Another new CD we can expect in 2008 is Iron and Diamonds from The Gibson Brothers, due in March on Sugar Hill Records. It will feature seven new songs written by Eric and Leigh Gibson, plus covers from unexpected artists like Steve Earle and Tom Petty.
The album was recorded with the touring band – Eric Gibson on banjo/vocals, Leigh Gibson on guitar/vocals, Rick Hayes on mandolin, Clayton Campbell on fiddle and Mike Barber on bass. Junior Barber guests on dobro and Erin LaClair (a Gibson sister) adds vocals.
I had a chance to catch up with Eric recently, and got a few comments about the material on this next project.
“The title cut is one we wrote, kind of a tribute to the Lyon Mountain Miners. There’s a town near us in New York called Lyon Mountain that was a mining town for many years — the mines have been closed since the 60s. The town spawned many fine baseball players. It seemed like the miners would come out of the mines with a vengeance, playing a hard-nosed brand of baseball. We imagine that baseball was such a release for those guys after being underground all week.
The ‘Iron’ in the title concerns the mines, while the ‘Diamonds’ is a baseball image. Leigh and I played for the Lyon Mountain Miners of the Champlain Valley Baseball League in the late 80s, early 90s. They were sons and grandsons of real Miners, but those guys all had that same us-against-the world attitude that I imagine their ancestors had.”
I was especially intrigued by the notion of a Tom Petty cover on a Gibson Brothers CD…
“We’re big Tom Petty fans., and we recorded his ‘Cabin Down Below.’ We’ve been jamming on that song for the last year or so in hotel rooms, in green rooms, etc., just for fun. Whenever we’d get the instruments out, our fiddler, Clayton Campbell, would say, ‘Let’s play that Tom Petty song.’
It’s a great feeling to play a song that makes the whole band smile. We’re very excited with how that song turned out. The energy is through the roof.”
Eric mentioned a few of the other originals that will be on the new CD.
Besides ‘Iron & Diamonds,’ we recorded a Gospel song called ‘One Step Closer To The Grave,’ kind of a dark-sounding, ‘mountainy’ thing. For a couple of the original songs, we recorded with just two guitars and a bass to highlight the brother duet.
Another original is ‘Picker’s Blues,’ a title that’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s not a ‘woe is me’ road musician song though — one of the lyrics is ‘No one makes me sing my songs.’ We do this stuff because it’s what we want to do. We grew up on a farm — now THAT’S hard work!
He mentioned how pleased he and Leigh were that they had recorded this project with their regular band, and a couple of special guests which they knew quite well, musically and personally.
“Our sister Erin laid down some vocals and [bass player] Mike’s dad – and our former band mate – Junior Barber supplied some resonator guitar.
We are really pleased with the sound of the vocals on this project. Leigh and I recorded our vocals on the same mic, laying them down simultaneously, and it’s the best vocal blend we’ve achieved to date on record.”
We’ll be sure to post again when audio samples for Iron and Diamonds appear online.