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The Gibson Brothers
Bona Fide

Review By Steven Stone
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The Gibson Brothers Bona Fide

CD Number: Sugar Hill Records SUG-CD-3965


  Family-based bands have populated traditional old-time country and bluegrass since their earliest beginnings. Eric and Leigh Gibson follow a long line of sibling duos that started way back with the Delmore brothers and includes Carl and J.P. Sauseman, Jim and Jessie, Carter and Ralph Stanley, The Bailey Brothers, The Goins Brothers, The Osborne Brothers, The Louvin Brothers, and of course James and Bill Monroe. The Gibson Brothers began playing together in 1983, and by 1995 had a contract for their first release, Long Forgotten Dream, on Hay Holler Records. After two more releases, Spread Your Wings, and Another Night of Waiting, they earned the 1998 IBMA (International Bluegrass Musicians Association) emerging artist of the year award. Shortly after that they signed with Ricky Skagg’s Ceilli Records, but it would be four years till they released their next album, Bona Fide, on Sugar Hill Records. During this recording hiatus the brothers did a lot of songwriting for country artists before deciding to come back to the traditional bluegrass fold once more.

Bona Fide features Eric Gibson on vocals and banjo, Leigh Gibson on guitar and vocals, Mike Barber on upright bass, Marc MacGlashan on mandolin, and musical guests Jason Carter and Luke Bula on fiddle. Along with nine original tunes Bona Fide has tunes by Tom T. Hall, Ronald Hinson, Louise Certain, and traditional. Their own songs have a fine balance of traditional orchestration, sound, and lyrics with modern sensibilities. Take "Vern's Guitar" which uses the occasion of an old guitar’s sale to look at aging, love, and the joys and pitfalls of trying to acquire a venerable instrument. The Gibsons are obviously well versed in bluegrass traditions, but they also know how to craft a song that speaks to contemporary concerns. Their sound sits halfway between traditional and newgrass, which is a nice place to be.

Recording engineer Dake Sinko and mastering engineer Randy Leroy from Final Stage Mastering have created an exemplary acoustic recording. Voices are clear and warm and instruments have the right combination of vibrancy and natural euphony. After their four year recording break, the Gibson Brothers are back with an album that should please not only their older fans but any new listeners who choose to give them a spin.




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