It’s shaping up to be a killer summer for one of Minnesota’s most loved rock bands and its front man, GB Leighton (www.gbleighton.com). Led by Brian Leighton Glodek, the band is not only releasing a new CD with a renowned producer Don Dixon (REM, Smithereens, Chris Stamey), special guest musicians like superstar drummer Kenny Aronoff (Dylan, Rod Stewart, et al.) and Nashville songwriters such as Liz Rose, Clay Mills, Rachel Thibodeau and others, but the group’s also getting a nightclub in the north Metro named after it called GB Leighton’s Pickle Park. Not since Prince opened Glam Slam has any 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 and just kick back.” But then, Brian Leighton is not just any musician.
With more than 70,000 records sold on indie labels, and legions of fans across the country, Leighton is in the right place for a national break out with the new album Shake Them Ghosts (See Album Backgrounder). The album will be showcased on June 30 during the second night of Pickle Park’s Grand Opening (it also happens to be Leighton’s birthday). Located at 7820 University Ave, Fridley (763.786.1515) and www.gbleightonspicklepark.com, the club’s name comes from a song from GBL’s first album in 1994. According to Brian, “a Pickle Park” is really truck driver slang for a truck stop.”
“Pickle Park’s in some ways a lot like the new record – it’s another way to keep fans happy – and to share a space with them,” Leighton notes. “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. It’s really going to be a way for people to see another side of me, just like Shake Them Ghosts is.”
“We’ve always liked what GB Leighton does and his fans are some of the most loyal rock fans you’ll find anywhere,” says Pickle Park co-owner Tomaro, who also owns Babe’s in Lakeville and Manhattan’s in downtown Minneapolis with Tupa. “Fans can expect to see the band at the club on special nights like New Year’s Eve and other special occasions. With 11,400 sq. ft. of space, a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system, 16 50-inch plasma TVs, four 120-inch screen projectors, elevated booths, and cool décor like the 32-foot replica of Brian’s guitar over the main bar – plus years of GBL memorabilia -- we think this will be one of the bigger nightclub draws in the Twin Cities. There’s a lot people talking about it and we’re personally very excited to be part of it.”
“GB Leighton is a genuine independent artist who continues to sell records without a national record deal or distribution at a time when artists are being dropped by big labels,” notes Rusty Harmon at MTM Management in Raleigh, North Carolina, which handles GBL and has worked with Hootie and the Blowfish, Jason Michael Carroll, Cowboy Mouth and others. “Brian and the band are to be admired for what they’ve been able to do by NOT being signed. And in this day of declining CD sales, shrinking record companies and the digital download model of music distribution, he has maintained a level of CD sales, live performance demand, and compensation that would be the envy- if not an inspiration- to many so called ‘regional bands.’ His tenacity, vocation, talent and commitment to his art and business approach -- keep releasing records and keep playing to his fans -- has made him a true indie artist.”
In addition to selling CD copies of the new album and having a club named after him, Leighton is one of the first to embrace a new digital technology from a company called Disc Revolt. Fans can purchase a Disc Revolt card at a live performance, then download the entire album when they get home. The Disc Revolt card is credit-card sized, with the album artwork on the front and the download code on the back.
Shake Them Ghosts is also going to keep longtime and new fans buzzing. A rich and soulful collection, the new CD features 12 songs penned in the poignant and passionate GB Leighton style that has inspired music writers and regulars over the years to compare Leighton to Springsteen and Mellencamp. But Shake Them Ghosts is decidedly all GBL, packed with an inner intensity and a graceful maturity in the songwriting, singing and playing that is unmistakably Brian Leighton. From the retro-soul turns of “Don’t Let Go” to a rousing sing-along “Close Enough for Me” and a straight rock ‘n roll vamp called “Twisted,” Leighton and his band prove to be the standard bearers of readily accessible rock tunes and soulful ballads that effortlessly blend country, rock, funk and roadhouse music.
With Don Dixon at the board, Ghosts gets a righteous, lived-in feeling that’s part barroom experience and part savvy studio session. There’s a lot to relish in the mix, while Leighton’s collaborative songwriting (with a Nashville posse that includes songsmiths who have written for George Strait, Reba McIntire, Marina McBride, Bonnie Raitt and others) yields an abundance of radio-friendly rock tunes and ballads. Recorded at Minneapolis’ Winterland Studios – and his parents home (!) – GB Leighton’s new album is bound to scare up a whole new wave of fans with a collection of memorable songs and performances that no one will be able to shake for a very long time.
For a schedule of GB Leighton performances visit:
For more on the new nightclub visit: