GB Leighton
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GB Leighton

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August 10, 2006
Contact: Mark Zenow
Phone: 919-859-5333


For music fans in Minnesota, GB Leighton has been a household name for nearly a decade. Now with the release of the double-disc DVD Live at the Minnesota Music Café, people outside the Midwest will be able to see why Minneapolis-based GB Leighton has become one of the region’s most popular bands.

It’s obvious from the DVD’s first moments that audiences are passionate about the music created by lead singer Brian Leighton, who also plays guitar and harmonica. Each of the discs twenty-three songs seemingly touches audience members at their core.

“Part of the connection with the audience,” Leighton explained, “is that out of some stroke of luck I’ve written songs that people want to sing. They become part of the band. It incorporates them into the show.”

In fact, it was his fans who prompted the idea for the DVD in the first place. “This is so much better than the bootleg recordings of our shows which have been circulating amongst fans for years,” he added. “People have been asking me for a long time about something like this.”

The skilled players backing Leighton are equally talented, and their musicianship shines as brightly as the multi-colored lights reigning down from above the venue’s stage. The video looks and sounds great, thanks in part to state-of-the-art sound and lighting the Minnesota Music Café offers.

The six-piece group, which includes a violin and saxophone player, has been a staple of the live music scene in Minneapolis and throughout the region. The band has played venues such as O’Gara’s and Bunkers in Minneapolis, Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn, Illinois and Shank Hall in Milwaukee, along with non-conventional gigs at the Minnesota Governor’s Mansion, church festivals, and a special show in March 2006 for Minnesota National Guard troops who were shipping-off to serve in the Middle East from Camp Shelby in Mississippi.

In recent months, Leighton’s presence outside the Midwest has been expanding.

In 2005 he caught the eye of former Hootie and the Blowfish manager Rusty Harmon, whose North Carolina-based firm, Murphy to Manteo, also represents New Orleans’ rockers Cowboy Mouth (Eleven Thirty Records), country newcomer Jason Michael Carroll (Arista Nashville) and veteran musician and producer Don Dixon (R.E.M, Smithereens).
Harmon recognized similarities between Hootie and the Blowfish in the 1990’s and GB Leighton today. “I see the same thing with Brian Leighton today that I saw fifteen years ago with Hootie - good songs that people like to sing, and diehard fans at every show,” Harmon explained.

For Leighton, who has been self-managed most of his career, the new addition to his team has been a breath of fresh air.

“You can only do so much and go so far without the help of someone who has been there and has the knowledge to make things happen,” Leighton said in reference to his recent alliance with a management firm. “This music business is just that, a business. So much of what happens is on desks in offices behind closed doors. Now I have someone working that end of the business for me, allowing me to concentrate on making good music.”

Leighton’s roots-rock music has at times leaned a bit toward a country sound. Harmon realized this and arranged co-writing sessions with some of Nashville’s biggest names: Liz Rose (Gary Allen’s “Songs About Rain”; Bonnie Raitt’s “Back of the Bottom Drawer”), Clay Mills (Diamond Rio’s “Beautiful Mess”; Danielle Peck’s “I Don’t”) and Billy Livsey (Lorrie Morgan’s “Good As I Was To You”; Mark Chesnut’s “Almost Goodbye”).

For Leighton, an accomplished songwriter already, the experience has been eye opening. “Nashville has some of the greatest songwriters in the world,” he said. “To work with people that do that every day is incredible. I learn new tricks each time I sit down and write with them.”

The songs co-written during recent Nashville excursions lead him to believe the next record will be his best to date. “If there is one specific thing I’m looking for in songs it’s usually about being positive,” Leighton said. “Negative can be good for some people, but I’m trying to write the song to pull them out of the negativity.” Work on the next record continues and should be released in early 2008.

According to Mark Zenow, who handles publicity for Murphy to Manteo, “There are a couple of recognizable producers who have expressed interest in making Brian’s next record, but we’ll have to wait and see how scheduling and budgets work out to determine how it all comes together.”

No matter who it is though, Brian is confident his next record will be his best one to date, and for a guy who has already sold tens of thousands of records, that’s a good outlook.

