I’m not a fan of Christmas music. Never have been. For my money, you can set aside The Beach Boys Christmas Album, Ray Charles’ The Spirit of Christmas, throw in a crooner for good measure and toss the rest out of the window. Everything else reeks of crowded malls and drunken relatives.
That was until earlier this week when I received a gift: a tightly wrapped bundle in the form of the anti-Christmas, courtesy of Wanamaker, Indiana native Otis Gibbs. At long last, a man with just enough dry wit and sensibility to dress this holiday down. His 2003 album Once I Dreamed of Christmas sheds light on the holiday’s consumerism, the religious hypocrisy and its bogus spokesman, with enough humor to keep from sounding like a Scrooge.
I had the pleasure of watching Gibbs perform earlier this fall as part of MOKB Presents Songwriters in the Round at White Rabbit Cabaret. Gibbs joined local songsmiths Richard Edwards and Cameron McGill as they traded tunes and moments of emotional earnestness. Gibbs’ renditions of “Caroline” and “Small Town, Saturday Night” were both songs that served as sights to behold.
With Otis, you can safely rely upon a straight story. He wields a sword of honesty that slices through bullshit like pads of butter. For further evidence, check out his phenomenal photography. While the rest of the town is busy stewing over missing out on the holiday’s hottest toy, Gibbs is there to remind us of the drunk in the gutter, the father without a job and the lonely, single mother. “Carl and Mavis,” “Cowboy’s Christmas” and “Jesus on the Couch” are all winners. Stream the album in its entirety here:
Yesterday, it was announced that Gibbs will be included in February’s Super Bowl Village. I am thrilled to show visitors that the Hoosier state is home to deeper thinkers than Johnny Cougar. I can’t wait to see how Otis reacts when given a soap box in the midst of corporate America’s biggest spectacle. Mud will be slung and barbs will be traded. My only hope is that I’ll be standing close enough to bare witness.
Written by Rob Peoni