Red Letter Day

Red Letter Day

4.0 1
by The Gibson Brothers
With Red Letter Day, Eric and Leigh Gibson take their place among the bluegrass elite. This is a complete, and completely realized, work of art, comprising beautifully crafted originals, breathtaking arrangements, vocals that burn with conviction and soul, and a choice selection of cover songs. Representing the latter category is Don Gibson's "Lonesome Number


With Red Letter Day, Eric and Leigh Gibson take their place among the bluegrass elite. This is a complete, and completely realized, work of art, comprising beautifully crafted originals, breathtaking arrangements, vocals that burn with conviction and soul, and a choice selection of cover songs. Representing the latter category is Don Gibson's "Lonesome Number One," which gets a dramatic, driving treatment as the album opener; a hard-charging bluegrass version of Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman"; and Bobby and Shirley Jean Womack's "The Last Time," an early Rolling Stones hit that the Gibsons cast in fiery, high lonesome style, with fiddler Jason Carter and mandolinist Ronnie McCoury (both of the Del McCoury Band) providing the instrumental spark behind Eric Gibson's soaring vocal. Red Letter Day's calling card, however, is the brothers' coming-of-age as songwriters. Eric's strutting "Walking with Joanna" is a concise, energetic portrait of a man who willingly forsakes his sinning ways in order to win the girl of his dreams but pleads with God for time to make the turnaround so that Joanna will "see me in a way / That only death can do us part." Leigh's tribute to an authentic Civil War veteran, "Sam Smith," briefly echoes Steve Earle's "Dixieland" at its opening but moves on to recount the reclusive, cranky existence of a man wed to the earth and simple ways, Leigh's sturdy voice imbuing the tale with palpable feeling. With Carter and McCoury sitting in on most cuts, and stalwart bassist Mike Barber keeping the unfailing pulse, the instrumental work is impeccable and emotionally resonant throughout. Red letter day, indeed -- the Gibson Brothers have stepped up, big time.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ronnie D. Lankford
The Gibson Brothers are guitarist Leigh and banjoist Eric Gibson with bassist Mike Barber and a couple other players in tow. Together, these bluegrass pickers bring some dozen years of experience to bear on 2006's Red Letter Day. The band's arrangements combine guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and banjo behind Leigh and Eric Gibson's leads and harmony, creating a lively, contemporary bluegrass mix. On occasion, the Gibson Brothers also delve into country music, utilizing Russ Pahl's steel for "We Won't Dance Again." The band has its liveliest moments when they cut loose on Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman." While the addition of R&B and rock into a bluegrass format no longer seems radical (as it did in the early '70s with New Grass Revival), it nonetheless spices up the proceedings. Red Letter Day also includes a number of likable originals including the title cut. Leigh Gibson's "Sam Smith" tells the tale of one Civil War veteran who has determined, after leaving the battlefield in 1863 (it's never clear whether he deserted or has been injured in battle), to remain in hiding near the Canadian boarder. It's fairly easy to interpret the song as anti-war, though the lyrics are never explicit. The Gibson Brothers end with a dynamic take on Bobby and Shirley Jean Womack's "It's All Over Now," another old rock song (it's somewhat ironic that the sexist lyrics in both "I Got a Woman" and "It's All Over Now" fit very well within a more conservative format like bluegrass). With fine picking and singing, and a solid list of songs, contemporary bluegrass fans will find Red Letter Day easy on the ears.

Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Gibson Brothers   Primary Artist
Ronnie McCoury   Mandolin,Mandola
Russ Pahl   Dobro,Steel Guitar,wah wah guitar
Andrea Zonn   Vocal Harmony
Sam Zucchini   Percussion
Josh Williams & High Gear   Mandolin
Eric Gibson   Banjo,Guitar,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Leigh Gibson   Guitar,Vocals,Tenor (Vocal),Vocal Harmony
Marc MacGlashan   Mandolin
Mike Barber   Upright Bass

Technical Credits

Don Gibson   Composer
Kieran Kane   Composer
John Hadley   Composer
Fred Moore   Composer
Bruce Robison   Composer
Dave Sinko   Engineer
Matt Andrews   Engineer
Shirley Jean Womack   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Eric Gibson   Composer,Producer,Liner Notes
Leigh Gibson   Composer,Producer,Liner Notes
Mike Barber   Producer

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Red Letter Day 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Playing Time – 49:56 -- Bassist Mike Barber’s involvement with Eric and Leigh Gibson as co-producers of this project might have led to the somewhat heavy bass in this album’s mix. Because the Gibsons walk on both bluegrass and acoustic country roads, it was probably mixed this way to simulate a more country-like sound full of the low-end audio spectrum. Eric plays banjo and guitar Leigh plays guitar. In keeping with their signature sound, vocals emphasize brother duet arrangements. Interestingly, Andrea Zonn guests as the harmony singer with Eric on his self-penned “We Won’t Dance Again.” The 15 songs on “Red Letter Day” include five originals and ten others from Kieran Kane, Chris Knight, Bruce Robison, Ray Charles, Mark Howard & Kay Susan Taylor and others. Besides Zonn, other guests include Ronnie McCoury (mandolin, mandola), Jason Carter (fiddle), Marc MacGlashan (mandolin), Sam Zucchini (percussion), Russ Pahl (steel guitar, Wah guitar, dobro), Josh Williams (mandolin) and Clayton Campbell (fiddle). When songs include both mandolin and percussion, I listen carefully to ascertain if there are any conflicts. On “The Barn Song,” “As Long As There’s You,” and “One More Try,” we find that MacGlashan and Zucchini complement each other nicely, largely as a result of MacGlashan’s use of tremolos and fills. The former and latter were both written by Leigh Gibson. In their earlier days, the Gibsons believed that “less is more,” and sparse arrangements weren’t including fiddle or mandolin. After their first album on the Big Elm label in 1994, they signed with the Hay Holler label. Winning the 1998 IBMA Emerging Artist Award, the brothers contracted with Ceili Records. In 2003, we were treated to their first Sugar Hill Records release (Bona Fide - SUG-CD-3965) that offered 9 songs written or co-written by one or both of the Gibsons. Now, the brothers who were raised on a dairy farm in upstate New York have another great release under their belts. There’s a little less of their own original material on their second Sugar Hill release, and I wish their little sis might’ve been invited to sing harmony again. However, their repertoire continues to characterized by very strong material, many songs that have hard-hitting stories to tell or paint vivid portraits of people. The Gibson Brothers fuller and more abdominal brand of bluegrass might be a bit heavy on the low-end, but that gives it both full body and mental capacity. “Red Letter Day” is a superlative and authoritative statement of their explosive sound. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)