GB Leighton’s DVD Live at the Minnesota Music Caf - Murphy to Manteo

Brian Leighton, leader of Twin Cities rock band GB Leighton, has run his group like a business. Now, like many business owners, he is considering how to grow. A nightclub and a new online release are part of the effort.

By Todd Nelson, Special to the Star Tribune
Last update: October 07, 2007 – 3:55 PM

GB Leighton

From band to brand

For more than a decade he has worked tirelessly, building a solid enterprise and developing a large, loyal clientele across the Upper Midwest.
More recently, he's taken his wares online and gone into diverse new interactive venues.

Now, as he promotes a new product release, his thoughts are about getting bigger, taking an already strong regional brand and going national with it.

The aspiration is familiar to many small-business owners -- even if singing, writing songs, recording albums and touring nonstop aren't.

Brian Leighton, leader of veteran Minnesota rock band GB Leighton, wants to take his brand national. While his concerts are a must for diehard fans, Leighton's entrepreneurial efforts are likely to strike a chord with the business crowd.

He's no Jimmy Buffett, who has built a business empire around one song. But Leighton seeks a bigger profile, while balancing his artistic and commercial aims.

"I've maintained a career for a while," Leighton, 37, said in an interview last month on the eve of the release of "Shake Them Ghosts."To think of it as like some multimillion-dollar company, I'm not there yet. I'm definitely striving to get there someday."

Leighton has run his band in business-like fashion for years. He plays three to five nights a week primarily in the Twin Cities area but also ventures outstate and plays in Chicago, Milwaukee, Des Moines, Fargo and other Midwestern cities.

He has set up two corporations -- one for touring, which pays regular salaries to the five musicians and three crew members he employs (providing them unusual security in the music world), and the other for his merchandise and albums.

He also has licensed the use of his name and a song title for a new nightclub, GB Leighton's Pickle Park, which opened in June in Fridley. The decor includes memorabilia of rock stars, including Leighton, and a 32-foot-long replica of his guitar on the ceiling over the main bar.

Leighton will perform at his namesake locale eight times a year. He also hangs out there frequently, dropping by from his nearby home in New Brighton.

Club affiliation

Tom Tomaro and Mike Tupa, who own the club with general manager and minority owner Amanda Kranz, are longtime Leighton fans.

Tomaro said he has seen Leighton's band pack clubs since he tended bar while he was in the entrepreneur program at the University of St. Thomas. A bar owner for the last 12 years, Tomaro said it's taken several years to persuade Leighton to do business and to find the right place.

"Having the GB Leighton brand to open a place like this is essential," said Tomaro, who has other locations in mind for future Leighton clubs. "Because I had watched Brian operate for so long, I saw that he was a good businessman, that he ran a professional business."

Leighton has sold close to 80,000 albums over the years, all independently, never having signed with a major record label. He estimates that he has sold 5,000 copies of "Shake Them Ghosts" at his live shows, and thousands of others at retailers such as Target, Best Buy and Snyder's Drug Stores.

The new album also is available from his website, ( and as a digital download from the iTunes Music Store and other services linked from his site.

Fans also can go to his website to sign up for his second annual tour to Acapulco this January, booked through Bianchi-Rossi in Golden Valley. More than 150 joined him for performances at the Hard Rock Cafe and other venues and poolside chats last winter, and more than 200 are expected next year.

"The biggest key to it comes down to fan base," said Leighton, who aspires to connect with fans the way his idol, Bruce Springsteen, does. "I've been fortunate to have fans who enjoy what I write, they can't wait for more albums, they love the merchandise and they go to the shows. Some of them go to every show. Some of them follow us to Mexico."

In the last year or so, Leighton signed with a new personal management company, North Carolina-based Murphy to Manteo Music Management, whose partners managed Hootie & the Blowfish to national prominence in the 1990s. Leighton had been without a manager for some time, but decided he needed some direction.

"I needed somebody to help me get beyond this point here," Leighton said. So far the focus has been on doing things to make existing fans feel special, and to attract new fans to his rootsy, Midwestern rock, which draws comparisons to John Mellencamp.

