Despite recording fairly prolifically (36 sides cut for Mercury between 1946 and 1949) in the years immediately following World War II, Art Gibson is not widely remembered these days among the fans of vintage country music. Among hard-core collectors of the music of the 1940s-50s, however, he is highly revered, his recordings ardently collected , and celebrated as one of the most individual and infectious honky-tonk performers of the era. He’s cut mostly for Mercury (1946-49), and two single sessions later, one for the small Replica label in 1954, the other for Sunny during the 60s.
The high quality of his output aside, it isn’t surprising that Gibson is not better remembered these days for he kept a surprisingly low profile for most of his career. Other than a mid-40s photograph in the music mag The Mountain Broadcast and Prairie recorder, and a handful of very brief mentions in other music press of the era, he seems to have mostly operated under the radar, not courting much publicity, playing clubs and letting his music speak for itself. This low-key approach accounts, at least in part, for the fact that he didn’t become a bigger star, as it has proved a frustrating roadblock for any researcher hoping to build a fuller picture of his activities in his recording heyday and beyond. Much about Art Gibson’s career remains a mystery, and internet is mute about him. What is certain, however, is that he was a fine honky-tonk singer and songwriter, and that he left a compelling recorded legacy that deserves to be more widely heard. (suite…)