In search of an honest experience

Otis Gibbs is a man in search of an honest experience. Gibbs is often referred to as a folk artist, but that is a simplistic way to describe a man who has planted over 7,000 trees, slept in hobo jungles, walked with nomadic shepherds in Romania, was a fifth grade yo-yo champion and once wrestled a bear (and lost).

Otis Gibbs is a man in search of an honest experience. Gibbs is often referred to as a folk artist, but that is a simplistic way to describe a man who has planted over 7,000 trees, slept in hobo jungles, walked with nomadic shepherds in Romania, was a fifth grade yo-yo champion and once wrestled a bear (and lost).

Otis has played countless, theatres, festivals, bars and house concerts and has managed to carve out a living, while remaining happily independent. Much of his work concentrates on the world ignored by pop culture. Sometimes forgotten, obsolete, or simply marginalized, it is a world that doesn’t fit into a twenty-second sound bite, or talking point. Otis has spent the last fifteen years traveling across America and abroad documenting this world, and has a story to share about each stop along the way.

Harder Than Hammered Hell, is Otis Gibbs’ sixth album. It’s also the fourth release by Wanamaker Recording Company, the East Nashville based independent label he started in 2008 with long time partner Amy Lashley. The album title was inspired by experiences Otis had when he worked as a tree-planter in Indiana. Much of what he learned came from a seventy-year-old friend/co-worker. The man would describe ground that is too hard to dig as, “harder than hammered hell.” He would also use the phrase when referring to a difficult job, or a particularly tough person. Otis found it a fitting metaphor for the difficulties of leading a creative life.

The album features performances by Thomm Jutz on guitar, Mark Fain on bass, Paul Griffith on drums and Amy Lashley on vocals. Gibbs, who has played at the Rhythm and Roots Festival will perform in Cleeres on June 29.