The Billy Gibson Band

The Billy Gibson Band

BandBluesJazz

2006 Blues Music Award nominee - Best New Debut Artist. The heart & soul of a new generation of Memphis blues can be heard on Beale Street at the Rum Boogie Café where The Billy Gibson Band performs. Gibson is widely recognized as one of the world’s greatest harmonica players.

Biography

" If the red-brick cobblestone of Beale St. could speak it would tell of countless artists and their sound deposits and influences they have left. There is no question of the importance of Beale St. in the development of American music or the reverence in which the finest musicians hold it. To be a celebrated artist making a living playing on Beale St. is a mere dream! Billy Gibson is a headliner on Beale…playing three nights a week on the fabled stage of Rum Boogie Café at the corner of Beale and Third...welcoming all noted musicians who come through Memphis to sit in and get a taste of the lore of Beale! Billy Gibson was born in the heart of the blues in Clinton, MS…it’s in his blood! After, high school, Billy moved to Clarksdale where he played with blues guitarist Johnnie Billington and drummer Bobby Little in Billington’s group The Midnighters. From Clarksdale he moved to Memphis and thus began his tenure at what Billy refers to as “Beale Street: The University of The Blues.” It is hard to imagine that one artist could have played with and be influenced directly by so many…a virtual who’s who of legendary musicians. Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside, Kenny Brown, Luther Allison, James Cotton, John Entwistle, Jim Dandy, Calvin Newborn, to name but a few. In fact, while interviewing Billy for this bio he asked if he could think about all those he has played with and email me at a latter time…I think we get the idea! Billy Gibson may be considered a new-comer with the release of The Billy Gibson Band but that is hardly the case. It is better to know Billy instead of knowing about him. So, we asked some pertinent questions for him and these are Billy’s unedited answers…

What Kind of harp do you use?

My favorite is the Hohner Golden Melody. I’ve played other brands and models over the years but the Golden Melody has all of the qualities I need from a professional level instrument.

Who is your hero of the harp?

Pete Pedersen is a hero to me but not just because of his harp playing, which is as good as it gets, but because he was such a kind and giving man. He shared his masterful knowledge of music and the harmonica with anyone who was interested. There was no ego involved, only love and joy for the harmonica and a desire to pass it on to a younger generation. Pete was a true blessing to me and everyone that know him. I’m not only a better harmonica player but a better man as well for my time with him.

Do you play any other instruments?

I play a little piano. I think it’s real important for harmonica players to play piano because with the piano they can hear and see different kinds of chords. The harp can play chords but you have to visualize them in your mind. With the piano it’s real easy to see everything.

Who gave you your first harmonica?

One day, when I was seven years old, I went up to my Mom and asked her to take me to the store and buy me a harmonica. So she took me to Wilson’s Department store and I stood in front of a glass counter and told the saleslady which one I wanted. None of us knew anything about harmonicas, so I guess I picked the one that looked cool and had a cool-looking, red paper box that went with it…My Mom saved it and showed it to me one day years later…a Hohner Marine Band. Thanks Mom!

Who gave you your first lesson?

I was around 15 or 16 years old and I snuck into a club in Jackson, MS with some friends. Sam Myers and Fingers Taylor were playing together that night at the club. That was my first lesson in blues harmonica!...changed my life!!!

What is your favorite harp song?

My grandmother (who just turned 100 year old this year!) always wants to hear “Amazing Grace,” so I love playing those old gospel songs for her.

Do you have a name for your harp?

Some nights the harp just won’t do right and I have been known to call it “$#&&@*^((&&:”@&!!!!!” and then some nights it seems to play itself. It’s those nights I squeeze it tight and whisper sweet things in its ear comb, “Thank you, sweetie.”

If your harmonica could talk what would it say?

“Baby, what we do here stays here…Please don’t kiss and tell.”

Tell us about your relationship with Beale Street and your steady gig at Rum Boogie Café.

I’ve basically grown-up on Beale…definitely in terms of music. The musicians there have always been supportive and helpful to me and the folks that work there are like family. Beale Street is a very unique place, kind of hard to describe really. With so many people coming from all over it turns my Rum Boogie Café gig from a local one into a world stage. I love it because people get a chance to hear some homegrown music and take it back around the world to share with others. As a performer/recording artist I can’t ask for much more than that…Beale is exciting too because you never know who might stop in to say hello or jam with the band. During the Prince tour his drummer, John Blackwell stopped by and turn

Discography

Slow Ride - Daddy Mack Blues Band with special guest Billy Gibson

The Billy Gibson Band – Inside Sounds 2005

Live at Rum Boogie Café – 2005

In a Memphis Tone – Inside Sounds 2004

The Nearness of You – Inside Sounds 2001

Fried Glass Onions: Memphis Meets The Beatles – Inside Sounds 2005

The Art of The Motorcycle: Songs of the Open Road – Inside Sounds 2005

Billy Gibson (Out of Print) – North Magnolia Music Co. 1996

I Smell Smoke – Michael Burks – Alligator 2003
(Producers – Jim Gaines, Bruce Iglauer, Michael Burks)

Soft Place to Fall – Deborah Coleman – Blind Pig 2000

Weekend In Memphis – McCarty-Hite Project – Inside Sounds 2001
(Produced by Richard Hite and Billy Gibson)
Where There’s A Will There’s A Way – David Bowen – Dalabow Records 2000

Keep On Workin’ – Junkyardmen – Inside Sounds 1999
(Producer – Jim Gaines)

Scrapeheap full of Blues – Junkyardmen – Inside Sounds 1998

Goin’ Down South Blues Sampler – Inside Sounds 2001

Problem Solver – Bobby Little – Highland Records 2003
(Produced by Billy Gibson and Bobby Little)

Goin’ Down South Blues Sampler Vol. 2 – Inside Sounds 2004

Straight From The Cyndicate – CYC – Nu Hafi Music 1997
(Produced by Billy Gibson and Jeff Burch)

Robert Allen Parker – Robert Allen Parker 2003

Up Until Now – Kim Richardson 2001

Set List

The Billy Gibson Band provides sets of 30 min., 45 min., 60 min., and 75 min. Standard one 75 - 90 minute set for festivals. 2-75 minute sets for venue performances (depending on arrangements.) A sample of a typical set is as follows:

Down Home
Keep Doin' What Ya Doin'
Home At Last (A.K.A Country Girl)
What Is Love?
Darlin' Please Come Home
Stingin' Stang
Love Everybody
One More Time
Tell It Like It Is

As well as various Blues, Soul, and R&B Classics