Wednesday, January 30, 2013 Is ALIVE!!!

Howdy all, great news here. The updated website is now LIVE! For anybody interested in how I do my hair, my new music and writing projects, pirate jokes, my Jaminator side-project, or anything else Nate-related, check it out here:

The virtual trolley tour has been replaced with a virtual jukebox, and now you can listen to just about anything I've ever recorded. Sweet! So far the response has been tremendous. Within minutes of going live I received the following feedback:

Amy B-A. says: "Just watched your fashion tips and lapsed into uncontrollable giggles."

Lauren C. says: "This site is the highlight of my day!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Kerry B. says: "I can't wait to read all about The Hair!!!!"

Caitlin R. says: "This is a great website Nate!"

Jessica A-S. says: "LOVE this!"

And my mother, over the phone, said she really enjoyed the site as well. Here's hoping y'all do too! Feel free to leave your feedback and suggestions wherever you deem appropriate.

Before I conclude, I would like to give HUGE thanks to my creative webmaster friend, who is also a new father, Mr. Garet McIntyre! Congratulations on the birth of your first son and thanks a million for your improvements to this here site. Thanks G!

Friday, January 25, 2013

New CD, New Paperback, and a Quick Finland Update

Howdy there Dear Internet Blog Readers,

And chilly greetings from the northernmost metropolitan city in the world. Today I get to make a very special announcement: The Starday Sessions CD that I have been working on will be coming out on Goofin' Records and is now available for Pre-Order (and will be shipped in late February)! This is essentially a record of my favorite songs from my favorite record label performed with some of my favorite musicians (and people!)-- The Barnshakers, Deke Dickerson, Double K, the Hi-Fly Rangers, Wyatt Maxwell, Sean Mencher, Jerry Miller, Lester Peabody, and many more! While the Starday book itself is a form of tribute, I also wanted to pay homage to the music and the many Starday artists who befriended me and contributed to the book and the forthcoming radio documentary. I couldn’t possibly record songs by every contributor on this single album, but included here are loving tributes to my friends Glenn Barber (whom I had the pleasure of backing at the 2007 Green Bay weekender), Rudy “Tutti” Grayzell (whom I will share a stage with at the 2013 Screamin’ Weekender in Spain), Orangie Ray Hubbard (whom I got to play music with in Cincinnati), Rose Lee Maphis (who introduced me to Don Pierce WAY back in the day and has been a friend ever since), Luke Gordon (who contributed time and help with the book), Ralph Stanley (who is a big part of the forthcoming radio documentary), and many others. Starday rockabilly legend Rudy "Tutti" Grayzell even wrote the beautiful liner notes! I’m indebted to Pete Hakonen, the Goofin’ Records label, and everybody who contributed to this project in one way or another. And of course, my thanks also go to each and every person who purchases this album.

To that point, the CD is being released here in Finland where new CDs typically cost 15 euros, which is roughly $20 USD right now. I know that's a little pricier than most people in the States are used to paying for a CD, so I am going to personally cover all of the shipping and the seller's paypal expenses for all pre-orders to the United States. Read: FREE SHIPPING! I've even made an Internet-only downloadable E.P. with the great Jerry Miller (Eilen Jewell, the Spurs, the Coachmen, Jack Smith & the Rockabilly Planet, etc.) which I will send (via email) to everyone in the U.S. who places their order before March 1st. That FREE E.P., Nate Gibson & Jerry Miller - Me & Jerry: Live on WFHB features live songs cut on the air for WFHB last December and has some breathtaking guitar work from Mr. Miller.

To place your Pre-Order, which is essentially to place an order for my admiration, sincere gratitude, and eternal respect, please send $20 via Paypal to: nathandgibson (at) gmail (dot) com. You do not need to have a Paypal account. Instead, simply follow this secure link, enter my email address and the amount of $20, and you can pay with any credit card or via any other method you choose. Once I receive email confirmation, I will send you confirmation of payment and an immediate link to download the Nate Gibson & Jerry Miller EP. The physical CDs of The Starday Sessions will be shipped in late February. If you would like to hear samples of the tracks beforehand, you can visit my BandCamp site at and check out every song!

I would also like to mention that the CD is being released at the same time as the paperback edition of The Starday Story: The House That Country Music Built (University Press of Mississippi). I'm mighty grateful that University Press of Mississippi took a chance on my book and it is very gratifying to know that people continue to read and enjoy the story. If you have been wanting to pick up a copy of the book (Winner of the 2012 Belmont Book Award - Best Book on Country Music and a 2012 ARSC Award of Excellence for Best Research in Record Labels), but were deterred by the $50 price tag, we have good news. The new paperback is currently available for Pre-Order from Amazon for only $30 and with free shipping! Hooray! Link:

OK, that's about all the promotion I've got in me for one day. Hopefully it's not too overwhelming. I love making this stuff. I didn't do a Kickstarter page or any other kind of fundraising beforehand because, honestly, I would have done this stuff anyway. I just hope y'all like listening to it and/or reading it. If so, your support is greatly appreciated and would help me to continue doing what I love.

