Pedigrees are very telling instruments aren't they? At times a pedigree can be chock full of unimportant sources that look like simple filler with nothing more than blah, blah, blah, blah, blah gushing through the ink on the paper that they cover. When a pedigree exudes that kind of emotion it becomes quick work to discredit the pedigree in rather quick fashion. Yes at times they can seem to be just dripping with droll moments in their history that are mere chaff upon the threshing floor but at times there are pedigrees that stand out and should be noticed. Right?
What is a pedigree when it pertains to music? Well, think about it this way Mozart, and Beethoven have the pedigree, I think you get that automatically when you have influenced thousands upon thousands of musicians and history BUT, in current terms of a pedigree look no further than Clem Burke. Burke is one of those artists that has everything that an influential artist should have to secure a really important, viable lineage in rock history.
Burke, the drummer from New Jersey started his route to rock history after being selected by Debbie Harry when she founded Blondie in 1974. Burke has been a member for the entire life of the band and has played drums on all ten albums. Unfortunately or is it fortunately, that does not make a pedigree. In the forty-two years since that first Blondie album, Burke has been part and parcel to some of the most incredible bands ever. I'm not kidding. During his entire tenure with Blondie and during the fifteen years the band was actually broken up Burke was in bands like: The Romantics, Pete Townshend (solo band), Bob Dylan, Eurythmics, Dramarama, the Fleshtones, Iggy Pop, and Joan Jett. Wait there is more. Chequered Past (with Sex Pistols founding member Steve Jones), a little band called the Ramones (for a couple of shows as Elvis Ramone), the Ramones (AGAIN for the "Ramones Beat on Cancer"), Slinky Vagabond (consisting of David Bowie, Earl Slick, Glen Matlock, Keanan Duffty), Magic Christian and Hugh Cornwell. Oh, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Blondie in 2006. Ladies and gentlemen that is a proper pedigree.
Its a real treat to see a performer with that kind of power behind their name and talent isn't it? In the world of music where "superstars" rely on "auto-tune," synthesizers, and at times no band at all, a guy like Burke is the target and not the norm. There are other performers in this world that have that type of power behind there name look at the band KISS. Not only does this band still fill stadiums, it has "rock anthems" in their library of work, countless gold and platinum albums, larger than life characters that people around the entire PLANET can recognize, that too would constitute a pedigree. There are so many other bands that one could mention but can a performer that hasn't been in music for 30 - 40 years have a pedigree? Why yes they can thank you kindly.
At a time when so many "classic" bands have reemerged from their time in the "era of hair metal" there are performers that have quite successfully jump-started their careers that may have ended 25 years ago, and quite a few younger performers have joined in with them. As an example look at the performer Brandon Gibbs. Gibbs is an anomaly in the music world because not only is he one heck of a performer, he has found success with some of those "classic" bands and performers but also as a solo performer. I have seen Gibbs live at least ten times in various iterations of bands but he is such a great performer and he has quite a pedigree.
The first time I saw Gibbs at the Mississippi Moon Bar he was in a band called "Cheap Thrill," a band that consisted of Gibbs, Eric Brittingham (Cinderella), Jeff LeBar (Cinderella) and Cheney Brannon (Collective Soul). I have seen Gibbs perform with John Corabi (Motley Crue, Union, ESP, Brides of Destruction, Ratt), Joel Kosche (Collective Soul), Tracii Guns (Guns N' Roses, L.A. Guns, Brides of Destruction), Rikki Rockett (Poison), and Sal Giancarelli (Staind). Gibbs has performed with Troy Patrick Farrell (Gilby Clarke, White Lion) and Sean McNabb (Dokken, Lynch Mob, Great White, XYZ) and he has performed with the band Poison as lead vocalist so you can add C.C. DeVille and Bobby Dall to the list. He has been a member of Cheap Thrill, Devil City Angels, Gibbs Brothers Band and the Brandon Gibbs Band as well. If you will think about those performers and associated bands for a moment, its actually pretty scary.
That makes a pedigree wouldn't you agree? Gibbs is such a performer that it is an experience to see him live. How often does a person from a small town get to perform with that much firepower behind him? The number of records sold and the innumerate number of times you have heard those bands and associated performers on the radio or live in concert is mind blowing. I think its pretty telling how well received Gibbs is, all of the shows I have been to have been just jam-packed so much that you should get there early or you are definitely standing. When we traveled to Rascals Live in Moline, Illinois on April 29th, 2016 we got there early to avoid having to stand but at Rascals there isn't a bad place to stand or sit to begin with.
As we crossed over to the other side (no we weren't dead) of Rascals Live the venue began to fill up quickly and as I sat there scratching away at my notes I couldn't believe my ears or my eyes. While the Brandon Gibbs Band was opening for Great White that evening the buzz was really about Gibbs. It was really fun to see actually because the number of people that were there really seemed like they were there for just him. That is a big deal if I think about it because Great White is a classic rock band, firmly entrenched in the fabric of that era and to be larger than a band of that caliber is impressive. Gibbs took the reins in a way that is befitting of a headliner probably because of those who he has performed with and where on many lineups.