The primary lure is "Shake Them Ghosts." Leighton traveled to Nashville to work with top songwriters on what he said was his strongest collection of so - Star Tribune

GB Leighton: A Roots Rock Band to Watch

It’s been said that fine, delicate wines need to mature slowly. For bands, sometimes that’s true. In GB Leighton’s case, it has taken almost two decades of songwriting and serious performing to develop into a force that is poised to take on the musical world. That maturing is grounded in Brian Leighton's songwriting, his powerful vocal delivery, and the backing of a phenomenally talented band.

There is nothing delicate about GB Leighton. However, there is a rootedness in Minnesota “nice” that pervades the songs and the band’s performances. Even when Leighton sings about bad boys, there is still the urge to forgive the young pup, no matter what he did.

That is one reason why GB Leighton has been a big draw to Minnesota clubs. Brian and his band seem to generate a good time wherever they play, whipping up audiences, not into frenzied crowds, screaming for his body or into drunken music fanatics, but into warm friendly places where people dance till they drop and sing along with Leighton standards. The band creates a Cheers type of atmosphere, where everyone knows your name–or soon will–while couched in musical refrains.

Leighton’s love of music began in his Shoreview, Minnesota home, listening to the country outlaws of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson and eventually being turned on to Bruce Springsteen who offered a vocal delivery full of energy that profoundly influenced Leighton’s own singing style. He began playing guitar at 14, and started GB Leighton at 18, his first and only band. The band recorded its first studio album a few years later in 1991, when Leighton could legally play in bars. Then in 1994, the band produced One Time...One Life, an album of songs, some of which Leighton still pulls out at every show. Other studio albums, live cuts, and a DVD followed, with nearly a dozen recordings to the band’s credit.

In the early days, GB Leighton burned a path through the US, playing such clubs as Tramps in New York, Howin’ Wolf in New Orleans, Mississippi Nights in St. Louis, and Bohager’s in Baltimore. The band even sold out in 800 to 1200 seat venues, while continuing to draw eager fans to regional clubs, becoming overwhelmingly one of Minnesota’s top-drawing bar bands. Leighton has also opened for the BoDeans, bluesman Jonny Lang, and Joe Cocker. He and his band appeared in a cameo and on the soundtrack for the independent film, The Marksman, which was viewed at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in 1997.

Though Leighton has stayed close to home for a number of years, only slipping down to Acapulco in the winter for a week of non-stop music, he and the latest incarnation of his band are ready for wider touring. And, with good reason. His current band lineup is strong enough to stand against Leighton’s powerhouse vocals. Now, he has to reason to hold back and doesn’t, allowing him to give everything he can during performances without fear that he’ll blow a band member (or the audience) out of the venue. He has a big sound that comes from deep inside, but there is a clear, understandable quality to his singing without distortion or screaming. His audiences want to catch not only the words but the vocal nuances that he uses and his choice of phrasing. That is further enhanced by strong vocal backup by band members Luke Kramer, James Patrick Carey, and Jason Perri.

Though Leighton is definitely in charge on stage, he is also generous. Long time bandmate, Kramer complements Leighton’s songs with intricate guitar riffs and, on the new album, Shake Them Ghosts, lap steel, and takes several solos during shows. Carey on keyboards and Perri on sax and fiddle (yes, fiddle, in a rock band!) add color and energy throughout the songs. Perri shines as he struts on his part of the stage, adding those high note solos, and Carey rocks, swinging his keyboard layout to the side so that the audience can see his fingers dance among the keys. Nick Salisbury on bass and Ryan Inselman on drums, the anchors of the band, keep the musical organism moving and always danceable, and sometimes take a solo themselves.

Though the band is tight and has great vocals, GB Leighton could remain a bar band for another twenty years if it weren’t for the songs that Leighton has been writing. And, the latest batch on the new album, Shake Them Ghosts, have shifted the band into brand new territory. As Leighton evolved over the years, the energy and pureness that was present in his Live From Pickle Park album (1998) was lost as Leighton moved into more pop sounding arenas that culminated in his This Life album in 2003. Though the songs themselves were good, there was something missing. When Leighton and his band entered Winterland Studios in Minneapolis last December to record Shake Them Ghosts, Leighton not only was reclaiming something of himself but also moving out into a gutsy, rootsy genre that had a much broader appeal and -

By Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune
It may not look like it, since he's playing the St. Patty's Day gig at O'Gara's again Saturday and still hits Bunker's most Wednesdays. But man-about-town Brian Leighton has been setting his sights well beyond the Twin Cities over the past year.

