Steve Gibson, the first musical director for the Grand Ole Opry and a guitarist heard on more than 14,000 country recordings, offers insight into the life of a studio musician with fellow guitarist and longtime friend Mike Noble. Part of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Musician Spotlight series, the program was recorded on March 19, 2017.
Illinois native Gibson received his musical education from his father and credits his parents for supporting him as he began to play in bars and clubs around the area. He moved to Nashville at age nineteen, in 1972. He soon befriended Mike Noble and other local talents including Dave Loggins, Townes Van Zandt, and Guy Clark.
During the program, Steve Gibson and Mike Noble talk about Nashville’s musical landscape in the 1970s, the diversity of demo sessions, and the expectation of a studio musician “to play the right thing at the right moment and then be quiet,” as Gibson says.
Noble remembers going on tour with Loggins, while Gibson fondly recalls his time spent working with country legend Lynn Anderson and her husband, Glenn Sutton. Later in the program Gibson reminisces about playing on the final sessions held at Owen and Harold Bradley’s famed Quonset Hut Studio on Music Row, cutting “Wild and Blue” and “Swingin’” with John Anderson. In addition, he shares his memories of working with George Strait in Key West, Florida, recording tracks for Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA,” and using the Nashville Number System to quickly determine the key in which to play.
Early in the program, Gibson says, “Let me tell you what I’m not. I’m not a singer. I’m not a songwriter. I’m not a soloist. I’m a guy who has always loved to live below the spotlight, in the background, which is why I chose from a very young age to want to pursue a career as a studio musician.”
The set list includes “Alabama Jubilee,” Dave Loggins’s “Please Come to Boston” (the first hit Gibson played on), and Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed’s “Serenade to Summertime.”
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