And in case anyone wants it, here's A Quick Finland Update: Finland is awesome! Cold, yes, Dark, a little, but still great! I've started a new research project about roots music in Finland which is quite fun. I've met some mighty interesting characters and I'm seeing a lot of great live music. I am also working a few hours per week at the Angry Birds company and am practicing my Finnish every day. I'm making music with the Hi-Fly Rangers, working on a full-length release with lots of originals for El Toro Records, playing shows here and there, and getting to see a good chunk of Europe. And of course, all that stuff above. All great stuff. Tomorrow I celebrate my birthday on a weekend cruise to Stockholm. Very exciting, though I will miss being in the States to celebrate my birthday with my Pop, who shares the same birthday as I (and Starday honky-tonker James O'Gwynn) and who turns 86 tomorrow. Go Pop! My best wishes and warm greetings to all!

Rockin' Regards,


New CD Track Listing :

1. Shadow My Baby (G. Barber) with the Hi-Fly Rangers

2. Hot Time In Nashville (J. Maphis) with Deke Dickerson

3. The Woman I Love (K. Murdock) with the Barnshakers

4. How Come You Do Me (Like You Do) (G. Austin, R. Bergere) with Jerry Miller

5. I Gotta Know (W. Perry) with the Grass House Gang feat. Sean Mencher

6. Sweet Love (R. Hubbard) with the Hi-Fly Rangers

7. Baby’s Gone (L. Gordon) with Jerry Miller

8. Where There’s A Will (There’s A Way) (C. Trantham) with the Barnshakers

9. I Don’t Want A Sweetheart (J. Harrison, N. Harrison) with the Hi-Fly Rangers

10. Daisy May (F. Tillman) with Jerry Miller

11. I’d Rather Be Forgotten (E.P. Williams) with the Grass House Gang feat. Sean Mencher

12. Jig-Ga-Lee-Ga (R. Grayzell) with Wyatt Maxwell

13. Down in the Hollow (B. Browning) with the Hi-Fly Rangers

14. Carolina Bound (B. Hodge) with Jerry Miller

15. You All Come (A. Duff) with Deke Dickerson

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

In Memory of Vic Willis 1922-1995

Photo of Vic Willis at the piano in the Starday Sound Studios, circa 1964. Photo from Don Pierce collection.

This here's a post to honor the great John "Vic" Willis, one-third of the Willis Brothers/Oklahoma Wranglers/Drifting Cowboys, who passed away on this day in 1995. The Willis Brothers were a Starday institution: They recorded over 150 tunes of their own for Starday (lots of great cowboy and trucker fare), appeared on many more sessions (see the post below by Don Lewis among many others), were major players in the Starday jingle company (ran by Vic alongside Don Pierce, Little Roy Wiggins, Eddy Arnold, and Charles Mosley) and all of their wives worked in the Starday office. This here's a funny clip from their appearance in the Ron Ormond film, Forty Acre Feud (one of the many Ormond Nashville-era films starring country music stars, financially backed by Don Pierce). Such cool footage, even if it is obviously lipsynched... Enjoy!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My dear friend and mentor Rex Trailer has passed away

Rex Trailer singing 'An Immaculate Confection (The Necco Song)' with Nate Gibson & the Gashouse Gang R-L Jon Johnson, Nate Gibson, Rex Trailer, Tom Long, Jeff Herring. photo by Aimee Busby

I am filled with sadness today to learn that my dear friend Rex Trailer has passed on. To me, Rex was a teacher, a collaborator, a role model, a music mentor, and a true friend. For those of you who didn’t know Rex personally, I’ll share with you a few tidbits and memories.

