Otis Gibbs

Raised in Wannamaker, Indiana, folksinger and songwriter Otis Gibbs' raspy vocals and sharp lyrics have had him compared to Steve Earle, Bob Dylan, and early Tom Waits, but his socially conscious writing style also puts him in a line that reaches back to Woody Guthrie and Peter Seeger. His introduction to performing came when he was four years old and was being babysat by his uncle, who had recently been released from prison and had a drinking problem. The uncle would take Gibbs to a local bar with an upright piano and sit Gibbs up on it, where the child would sing Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams songs to the room. When bar patrons tipped him, Gibbs' uncle would take the money and buy more drinks, a practice that Gibbs would later wryly note was his introduction to how the music business really works. Fiercely independent, Gibbs has self-released seven albums, beginning with 2002's 49th and Melancholy, and following it with 2003's Once I Dreamed of Christmas, 2004's One Day Our Whispers, 2008's Grandpa Walked a Picketline, 2010's Joe Hill's Ashes, 2012's Harder Than Hammered Hell, and 2014's Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth. Utterly unique, yet clearly in a delightfully stubborn American line of literate, politically and socially conscious folk artists, Gibbs deserves a much wider audience for his clear, simple, and cleverly crafted blue-collar songs. ~ Steve Leggett

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