He and his semi-eponymous band, G.B. Leighton, recently joined the roster at national booking agency Monterey Peninsula and then signed with the North Carolina management company that launched Hootie & the Blowfish. Their new managers then hooked them up with Don Dixon, co-producer of R.E.M.'s "Murmur" and several Smithereens discs.

Dixon and the band spent the last few weeks of 2006 holed up recording at -- of all places -- Leighton's parents' house in New Brighton.

"My parents were out of town for the winter, so their place was empty," Leighton explained. "It was more comfortable than a studio. And a lot cheaper."

Another reputable rock veteran, drummer Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp, Bob Dylan), was brought in by Dixon for some sessions at Winterland Studio. The end results will be a new G.B. Leighton album this year, one that Brian hopes will get a national release and put the band on tour more.

"I love all the work we get around here," he said, "but we're ready to give it more of a shot in other places, see what happens."

Saturday's green bash at O'Gara's will feature a big tent and other sets by Tim Mahoney, Tony Sims and more (3 p.m., $10). - The Star Tribune

By Janie Franz
Contributing Writer

Everywhere that G.B. Leighton goes, he brings a good time. His upbeat rock 'n' pop creates a party and was responsible for his appearance in the Shooting Star commercial. A Shoreview, Minnesota native, Leighton and his band have been pumping up audiences four or five nights a week in intimate little clubs to large stadiums throughout the country for almost two decades. In the early days, they burned a path through the U.S., playing such clubs as Tramps in New York, Howin' Wolf in New Orleans, Mississippi Nights in St. Louis, and Bohager's in Baltimore. The band has sold out in 800 to 1,200 seat venues but continues to draw eager fans to area clubs, becoming overwhelmingly one of Minnesota's top-drawing bar bands. Though Leighton tours nationally a little less lately, preferring to play regionally to be close to his family, he does take his musical wares down to Acapulco every January for a week of non-stop music and fun. Check his website for the 2008 dates.

Brian Leighton, lead singer and songwriter, has also opened for the BoDeans and fellow band mate, Johnny Lang, at the Minnesota State Fair. He also has opened for Joe Cocker at the Minneapolis State Theatre. Leighton and his band appeared in a cameo and on the soundtrack for the independent film, "The Marksman," which was viewed at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in 1997.

When audiences come to see G. B. Leighton, it is clear they have a long and intimate history with Brian Leighton and his music. Audiences not only get up and dance, but they know all the words to their favorite Leighton tunes and sing loudly, becoming a part of the fabric of the evening's musical experience.

Leighton's music is a mix, having developed some depth in recent years. There is still a sprinkling of club rock, a blend of innocent lyrics and happy tempos that keeps audiences on their feet and feeling good. There also is an honest roots rock or bluesy/country rock feel that some have said is Springsteen-esque but feels more like Steve Earle. It's still danceable and audience-singable, but it triggers something deeper that speaks at living and loving hard. It isn't quite the country thing that sometimes bleeds about hunting for love or hurting over it and it isn't quite the light rock thing that often is shallow and glitzy.

Audiences will see more of this rootsyness in Leighton's new album, "Shake Them Ghosts," coming out in May. Raised on country and early Bruce Springsteen, it is no wonder that Leighton keeps returning to the earthy music of the people as an avenue to tell his own stories in song. "We've been working on writing these songs for a year now and going down to Nashville and co-writing with a bunch of people down there," says Leighton. That experience was eye-opening since it defies what you'd expect the creative process to be. "It's different, but it's a learning experience. There are lots of people down there, and that's what they do for a living. They write songs in a room."

So, Leighton brought his ideas and partial songs to a room with a couple of other songwriters, and they hammered and polished and worked out the songs together. Though you'd expect these songs to sound like most of what's coming out of Nashville (songs about pickup trucks, honkytonks, and redneck lovers), Leighton's work is still his own unique perspective on loving and living. For example, "When You Get Home" is a great cut about a young man's life from boyhood to being shipped off to war. Leighton has always been able to capture more than a smooth pickup song. His "Man in the Moon," a song from one of his older CDs, tells about faithfulness and standing with someone no matter where they are.

