RALEIGH, N.C. — Eric and Leigh Gibson stepped onstage to accept the title of Entertainer of the Year sharing the same thought.
“Guess that proves to me that last year wasn’t a fluke,” Leigh told the crowd at the International Bluegrass Music Awards in Raleigh, N.C., last Thursday night.
“We never thought it would happen again,” marveled Eric via cellphone from North Carolina, where the North Country bluegrass band was continuing to enjoy the IBMA convention.
The Gibson Brothers, who wore that same crown last year, arrived in Raleigh with seven other nominations for this year’s awards.
The experience kicked off on a high note at a luncheon Thursday afternoon, when Eric was named Songwriter of the Year, along with Joe Newberry, for a song they wrote together called “They Called it Music.”
So when the brothers and their band — Mike Barber (bass), Clayton Campbell (banjo) and Jesse Brock (mandolin) — got to the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts with one award already, “we were feeling pretty good,” Eric said.
That mood was sustained when the group’s name was called for Vocal Group of the Year and then again for “They Called it Music” as Song of the Year.
Newberry, who has collaborated with the Gibsons in the past and is a good friend, lives in Raleigh.
“So it was especially sweet for him to stand on that stage,” Eric said.
The song was one that Eric thought was pretty special from the moment the words were on paper.
Judging from its popularity, he said, “it spoke to people everywhere.”
The Gibson Brothers performed at the show, playing “Dying for Someone to Live For” from their “They Called it Music” album.
And then came the surreal moment that wrapped up the show, winning that second consecutive Entertainer of the Year title.
“It’s such an honor that enough of your peers think of us that way,” Eric said.
The band’s other nominations included Album of the Year for “They Called it Music” and Gospel Recorded Event for “Home on the River.”
Brock, who joined the group last April, was up for Mandolin Player of the Year, as he was last year, too.
And he won that title in 2009, Eric said.
When Joe Walsh left the Gibsons, he said, Brock stepped in without losing a beat.
“When Joe had other commitments before, we were lucky enough to get Jess to play. And we when we had an opening, he came on board.
“It was a smooth transition.”
‘CITY WANTED US THERE’
The Gibsons picked up their awards last year: Entertainer of the Year and Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year for “Singing as We Rise” at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
And in 2011, at the same venue, they were named Vocal Group of the Year, and “Help My Brother” won Album of the Year.
“Ring the Bell” won Song of the Year for the Gibsons at the 2010 awards at the Ryman, along with Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year.
The year 1998 in Nashville saw them win Emerging Artist of the Year.
This was the first time the IBMA Awards convention has been held in Raleigh, and it welcomed the bluegrass world with open arms, Eric said.
“Boy, there was a lot of excitement in that city,” he said. “It wasn’t just another convention coming through town — the city really seemed to want us there.”
Friday, still pumped from the awards show, Eric and Leigh mulled over possible songs for their next album.
They’d talked about cutting a brother tribute album for maybe a decade; now it’s going to happen.
“It’s exciting,” Eric said of the prospect. “It feels like now is the right time for it.”
They’re in legends country, looking at songs by the Louvin Brothers, the Everly Brothers, the Blue Sky Boys.
“We’ll be trying to put our own stamp on them,” he said.
Eric wasn’t sure if any other bands have worn the Entertainer of the Year crown two years running, but he knows some bluegrass greats have taken it home again, again and again ...
The prospect of future titles is one Eric did not speculate about, except to say they don’t take any award for granted.
“There are so many good acts in bluegrass you never rest on your laurels,” he said.
Email Suzanne Moore:firstname.lastname@example.org