I’d been hearing about this album for a while before I was actually able to get my hands on it. Knowing that the album had been available overseas for a month plus before arriving here in the states, I was pretty excited about getting it by the time it was available on Jan. 20. While Grandpa Walked A Picket Line is Otis’s fifth album, it’s my first exposure to the man from Wanamaker, Indiana. I was totally loving his weathered vocals from the moment he started singing, but it was the song “Preacher Steve” that sealed the deal for me. It wasn’t 30 seconds into that song when I was adding it to my “need to write about this” list, and by the time “Long Black Thunder” came through the speakers Mr. Gibbs had already earned himself a new fan.
Following the path that the Drive-By Trucker’s have forged, Otis writes of the normal man’s America, or as he puts it on his website “of an America that you don’t see on the evening news, but it is the America most of us see at our doorsteps.” It’s an America Otis has come to know honestly. Shunning the 9-5 life most of us begrudgingly suffer through, Otis has spent years of his life living on as little as $3000 per year. However, his strife (if you could call it that) is our gain, as it’s resulted in stacks of songs born of honest experience with the real blood of this country. Fuck, maybe that’s all hyperbole, I dunno. I do know this though, Grandpa Walked A Picket Line is most definitely Essential Listening. And while we’re flirting with hyperbole, lemme say that if Todd Snider and Otis Gibbs could make a baby it would be the Woody Guthrie, Hunter S. Thompson and the Jack Kerouac of it’s generation…you know, if we’re gonna get hyperbolic about it.