One reason for the lack of twang in this new album is the strength of Leighton's songs and the match up of good songwriters. His manager went to the head of the publishing company and arranged for songwriters who would be more in keeping with John Mellencamp or Tom Petty's style for Leighton's Nashville writing experience.

"Most of the time it's a breath of fresh air for these writers," says Leighton, since they don't have the opportunity to dip into rock and roll very much.

But the collaborative work definitely has Leighton as the primary focus. "I'm ultimately going to be singing and playing the songs," he says. "We're not in there to just write a great country hit or anything like that. We there to write something just a little more rocking and something that will use words that I'm going to say live." Shake Them Ghosts will be Leighton's seventh studio CD.

Get a taste of GB Leighton this Friday at Playmakers. When "Shake Them Ghosts" comes out in May, expect to see much more of him.

WHO: GB Leighton
WHEN: Friday, March 16, 8 p.m.
WHERE: Playmakers/The Venue - High Plains Reader

Tel: 919-859-5333 November 30, 2006


MINNEAPOLIS – The Midwestern rock band GB Leighton will join forces with renowned producer Don Dixon (R.E.M., The Smithereens) and acclaimed rock drummer Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp, Jon Bon Jovi, Rod Stewart) to record its first studio album in more than 2 years. The band’s ninth studio album will be recorded at Winterland Studios in Minneapolis during the months of December and January, with an expected release in the spring of 2007.

Over the past decade, GB Leighton has worked relentlessly to become a household name to music fans in Minnesota and the upper Mid West, playing up to 200 shows a year and selling over 70,000 CDs without major label support. Band manager Rusty Harmon, former manager of Hootie and the Blowfish and head of the North Carolina-based management firm Murphy to Manteo, jumped at the opportunity to help the band make a great new album. “This studio recording will be Brian’s strongest effort to date both in terms of songwriting and production values.” said Harmon. GB Leighton’s last release, Live at the Minnesota Music Café, was recorded at the Minnesota Music Café in St. Paul and released in 2006, making it the band’s 9th release in twelve years. The CD is a companion to a live double-disc DVD of the same performance. Their last studio release, This Life, was recorded in 2003.

During the past year, the band’s lead singer and founder Brian Leighton has collaborated with some of Nashville’s most talented songwriters: Liz Rose (Gary Allen’s “Songs About Rain”; Bonnie Raitt’s “Back of the Bottom Drawer”), Clay Mills (Diamond Rio’s “Beautiful Mess”; Danielle Peck’s “I Don’t”) and Billy Livsey (Lorrie Morgan’s “Good As I Was To You”; Mark Chesnut’s “Almost Goodbye”). From these sessions came a collection of finely tuned songs to complete GB Leighton’s new album.

Producing the album is Don Dixon, acclaimed for his work with R.E.M., The Smithereens and Chris Stamey. As a producer, Don is considered one of the forerunners of the jangle-pop movement of the early 80s. As a solo artist, Dixon has released eight CDs, toured the US and Europe, and written songs recorded by Joe Cocker, Counting Crows, Hootie and the Blowfish and Marti Jones. Dixon has also retained a high profile as a session bassist and singer, appearing on hundreds of recordings including those of Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Golden Palominos and astroPuppees.

Kenny Aronoff is one of the world's most influential drummers, having played on hundreds of records by artists such as Rod Stewart, Avril Lavigne, Meat Loaf and Melissa Etheridge. He has also toured with artists such as The Smashing Pumpkins, Willie Nelson and Michelle Branch.

Winterland Studios has recorded an impressive array of artists such as Lenny Kravitz, Alanis Morrisette, the Black Eyed Peas and Jessica Simpson. The studio is located in Minneapolis and provides artists with comfortable surroundings amidst some of the newest and most innovative recording gear available.

GB Leighton’s new album will be available for a spring 2007 release. Visit GB Leighton’s website,, for more news regarding their anticipated upcoming release.

For more information, contact Rusty Harmon or Mark Zenow at Murphy to Manteo at 919-859-5333.


