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. (Allmusic.com, Steve Leggett)
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.
He would take me down to this little honky-tonk saloon. He would sit me on top of the piano, and I would sing Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams songs while he accompanied me. The drunks in the bar would give me tip money to play whatever their request might be, and then my uncle would take that money and get drunk on it. That’s when I first learned how the music industry actually works. (“Man, can this singer tell a story“, Whitney Matheson)
Fiercely independent, Gibbs has self-released eight 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, 2014’s Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth, and 2016’s Mount Renraw. (Allmusic.com, Steve Leggett)
Gibbs has recorded more than 100 podcasts under the title “Thanks for Giving a Damn” that consist of conversational interviews with musicians. Podcasts have included conversations with Mando Saenz, Ramsay Midwood, Chris Shiflett (Foo Fighters), Marshall Crenshaw, Jim White, Dilbert McClinton, and Amy Lashley. (Wikipedia)
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. (Allmusic.com, Steve Leggett)