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Gibson Brothers, James King share favorite songs at Grey Fox

New mandolin players settling in

James King performed with the Gibson Brothers July 19 at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, giving a workshop titled, “Our Favorite Songs.” From left are Eric Gibson, James King, Mike Barber and Leigh Gibson.

James King performed with the Gibson Brothers July 19 at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, giving a workshop titled, “Our Favorite Songs.” From left are Eric Gibson, James King, Mike Barber and Leigh Gibson. Photo by Andy Flynn.

It may also be fun for their fans, of which they have many. And their awards are piling up, too. James King is the 2013 Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA) Male Vocalist of the Year (traditional), and the Gibson Brothers are the 2012 IBMA Entertainers of the Year.

In another twist of fate, the mandolin player who was performing with King on the Creekside Stage — Jesse Brock — also played on the James King Band’s upcoming Rounder release — “Three Chords and the Truth.”

“Ken Irwin of Rounder Records gave me a call and said they were putting this project together and asked if I was interested in being a part of it,” Brock said after the “Favorite Songs” performance. “I said, ‘Sure.’ That was a no-brainer for me. I love James’s music, and it’s been about a year, a year and a half since we did it in the studio.”

Adjusting to life on the road with Eric and Leigh Gibson has been a natural process for Brock, who spent his childhood touring with his own musical family.

“I already feel like a brother. I feel like a Gibson,” Brock said. “I’ve known the guys since the ’90s when they were in the infant stage of their career, and it’s great to see them blossom into such a wonderful group with great business minds. They’ve, along the way, acquired the know-how to stay in business, and I’m glad to be a part of it and be part of the team.”

Since late June, the Gibson Brothers and the James King Band both acquired new mandolin players. Brock, who signed on June 19, met David Watson Jr. of the James King Band informally for the first time backstage between the bands’ sets. Watson, playing his eighth show with King in a few weeks, was so fresh that Chance Leadbetter was still listed as mandolin player on the James King Band’s website during Grey Fox.

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