- Murphy to Manteo

GB Leighton at the Minnesota Music Cafe
-- Bob Velez

My personal musical tastes would certainly be best characterized as eclectic; I am certain that more than one music store employee would view my purchases as indicative of someone with Multiple Personality Disorder.

It was not uncommon for me, in the days before downloading music was commonplace (a topic that could, in itself, take up an entire issue of The Metropolitan), to arrive at the counter with selections ranging from Ministry to Pink Floyd to Tchaikovsky’s "1812 Overture" (which for all of you audiophiles out there sounds most excellent on a pair of Klipsch Forte II’s).
I’ve received more than one sideways glance from folks tallying up my purchases at the register.

With the plethora of local talent in the various cities I have lived in, attending a live music performance is always enjoyable for me. When the opportunity presented itself to attend the recent GB Leighton concert at the Minnesota Music Café (just down the hill from our St. Paul Campus on the corner of Seventh Street and Payne Avenue, no less), I gladly accepted the assignment to attend and report back to you, my fellow schoolmates, about the musical stylings of one of Minnesota’s favorite sons.

Brian Leighton, a native of Shoreview, Minn., shares his family namesake with the band he fronts. However, that is where his prominence ends.

GB Leighton is a group of accomplished musicians who could arguably be characterized as the "hardest working band in show business" (my apologies for the James Brown reference). The band plays all over the upper-Midwest, and their name is recognized by many who follow the Twin Cities local music scene. Their regular weekly show at Bunker’s Music Bar and Grill on Wednesday nights is a testimony to the extent of their local following and to their staying power.

GB Leighton played the Minnesota Music Café on Sept 22. The venue is an excellent one, and the house was packed with enthusiastic music lovers.

One aspect of the performance that was quite surprising, even before the band took the stage, was the diverse crowd. Fans from seemingly every social stratum were in attendance eagerly awaiting the performance.

The age range of the spectators was striking—from the young to the not-so-young (your humble reporter placing himself in the former group while probably being more realistically associated with the latter), who were all active participants in the show.

The band took the stage at approximately 10 p.m. They opened with a rendition of Bob Dylan’s "All Along the Watchtower," which drenched the spectators with numerous riffs of sonic waves and self-indulgences by the musicians. It was a memorable number that provided the band with ample opportunities for showcasing their individual instrument’s range.

They continued with some new material that was performed with accuracy and ease. Leighton acknowledged that they had just delivered the goods from their new material, which enabled me to reason the seemingly surgical performance for the initial 15 minutes of the show — I say surgical because it appeared to me somewhat over-rehearsed, that there might have been some tentativeness on the part of the band.

That minor criticism certainly does not describe the rest of their first set or any of their late set. The band appeared to have completed their "business" for the evening and began to come into their own by, in essence, merging with the crowd through interaction and becoming free to make the show less of a studio session and more of a live rock ‘n’ roll show with all the accoutrements

I consider myself a discerning music lover and have been critical in the past with new commercial bands that do not contribute anything new to the music experience. However, a live set by a group of outstanding musicians who are having a good time during their performance breathes new life into seemingly routine rock ‘n’ roll.

GB Leighton was certainly up to the task. Their sets were an excellently balanced presentation of original material with a few cover pieces that really knocked my socks off.

Leighton took center stage in a stirring performance of Prince’s “Purple Rain” that was absolutely wonderful—not everyone could pull off a Prince cover in the purple one’s hometown. GB Leighton, however, had that perfect balance of truth and originality. Leighton’s vocals soared, and the music filled the room as the crowd swayed to the lilting meter of the number.

Covering songs is considered by some a bore; but to me, a really good cover explores aspects of the composition that the original artist can even appreciate. When I recognized the riffs emerging as the band took on Velvet Underground’s "Sweet Jane" I was immediately impressed, not only by the performance, but by the selection of a number that might not be recognizable by your average local music lover.

