Bona Fide

Bona Fide

by The Gibson BrothersThe Gibson Brothers


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After an ill-fated stab at mainstream country, the Gibson Brothers' return to the bluegrass fold on Bona Fide -- an all-acoustic outing spotlighting Eric Gibson's banjo and Marc MacGlashan's mandolin -- could not have been more eloquent. Tender sentiments, lilting melodies, and a gentle, bracing rhythmic drive permeate both the original songs by Eric and Leigh Gibson and a choice batch of covers, ranging from the traditional breakup lament "Beautiful Brown Eyes" to Tom T. Hall's sepia-toned slice of old Americana, "Don't Forget the Coffee, Billy Joe" (with a cameo by Tom T. himself). The brothers, who write both separately and together, evince an eye for the telling detail. This is manifest in the sharp distinctions of the brisk "Ragged Man," which heralds the burgeoning class warfare between brothers whose lives are headed for different strata; this track also features one of four memorable guest shots by the Del McCoury Band's estimable fiddler Jason Carter. Equally notable is the somber "Railroad Line," a poignant depiction of a community and a way of life rent asunder by the decline of the steel rail, with the mournful strains of Jeff Taylor's lonely accordion solos magnifying the enduring sorrow left behind. The brothers harmonize beautifully on the marchlike strains of "Arleigh," a fond reminiscence of their granddad's tireless work ethic, while Eric shows off some heartfelt crooning in "Vern's Guitar," a quiet, folk-styled tale of a widow's prized heirloom. Sister Erin Gibson lends her pure, keening voice, so reminiscent of Iris DeMent's, to the lead vocal and group harmony of the stately inspirational album closer, "The Lighthouse," a perfect sign-off to an album as soulful as it is masterfully executed.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/11/2003
Label: Sugarhill
UPC: 0015891396521
catalogNumber: 3965
Rank: 114015


  1. The Open Raod
  2. Arleigh
  3. Ragged Man
  4. Railroad Line
  5. The Bluegrass Music
  6. Vern's Guitar
  7. Where Nobody Knows My Name
  8. Shucking The Corn
  9. Don't Forget The Coffee, Billy Joe
  10. Whisper In My Ear
  11. Norma
  12. Beautiful Brown Eyes
  13. The Lighthouse

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Gibson Brothers   Primary Artist
Tom T. Hall   Guest Appearance
Luke Bulla   Fiddle
Jeff Taylor   Accordion
Eric Gibson   Banjo,Rhythm Guitar,Vocal Harmony
Leigh Gibson   Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Marc MacGlashan   Mandolin
Mike Barber   Guitar,Upright Bass

Technical Credits

Roy Acuff   Composer
Tom T. Hall   Composer
Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith   Composer
Mike Barber   Composer
Buck Graves   Composer
Dave Sinko   Engineer
Gladys Stacey   Composer
Louise Certain   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Eric Gibson   Composer,Producer
Leigh Gibson   Composer,Producer

Customer Reviews

Bona Fide 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
About seven years ago, Eric and Leigh Gibson were telling me about their brand of bluegrass which emphasized the old theory that "less is more." They described it as bluegrass with control in which the instruments don't crowd the singer or other instruments. In other words, they believed in letting their music breathe. At the time, the Gibson Brothers weren't including a fiddle and mandolin in their lineup either. Leigh played guitar, and Eric picked banjo. In 1994, they released their first album on the Big Elm label, then they signed with the Hay Holler label. After winning the 1998 IBMA Emerging Artist Award, the group contracted with Ceili Records. Now, the two brothers who were raised on a dairy farm in upstate New York have joined the roster of one of bluegrass' most renown labels, Sugar Hill. Mike Barber has reunited with the brothers on upright bass. Their band sound is fuller with the likes of Marc MacClashan picking mandolin, and Jason Carter or Luke Bulla playing fiddle on this album. Sam Zucchini and Jeff Taylor also add bodhran and accordion, respectively, to one song apiece. Erin Gibson's singing on "Beautiful Brown Eyes" and "The Lighthouse" is a welcome treat. The Gibsons still emphasize two-part brother harmony, and it might be nice on future releases to hear more trios from the band, with little sis singing lead or harmony. The brothers' repertoire has always been characterized by strong original material, and this project offers nine songs written or co-written by one or both of the Gibsons. Standouts include those that tell hard-hitting stories (Railroad Line, Vern's Guitar, Where Nobody Knows My Name) or paint vivid portraits of people (Arleigh, Ragged Man, Norma). Also, their newgrassy "That Bluegrass Music" is a testament to their love for the genre. This album screams when "Shucking the Corn" spins, and Tom T. Hall's "Don't Forget the Coffee, Billy Joe" (complete with Tom T.'s cameo line "now pay attention, son") seems a tongue-in-cheek statement regarding misplaced priorities in a troubled world. The Gibson Brothers now offer a fuller and more visceral brand of bluegrass than they did a decade ago. Bona Fide, is a top-notch album, and as the title claims, the Gibson Brothers' bluegrass is sincere, authentic and genuine. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)