerry Douglas, who sorted through the cache to produce a 12-track stylistic masterpiece with songs two-decades old and others brand new.

The Gibsons' beautiful, heart-deep compositions recount heartbreak and discontent and also odes to strong, ride-and-die, side-by-side loving women and not.

During the COVID-19 pandemic roller coaster, Ellenburg's most famous bluegrass sons wrote a lot of songs and recorded the first six tracks in March 2020.

They returned to Nashville to wrap up the disc in February 2021 at the Sound Emporium Studios, Studio B.

"We had the studio booked in Nashville with Jerry Douglas. Just before we went to Nashville, we had a series of dates to play in New England," Eric said.

"I was watching the news and I talked to a friend of mine from Italy, and he's telling me how coronavirus had started over there and they were shutting schools down. It sounded like such a nightmare scenario. We were hearing rumblings of it, you know. I remember coming upstairs and telling my wife, we are in trouble. She said, 'Don't over react. Things are going to be okay.' I said, 'I'm telling you this guy is telling the truth. This is going on.'"

The Gibson Brothers band went out and did those jobs with the exception of the last one that was canceled. The band drove to Nashville anyway.

"We all made a deal with each other," Eric said.

"We're just going to hang out with each other. We're going to treat this like a little cocoon and do this record. We recorded half of it, the first six songs. We just decided to head home because we were watching the news and we were getting nervous and feeling like we needed to be with our families ASAP. So, we went home."

In Nashville, the Gibsons had several productive days.

"We were so excited about what we were getting, and we were just blocking the world out and pretending everything was okay and just losing ourselves in the music as much as we could given the circumstances," Eric said.

TITLE TRACK

Leigh wrote the title track, "The Darkest Hour."

"That one sounds like it could have been written right in the midst of the pandemic, but it's actually one that he had before all this started," Eric said.

"The title may seem like a gloomy title, but it's a hopeful song. The first time we played this song, I looked out in the audience and when Leigh said that line about 'There's time I feel I don't fit at all,' I saw a man just burst into tears at that line. When a song can touch somebody like that."

Eric said it's always hard to find the title track.

"What do we call this thing, you know," he said.

"We ended up deciding on 'The Darkest Hour.' I just think it's a beautiful song."

This 12-track disc features musicians: Mike Barber (bass), Jerry Douglas (Dobro and lap steel), Justin Moses (mandolin), Eamon McLoughlin (violin/fiddle), John Gardner (drums) and Guthrie Trapp (electric guitar) and Todd Parks (bass).

Eric texted Jerry about the album the other day.

"Every song has its place," Eric said.

"There are no two songs that are the same on this record, and I love that."

'INSTRUMENTAL BRIDGES'

The songs are sonically different for the Gibsons.

"What I think is Jerry put beautiful instrumental bridges," Eric said.

"I would never would have thought of it for some of these songs. Take your ear to a different place for a little while, then back to what you were used to. After it happened, I said I got to hear that again. That's what I think is different about some of these songs."

Leigh is really proud of the album.

"I'm proud of the amount of songs," he said.

"We wrote all of these. It's just not something that you always see, for us even. It's important to me that we wrote everything on this album. It proves we can still do it."

The Gibson Brothers debuted on their defunct label, Big ELM, and they've come full circle with Bull Run Records.

"The industry has changed that much in a big way," Leigh said.

"Now, whenever we talk about getting people to check out our music, we direct them to the streaming services. No one mentions selling records anymore. Buy it here. Listen to it here. It's crazy for a guy whose been in the business as long as I have now. What is monetized now is not the same as it was years ago. You really were wanting to sell those records because that is how you were making your living. Yes, people do still buy records. It used to be you go out and tour to support the record because the record was generating money. The old dogs are learning new tricks."

LONG HAUL

The year 2023 marks Mike Barber's 30th anniversary in July with the band.

"We bought him a telecaster the 25th year," Eric said.

"We're probably going to have to buy him something on the 30th. I love that guy. My best stories start with 'So Mike, Leigh and I were ..."

Email Robin Caudell:

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