By Kendra Hendren
Special to the Rappahannock News
It’s often said that “it all begins with a song.”
The Gibson Brothers’ title song of their latest album, “In the Ground,” speaks to the end of the family farming era, when men and women could support themselves and their families on the acreage around them. It’s also about time moving on and progress being a double-edged sword. Though this is a theme familiar from earlier Gibson Brothers songs, it hasn’t been done better or more powerfully than here, again with the multiple layers of meaning of “In the Ground” — the term, from planting and harvesting, to the heyday and demise of the family farm, to birth and death, ultimately being placed in the ground at the end of it all.
Indeed, In the Ground may be the Gibsons’ most personal album to date, recalling moments from childhood and what it was like to be the last generation of their family to grow up on a dairy farm in northern New York, close to the Canadian border, in a place that felt locked in time.
“We are a team,” Eric Gibson muses. “We slept in the same room on the farm, slept in the same dorm room at college, and often room together now on the road. I’m proud that whatever Leigh and I have accomplished has been together.” And despite their many career advances, it’s clear that the brothers can still dig deep into the roots of their own musical heritage and indelible memories of parents, home, and loss.
“’Remember Who You Are’ is what my dad said to me right before I went to college,” says older Gibson brother Eric, and sure enough, the opening lines of the chorus point straight to his advice: “Some will tell you everything you want to hear, some will make you question all that you hold dear.”
In the same vein, Gibson explains that “Fool’s Hill” is “based on an expression I heard my mother and grandmother use about young people getting in trouble. . . ‘Oh, he’s just climbing Fool’s Hill.’”
Other songs explore aspects of a musician’s life.
“‘Friend of Mine’ began as a song about a guitar,” says Leigh Gibson. He was gifted a 1940s-era guitar from a friend who passed away. Then, he says, that idea was coupled with the sheer joy of driving down the road with Mike Barber, the band’s bass player, who has been with the band for over 23 years.
The New York Times said, “The Gibson Brothers are now bluegrass superstars who have won numerous International Bluegrass Music Awards, including entertainer of the year, song of the year and album of the year.”
You can experience the Gibsons’ exceptional harmonies right here in Rappahannock on Saturday, April 28th, at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at LittleWashingtonTheatre.com.