Otis really got into the spirit of the site and suggested our first tracking shot video. We did our best to keep up with him and we hope that this session captures the spontaneity of the performance and sums up Otis’ travelling, folk, Americana sound. What a lovely man!
Otis GibbsMonday, August 30th, 2010, 12:45 am
Otis started working when he was in high school. He stacked concrete blocks, flipped burgers, drove an ice cream truck, pumped gas, and did countless other crummy jobs. After discovering writers like Edward Abbey, Henry Miller and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, he started questioning what he was doing with his life. He was tired of working jobs that didn’t stimulate, or interest him in the least. So, in his own words, he decided to just “drop out.” Over the next four years, Gibbs earned and lived off less than $3,000 a year and had never been happier. He got rid of his car and shared apartments with artists, musicians and radicals (often living with 5 to 10 people). He also took advantage of the free time and wrote hundreds of songs.
The next few years were spent touring and releasing four indie records. The most notable being “49th and Melancholy,” (a stripped-down acoustic record, that was recorded to two-track reel-to-reel in a friend’s laundry room). There was also “Once I Dreamed of Christmas,” a collection of songs he’d written “for people who don’t like Christmas.”
In 2004, his critically acclaimed, “One Day Our Whispers” was released. It was an unpopular time to speak truth to power, but the album’s optimism and anti-war undertones resonated deeply with people who felt uncomfortable with the direction America was heading. Though songs like “I Wanna Change It,” “Thirty-three” and “Ours is the Time” have been described as protest songs, Otis prefers to call them “love songs for young radicals.” “The Peoples Day” was later included in a Wall Street Journal list compiled by Billy Bragg of the “Top Five Songs with Something to Say.” This placed Gibbs in the company of Bob Dylan, The Clash, Sam Cooke, and Chuck Berry.