Rex Trailer (yup, that there is his real name) was born in West Texas. He got into the rodeo business briefly, just long enough to learn some incredible ropin’ and ridin’ tricks (see:, but was convinced by his mentor Gabby Hayes to pursue a career in children’s television. In Philadelphia during the early 1950s he hosted a western themed TV program called Rex Trailer’s Ranch House and often shared the local stages with a young pre-Comets Bill Haley. In 1956 Rex recorded four sides for ABC-Paramount under the direction of Sid Feller, Ray Charles’ longtime collaborator and musical arranger. The most well-known of these tracks was “Hoofbeats,” which became background music during a regular segment on Rex’s new Boston-based TV series Boomtown. To sum up a very important part of his life in a few words, Boomtown aired from 1956-1974, reaching millions of homes across New England, and Rex Trailer became a New England icon. He became a hero to millions of children, specifically to families dealing with mental retardation and muscular dystrophy (as he worked tirelessly to raise money and awareness about these disabilities), to countless sheltered animals throughout Massachusetts, to aspiring actors and cowboys/cowgirls, and to so many more. He was well-known because he was on television, but he was universally loved because he was a sincere, kind, and generous person. And because he could seemingly do it all. He could fly airplanes and helicopters (he flew one of the helicopters during the filming of Steven Spielberg’s JAWS), he could act (if Boomtown wasn’t enough proof, watch him with Winona Ryder in Mermaids), he was a professional cowboy (and his horse Goldrush was always by his side), he was a fantastic musician and vocalist (as evidenced by his admittance into the Massachusetts Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000), he was a trained hypnotist and, quite honestly, the list goes on and on. What caught my attention in 1999, however, was that Rex Trailer was also a teacher at Emerson College.

I met Rex at a bar called the Sugar Shack during Rick Walkers’ (a western clothing outfitter in Boston, where I was then employed) festive Christmas party and Rex was on stage singing some of his catchy original tunes such as “It’s Your Dog,” “Cheer Up Your Corner of the World,” and “Lovin’ You Is Like a Rodeo.” At the time I was a student at Emerson College majoring in poetry and song. After the show, I asked Rex if he would be interested in becoming my songwriting advisor. To my surprise, he said ‘Sure.’ To both of our surprise, the Emerson College powers that be gave us the green light.

My thesis was on country music songwriting and Rex and I met twice a week. We studied various styles of country music songwriting and the goal was to write and record ten original songs. I remember meeting Rex in his office for the first time and wondering what we could both possibly have in common as a jumping off point. During a lull in the conversation I reached into my book pack for snack and pulled out a roll of Necco wafers. To my surprise, Rex also had his own roll with him. We bonded over our mutual love for the chalky confections (specifically the chocolate ones) and that moment sparked one of the deepest friendships I’ve come to know. Rex and I worked together on finishing those ten songs and he even sang two of them with me (see: We called fellow Massachusetts Country Music Hall of Famer Kenny Roberts (Rest In Peace Kenny!) and got him to join us in the studio as well! Rex inspired me to put my first band together and truly gave me my start in the Boston music scene. He invited me to join him at the award ceremony when he was inducted into the Hall and spent much of his moment in the sun introducing me to others as “The next big thing.” The following year he even nominated my record for Best New Country Music Album. During the past 14 years I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Rex and backing him up at many shows and while everybody who came to these shows came to see Rex, he spent so much of his time and energy building me up. In short, like so many people before and after me, Rex took me under his wing and did everything he could to help me succeed (He even handed me the reins of Goldrush and took a picture of us that I used for the cover of my All the Way Home album). Beyond simply professional aspirations, Rex took a sincere interest in me as a person and I greatly value our many talks about life, dogs, horses, country music, personal relationships, Necco wafers, marionettes, and everything else that came up. I can never say enough positive things about Rex and the advice he gave to me and so many others. I know there are many of his students who have gone on to great fame (see: Jay Leno, Steven Wright, Maria Menounos, and a long list of others), but the true number of students and people he helped in his lifetime is uncountable.

Rex, I’m going to miss you! I had a blast performing with you all these years. You instilled within me a lifelong passion for country music. As a recommender during my graduate school application process, you also greatly contributed to my current career path in ethnomusicology. You made my life brighter and I hope I was able to do the same for you. You have left behind a wonderful legacy. Your family, friends, and fans were brought together by your youthful exuberance and we were continually inspired by your actions and positive energy. I’m mighty glad we were able to cross paths here on this Earth and though I know you already know it, “I [Still] Appreciate You."

Your Pal Out On the Trails,


I can't really listen to this right now, but if you'd like to hear a beautiful Rex Trailer tune, here's the flipside of "Hoofbeats," called "Cowboys Don't Cry" (ABC-Paramount 9662, 1956):

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Starday Tribute to Alabama Football: Bama's Tiny Giants - Don Lewis (1966)

Sadly, my team didn't quite pull out the bowl game victory as I had hoped, but that doesn't mean it has to be all doom and gloom... As we are just hours away from the College Football Championship, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on Starday's 1966 tribute to the most dominant team in college football both then and now: Don Lewis - Bama's Tiny Giants. I'm not 100% certain, but it sure sounds like the Willis Brothers, who also backed Hank Williams Sr. on his first recordings, doing the backing vocals here... Enjoy!