Bluegrass From the Heart

Real music for real people, that’s the Gibson Brothers’ philosophy.

“You have to believe what you’re singing about,” says guitarist/vocalist Leigh Gibson, who plays with his brother Eric. “I hope that people, when they listen to us, even if they don’t love what we’re doing, they think we’re being true to ourselves and are real.”

Hailing from New York, the Gibson Brothers made the journey North last month, to play the Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Whitehorse, and will be returning in to play Atlin Arts and Music Festival, July 12-14.

The Atlin performance will mark the last Canadian date of their tour for their eleventh and latest album, They Called It Music.

It is their seventh release in a row to reach the top of the prestigious Bluegrass Unlimited’s Top Album chart. Gibson finds this encouraging and gratifying, even as he acknowledges that his band’s sound may not resonate with all listeners.

“We’re a bluegrass band that writes original material – in a nutshell, we’re a brother duet, most all our vocals are in a duet style,” he says.

Many of their songs are based on their upbringing on a New York dairy farm.

“A lot of the themes are similar themes that you might hear in southern Appalachian mountains but they’re true to us because of where we grew up and how we grew up,” he says. “You’re not going to necessarily hear a lot of standard bluegrass material coming from the stage when we’re performing. It might take a little longer to get into what we’re doing if you don’t know any of the songs, but we find as we make fans, we make them and keep them.”

Gibson also notes that some of his favourite audiences and fans are found in the smaller communities.

“What I find about the people from that area is that they’re so very giving of themselves, so as a traveler or a stranger you’re welcomed in and shown things, they’re so willing to share the experience of the North with you,” he says of his recent experience at the Kluane Bluegrass Festival.

“We’ll play in the larger cities and it’s nice to see that, but it’s also nice to see the other choice, people making the choice to live a quieter type of life and the experiences that come with that, I think there’s more a sense of community because you’re dependant on one another a little more when there’s fewer of you… people find a way to get along better, or at least be involved in each other’s lives a bit more in the smaller communities.”

Gibson is eager to perform at the Atlin Arts and Music Festival, where they will be performing with the likes of Canadian stars Hawksley Workman and Emm Gryner, country icon Michelle Wright, east-west fusion artist Harry Manx Vancouver’s The Boom Booms, and Steve Brockley Band, as well as Yukon performers Soir de Semaine, Brenda Berezan and the Free Radicals.

“I’m very much looking forward to [Atlin] because everybody in Whitehorse was telling me how great Atlin is and how laid-back and gorgeous it is and you know, to me, Whitehorse… is absolutely stunning, so when the locals up there say it’s really beautiful in Atlin, it’s got to be really spectacular, so I really look forward to that,” says Gibson, adding that though he hated to leave Whitehorse last month, it was a little easier knowing he’d be back soon. “When we’re up there, people thanked us for coming up, but the honour is all ours,” he says. “There’s no other place I’d rather go, and that’s the truth.”

For a schedule of events and the full lineup of the Atlin Arts and Music Festival, go to

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