The Gibson Brothers

Red Letter Day

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The Gibson Brothers are guitarist Leigh and banjoist Eric Gibson with bassist Mike Barber and a couple other players in tow. Together, these bluegrass pickers bring some dozen years of experience to bear on 2006's Red Letter Day. The band's arrangements combine guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and banjo behind Leigh and Eric Gibson's leads and harmony, creating a lively, contemporary bluegrass mix. On occasion, the Gibson Brothers also delve into country music, utilizing Russ Pahl's steel for "We Won't Dance Again." The band has its liveliest moments when they cut loose on Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman." While the addition of R&B and rock into a bluegrass format no longer seems radical (as it did in the early '70s with New Grass Revival), it nonetheless spices up the proceedings. Red Letter Day also includes a number of likable originals including the title cut. Leigh Gibson's "Sam Smith" tells the tale of one Civil War veteran who has determined, after leaving the battlefield in 1863 (it's never clear whether he deserted or has been injured in battle), to remain in hiding near the Canadian boarder. It's fairly easy to interpret the song as anti-war, though the lyrics are never explicit. The Gibson Brothers end with a dynamic take on Bobby and Shirley Jean Womack's "It's All Over Now," another old rock song (it's somewhat ironic that the sexist lyrics in both "I Got a Woman" and "It's All Over Now" fit very well within a more conservative format like bluegrass). With fine picking and singing, and a solid list of songs, contemporary bluegrass fans will find Red Letter Day easy on the ears.

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