The Gibson Brothers / Level Crossing Legion 614, Scarborough ON - March 23, 2003

The Gibson Brothers / Level Crossing Legion 614, Scarborough ON - March 23, 2003
A thoroughly dedicated pocket of hardcore bluegrass fans got a pure fix of sweet mountain music from Level Crossing, four talented Toronto boys that have risen from bluegrass outfits Blue Mule, Haldimand County Line and Grassworks. Serving up a mix of covers and tasty originals, they effortlessly blended voices and picking styles. Banjo player Tim McDonald's "Up To Heaven" ably demonstrated Garrett Doyle's strong gospel-charged vocals, while new guitarist Clint Street's original "Darlin', You're To Blame" underlined his exceptional guitar skills and the band's overall ability to deliver rich harmonies. Looking far more authentically bluegrass than their audience ever could, the Gibson Brothers took to the stage, instantly mesmerising the crowd with a lonesome sound that was more reminiscent of the blue hills of Kentucky than should be possible for two farm boys from upstate New York. In fact, Eric and Leigh Gibson's sweet harmonies fall somewhere between those of Phil and Don Everly, and Charlie and Ira Louvin, with Eric's pinched tenor blending with Leigh's melodic strains. The addition of ace mandolin player Marc MacGlashan and acoustic bassist Alan Bartan proved irresistible, as they cruised through drop-dead originals from their new disc, Bona Fide, notably "Railroad Line," "Arleigh" and "Vern's Guitar." These are powerhouse pickers before voices are even applied, and generous solos and on a dime musical breakdowns (Leigh on acoustic guitar, Eric on guitar and banjo) were simply a matter of course before harmonies were added like so much creamy butter. Two generous sets preceded two encores, as these gentle country ambassadors mixed and matched Jimmie Rodgers, Louvin Brothers and Peter Rowan tunes to seamless originals like "The Open Road" and "Sam Stone." There is little question about the role of the heart in the making of modern bluegrass music and there is no doubt that the Gibsons apply lots of it to the music they so clearly love to make.