"The fat lady's singing, and no it's not you/ it's just an old saying that's been overused/ she's raising the roof top, a tune loud and clear/ and I get the message, I'm not wanted here." - I'm Not Wanted Here - Eric Gibson.

The Gibson Brothers have fertile roots for their bluegrass - the upstate New York dairy farm where they milked by day and sang at church at weekends.

Ellenburg Depot, south of the Canadian border, is not exactly Kentucky but it was far enough from the Big Apple to have a classic country radio station.

It was there Eric Gibson learned banjo after hearing Flatt & Scruggs Live At Carnegie Hall and developed a penchant for the harmonies of the Louvin Brothers.

Now, on sixth album Long Way Home (Sugar Hill-Shock), they're belatedly winning exposure here.

Eric and guitarist brother Leigh are prolific writers but kick off their disc with one of six covers Mountain Song - penned by New York bred Kieran Kane, Sean Locke and Chad Jeffers.

And it was on a front porch at Redford near the Adirondacks that Eric wrote Callie's Reel with Roy Hurd.

The Gibson Brothers, like Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen, have blended their Louvin style vocals with a dash of the Bakersfield sound.

They revive Satan's Jeweled Crown, penned by Edgar Eden and cut by The Louvins in 1958, and also revamp the Gordon Lightfoot title track and Robbie Robertson's Ophelia. But their own songs - diverse as the regret of Leigh's I Gotta Get Back To You, Any Man In His Right Mind and Dreams That End Like This and Eric's ruptured romance requiem I'm Not Wanted Here - are equally memorable.


Ironically it was a TV special on Merle Haggard that inspired Eric to write The Way I Feel.

"I was glad that tribute was being played but mad at the same time," Eric says in the liner notes, "mad that I rarely get to hear Merle on the radio any more and mad that there's such a thing as too country. I shut the TV off, went out to the kitchen with my guitar and wrote another too country song."

That frustration with the corporate radio chains contempt for roots country is reflected in the song's sentiments in the bluegrass sales revival kick started by movies and TV.

"I play an old guitar/ it won't stay in tune but it don't get out too far/ it may be ragged but it's real/ nobody's listening but they know the way I feel."

They finish with Eric vignette He'd Take Her Back Again inspired by Johnny Cash and a friend's heartache.

The Gibson Brothers blend of acoustic and bluegrass merits widespread airplay - maybe discerning community radio shows will be their salvation here.

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