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Gibson Brothers begin new tour with guests on mandolin

Members of the Gibson Brothers bluegrass band perform May 17 at the Strand Theatre in Old Forge. From left are Clayton Campbell, Eric Gibson, Leigh Gibson, Mike Barber and guest mandolin player Jesse Cobb.

Members of the Gibson Brothers bluegrass band perform May 17 at the Strand Theatre in Old Forge. From left are Clayton Campbell, Eric Gibson, Leigh Gibson, Mike Barber and guest mandolin player Jesse Cobb. Photo by Andy Flynn.

“But for now I’m having fun getting to know and work with some incredible pickers,” Leigh said.

The performance in Old Forge was a homecoming of sorts for the Gibson Brothers, who were playing to a crowd of longtime fans and paddlers. Old Forge is on the southern end of their home turf in New York’s Adirondack Park and hosted the annual Paddlefest this past weekend.

Both Clayton Campbell on the fiddle and Mike Barber on upright bass joined Eric and Leigh. Campbell has been with the Gibsons for nine years, and Barber for 20.

“Because of that, we allowed him this year to get married,” Leigh said of Barber, who also co-produces albums with the brothers. “So he’s going to do that this fall.”

Their set began with “Help My Brother,” title track to the 2011 IBMA Album of the Year. It was followed by a collection of songs from past albums, such as “Safe Passage,” “The Open Road,” “Farm of Yesterday,” “Dreams That End Like This,” “Just Lovin’ You,” “Red Letter Day,” and “Walkin’ West to Memphis.” It also featured music from their new album, including “The Darker the Night, the Better I See,” “Dying for Someone to Live For,” “Buy a Ring, Find a Preacher,” and the title track and the Gibson’s current No. 1 hit, “They Called It Music,” which Eric co-wrote with Joe Newberry.

“There aren’t really singles in bluegrass music. Deejays play whatever they like to play,” Leigh said during the concert, filling the time while Eric tuned his banjo. “This is the one they’re playing the most, so it’s kind of the song that’s charting for us. I can’t believe it; I’ve written things for the record, and they’re not really charting. But this one of Eric’s is. Maybe there’s still some payola out in the world Eric’s using up.”

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