More than 200 shows a year. Jubilant fans who follow him from Minnesota to Mexico. More than 70,000 albums sold. A new release “Get Up” and a state-of-the-art nightclub named after one of his songs -- all without the support of a major record label…
Meet GB Leighton, a band named after one of the regions’ most incendiary live performers and consistently solid songwriters, Brian Leighton. Through more than a decade and eleven studio albums, Leighton and his six piece band have been tearing up rock clubs, festivals and even a few fan’s living rooms with a slew of songs that connect with the heart and couples singing along out on the dance floor. “A man of the people” is a phrase usually reserved for statesmen and politicians, but for Leighton, it’s a fitting description when you see him in action working a crowd.
Where have we seen this phenomena before? Springsteen in Asbury Park before he lit out for New York and the wider world; Mellencamp back in those anonymous Indiana bars; Hootie and the Blowfish lightin’ up the southern circuit…Leighton delivers that same inescapable rock ‘n’ roll spirit night after night. “If I hadn’t heard a bunch of Bruce’s bootlegs or seen the videos I’d be a much different musician,” he says today. “He’s always been a great songwriter and performer, like a preacher almost who commands an audience. That’s the place I’m coming from. But at the end of the day, I’m just a common guy, a working class kid from a Twin Cities suburb who loves to put on a good show and hopefully write some good songs in between.”
When approached to have a first-class, high-tech nightclub – not far from his house in New Brighton - named after a song his first album, “Pickle Park”, Leighton was in. Not since Prince opened Glam Slam in downtown Minneapolis has any Minnesota musician opened a club where fans can expect to see a hometown rocker and his band play live and hang out “to catch a Vike’s game or just kick back”. He adds, “It’s another way to keep fans happy and to share a space with them. It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time and when club owners Tom Tomaro and Mike Tupa approached me about the idea, I was all over it.”
Leighton makes his national country debut with “Get Up”, his eleventh album. For Leighton, who was also recently honored by Billboard.com as a Top 10 Country Artist to Watch in 2014 as well, this project is something his fans of all ages and interests can enjoy. Leighton’s music has clearly left a lasting impression in the Midwest as fans have inked themselves with his lyrics.
“This is the only thing I ever wanted to do. I don’t see stopping or changing it up no matter where it takes me and the band.”
photo credit: Carey Lundberg