Joel Gibson Jr. got his first guitar when was 17. It was in 2017 that he made the leap and started his musical career as a country rock artist.
“It took me a really long time to get the confidence to get out there and do it,” he said. “And it really was my wife and her friend that ultimately went, you know, the only way you’re going to find out is to go out and do it — kind of a put up or shut up kind of thing.”
Gibson was well aware that people online and on social media can be “brutal,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that,” he said. “It was really taking a leap.” Thankfully, the response was mostly positive, he said.
As his music career started picking up steam, Gibson said he struggled to put together a full band.
“I didn’t really know any other players that weren’t already in a band,” he said. “And then it was a matter of getting in and recording our music.”
Although streaming dominates the music landscape, people still love CDS, particularly if it’s to support a live performer, Gibson said. He put out his first album, an acoustic EP called “Here up North,” in 2017 because people kept encouraging him to record one.
Gibson started out mostly covering other artists’ songs, but as he continued playing, he began writing more of his own music. He continues to do a mix of covers and originals at his shows, but finds that his fans particularly appreciate the latter.
“We reach a pretty broad audience just by the covers, and then we kind of mix in our original music, which tends to get the best feedback,” he said. “People are like, ‘You did awesome on the covers, but we really like your original music. You need to play more of that.’”
Gibson describes his music as country rock, and although the Pacific Northwest is better known for grunge and rock than country, he says there’s an underappreciated appetite for country music here.
“From a tour standpoint, when country acts come here, they sell out just like any other act, if not faster in some cases,” he said. “Sometimes they play two nights. People love country music and I’ve always thought it’s because it’s universal. I think it speaks to the average person. … There’s plenty of country fans north of the Mason-Dixon.”
Even so, Gibson said he prides himself on winning over people who aren’t normally country music fans.
“The biggest compliment and/or feedback we get is, ‘I hate country music, but I like you. I love your show,’” he said. “And a lot of times that could be a spouse, like the girlfriend or the wife dragged the guy out, ‘She made me come to this, she said I’d like it and I didn’t think I would, but I love it.’”
Gibson has put in a lot of work to get where he is, but he doesn’t intend to slow down any time soon.
“I personally take a lot of pride in going out and putting in the work,” he said. “I like to say I won’t be outworked. Because there’s guys doing it full-time that don’t play as many shows as me. So when we’re at the point where we shift gears and I start doing this full time, we’re just going to go that much harder.”
Joel Gibson Jr.
Learn more about Joel Gibson Jr. on his website.
Catch Joel Gibson Jr. at one of his upcoming shows: