|This review from Request was included with a press release for the Gibson Bros. album The Man Who Loved Couch Dancing which features Jon Spencer and Cristina Martinez and was issued on vinyl, cassette and CD.
Photo caption “There are no brothers in the Gibson Bros.”
“MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE – Maybe Robert Johnson didn’t die on his knees barking like a dog. Maybe Charlie Patton was not part Indian. It’s likely Howlin’ Wolf didn’t drink battery acid as a child. But there’s no doubt their music, rooted in passion and emotion, remains a timeless inspiration even as rock ‘n’ roll dies a long, slow death. A similar passion possesses Jeff Evans, Don Howland, and their friends, who collectively make up the Gibson Brothers.
“I don’t want to use the word ‘musicologist’ or ‘archivist,’ ” says Evans from his Memphis home. “I am living and breathing, and I like rock ‘n’ roll. But our music is not the stuff that 14-year-old girls go crazy over. We only have so much range, and we try to make up for it in enthusiasm, being fans of the music more than players.”
“We don’t try to be faithful to the songs,” Howland adds, “but we try to do them with the same kind of love that the original people probably had. Blues is a treasure-trove of great songs, and it always pissed me off that so many people didn’t know who these guys were. When our second record [accidentally] came out with-out writing credits, it was totally against everything the band was about.”
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Evans moved to Memphis in 1989, laying the foundation for the band’s relocation. Howland intends to follow. “Much of the current music scene in Memphis has little to do with the fact that Elvis Presley walked the streets of Memphis or that Rufus Thomas still does,” Evans says. “On the other hand, for me to be here and see Jessie Mae Hemphill, the Fieldstones, or to go to Junior Kimbrough’s house – that stuff is right out of the ’30s South. There’s a lot of people that that doesn’t have any appeal to at all, but to me it’s like time stood still, and that’s something you can grab on to.”
Their passion for blues and rockabilly has led to the release of Punk Rock Driving Song of a Gun a collaboration with the Workdogs, a Hoboken rhythm section that, according to Howland, “heard our first performance in New York when we were so drunk and loud that no one could have enjoyed it, and they wrote us a letter saying they loved it.” A friendship ensued, leading first to a Workdogs’ release on the Gibson’s original label, Orka, and this collaboration.
Another album set for imminent release will feature various configurations of the band. Among the guests are members of the Panther Burns, a band of kindred spirits, and former Pussy Galore guitarist Jon Spencer, who has toured with the group several times. If the band’s recording path recalls a wandering minstrel’s, it’s not unlike the way some of its favorite musicians worked. “I hope we make people aware of these blues players,” Howland says. It’s fun to trace things back and get purer and purer the further back you go. I used to listen to Gun Club and Flaming Groovies, and, I don’t know, some stupid-ass thing got me into it, and maybe we can be that stupid-ass thing for some other people.”
– Robert Gordon. “