When the Brandon Gibbs Band took the stage the energy was palpable, and I think that through the fans at Rascals Live it became a real whirlwind. Brandon has been in many bands in his history as I mentioned but probably one of the bands he would tell you is the band he was in with his twin brother Brent. The last few times of seeing Brandon perform Brent has been his drummer and that April night he was once again. Brent Gibbs is a full-time police officer but the thing that is so interesting is that he is a killer drummer. Although the influences for Brandon are pretty easy to understand and see, Brent would be a little more difficult. The interesting thing was the feeling of a '70's rock feel he had but the way Brent hits those drums he has there is a serious '80's - '90's Alice In Chains power behind every strike and it was apparent in a well placed drum solo. Officer Gibbs could easily hang up his uniform and take on drumming for any band that was or is today, he is great!
Drums and bass go hand in hand and it seems that every time I write about a band the two are stacked one after the other and I think the reason is that they are the backbone. Without the bass and drums it becomes Jerry Garcia singing "Whiskey in the Jar." That's not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination but because of the symbiotic relationship between Brent Gibbs and Dave Schwarm on bass. Schwarm doesn't have that prototypical look of a bass player, he doesn't look like Nikki Sixx but he can play that bass with authority. While Schwarm looks the part of a teacher or an accountant I was blown away by his skills. The set Brandon performs has some intensive rock songs from Devil City Angels and Poison so it takes a pretty great performer to do it justice and Schwarm does.
While I live in a small town in the Northwest corner of the State of Illinois with just about 3200 people in it we don't know every person in the town. Small town life isn't what Andy Griffith made it to look like and one looks to look no further than to Chad Robbins to understand that. Robbins lives in the same town that I do yet I have never met the man and he plays guitar in the Brandon Gibbs Band. I think that's kind of cool actually because it makes me want to meet more of my neighbors but its sad also because Robbins is one heck of a guitar player, I wish I knew about him sooner. Robbins is subdued on stage but man the guy can play like a rock star. He has that demeanor on stage that his so professional he almost makes it look effortless. He has this vibe about him when he performs, its like he has an alternative / college radio sense about him. I think it hearkens back to the days of performers like Frank Zappa and Phish with a firm dash of punk rock. Robbins can't be pigeon-holed like that however, there is a serious depth to his skills, he is absolutely incredible!
The basis of any band that isn't Mannheim Steamroller is killer vocals and Brandon Gibbs is one of the best vocalists in music today. He has a depth and presence on stage that is really unrivaled by many contemporaries and should be looked it as such. I've been trying to think of who to compare Gibbs to and its difficult really. Gibbs has a depth (I know I just said that but keep reading) that has this warm tone that really can't be described. I think its a soulful voice, reminiscent of Tom Keifer but smoother not as raspy however, for as he sings he can grasp the vocals in such a way that is befitting the lyrics. As an example one of the songs Gibbs sang that night was an iconic song by the band Poison called "Every Rose Has It's Thorn." The vocals of Gibbs are different than those of Poison front man Bret Michaels but inside the vocals is that sense of urgency that isn't in the original song, its that level that Gibbs performs. Before people go medieval on me I'm not inferring that Gibbs is better than Michaels, its just in the way he sings.
Gibbs is an incredible singer, totally gifted guitar player (one of the best that is performing today) but he is the consummate front man. He really controls the crowd, he elicits the responses that make a performance fun not only for the crowd but also the band itself. What makes the whole Brandon Gibbs Band experience fun is that regardless of it being your first time seeing the band or the fiftieth, Gibbs will leave you wanting more.
The world of music is rife with bands that have gimmicks and often we the fans, are the reason those bands do that. From the leather bondage gear worn by Judas Priest, to the foam costumes worn by Gwar music fans love a gimmick. If you have ever attended a KISS concert you know what I mean, there are dozens of people that are dressed like their favorite KISS member and they are rabid about it. Even "grunge" fans fall prey to a "standard uniform" with flannel shirts and short, messy hair but to become popular in music you don't need a gimmick. As I have traveled venue to venue I have learned one thing great musicians flock to other great musicians and that leads to a pedigree, Brandon Gibbs has that pedigree.
What Gibbs has done his entire career is find like musicians so he can entertain his fans at the highest possible level. When I saw the Brandon Gibbs Band it became blatantly obvious that Gibbs has surrounded himself with great musicians, not necessarily household names, but great musicians. This band has nothing but mad skills, and watching them perform it is obvious. Of everything that can be said of that night in late April at Rascals Live is that this band wanted to just have fun while making it look effortless. That is the final sign of a great pedigree. Job well done gentlemen!
For more information about Brandon Gibbs visit his WEBSITE or his Facebook PAGE.