The selection of a song to cover says a lot about the artists performing the - The Metropolitan - Metropolitan State University's student newspaper


Shake Them Ghosts CD 2007

DVD GB Leighton Live at the Minnesota Music Cafe
2006 Moonsong Records 020601

CD GB Leighton Live at the Minnesota Music Cafe
2006 Moonsong Records 070104

This Life 2003 Liquid 8 Records LIQ 12115

It's All Good 2000 Moonsong Records 318324

Acapulco Night 2000 Moonsong Records 122068

Acapulco Night 1999 Moonsong Records

Live From Pickle Park 1998 Moonsong Records 063070

Forever Ago 1997 Oarfin Records Limited Edition 45rpm

Come Alive 1996 Oarfin Records #96352

One time...One Life 1994 Metro Records 2 39402 2



GB Leighton: Born To It

More than 200 shows a year. Jubilant fans who follow him from Minnesota to Mexico. More than 70,000 albums sold. A crushing live-performance DVD. And now even a state-of-the-art nightclub named after one of his songs -- all without the support of a major record label…

Meet GB Leighton, a band named after one of the region’s most incendiary live performers and consistently solid songwriters, Brian Leighton. Through more than a decade and nine studio albums, Leighton and his six-piece band have been tearing up rock clubs, church fundraisers and even a few fan’s living rooms with a slew of songs that connect with the heart and couples singing along out on the dance floor. “A man of the people” is a phrase usually reserved for statesmen and politicians, but for Leighton, whose politics are more conservative and libertarian , it’s a fitting description when you see him in action working a joint, or on his 2006 DVD, Live at the Minnesota Music Café.

Where have we seen this phenomena before? Springsteen in Asbury Park before he lit out for New York and the wider world; Mellencamp back in those anonymous Indiana bars; Hootie and the Blowfish lightin’ up the southern circuit…Leighton delivers that same inescapable rock ‘n’ roll spirit night after night. “If I hadn’t heard a bunch of Bruce’s bootlegs or seen the videos I’d be a much different musician,” he says today. “He’s always been a great songwriter and performer, like a preacher almost who commands an audience. That’s the place I’m coming from. But at the end of the day, I’m just a common guy, a working class kid from a Twin Cities suburb who loves to put on a good show and hopefully write some good songs in between.”

In Acapulco or Pickle Park, connecting with people still privy to a pretty good rock ‘n’ roll thing
Leighton’s countless live gigs have that golden glow of legendary status about them throughout the Midwest. But he’s also done his share of non-conventional gigs at the Minnesota Governor’s Mansion, church festivals, in fan’s living rooms and at a special show in March 2006 for Minnesota National Guard troops who were shipping-off to serve in the Middle East from Camp Shelby in Mississippi. In January 2006 GBL also began the first annual trip – with fans – to Acapulco. More than 120 people joined him and the GB Leighton Band for a week. The group played two poolside shows by day and rocked a local club by night. “In between we hung with the people on the trip, which was surprise to a lot of them: We were right there next to them by the pool with family and friends having a drink and relaxing.” This year he’ll reprise that adventure, playing the Acapulco Hard Rock Café at night, and giving people who love his music another chance to connect in a manageable rock ‘n roll setting that’s still a pretty good thing for a rocker and his audience.

When approached to have a first-class, high-tech nightclub – not far from his house in New Brighton – named after a song on his first album, “Pickle Park,” Leighton was in. Not since Prince opened Glam Slam in downtown Minneapolis has any Minnesota musician opened a club where fans can expect to see a hometown rocker and his band play live and hang out “to catch a Vike’s game and just kick back.” He adds that “‘Pickle Park’s in some ways a lot like the new record – it’s another way to keep fans happy – and to share a space with them,” Leighton notes. “It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time, and when club owners Tom Tomaro and Mike Tupa approached me about the idea, I was all over it. It’s really going to be a way for people to see another side of me, just like Shake Them Ghosts is.”

His tenth album, ‘Ghosts is Leighton’s finest effort to date (SEE CD Backgrounder). Longtime fans wonder if this is the one to break him out nationally. And his new management team, Murphy to Manteo, the same group that launched Hootie, Cowboy Mouth and others, is working on it. But in the meantime, Brian’s doing what he does best, rock the house. People might wonder how a big national audience might shake things up. But one thing’s sure: Brain Leighton was born to it.

“This is the only thing I ever wanted to do. I don’t see stopping or changing it up no matter where it takes me and the band.”