More than 200 shows a year. Jubilant fans who follow him from Minnesota to Mexico. More than 70,000 albums sold. A crushing live-performance DVD. And now even 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 region’s most incendiary live performers and consistently solid songwriters, Brian Leighton.
Through more than a decade and nine studio albums, Leighton and his six-piece band have been tearing up rock clubs, church fundraisers 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, whose politics are more conservative and libertarian, it’s a fitting description when you see him in action working a joint, or on his 2006 DVD, Live at the Minnesota Music Café. Leighton delivers that inescapable rock ‘n’ roll spirit night after night. “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.” In Acapulco or Pickle Park, connecting with people still privy to a pretty good rock ‘n’ roll thing Leighton’s countless live gigs have that golden glow of legendary status about them throughout the Midwest. But he’s also done his share of non-conventional gigs at the Minnesota Governor’ Mansion, church festivals, in fan’ living rooms and at a special show in March 2006 for Minnesota National Guard troops who were shipping-off to serve in the Middle East from Camp Shelby in Mississippi. In January 2006 GBL also began the first annual trip -with fans- to Acapulco. More than 120 people joined him and the GB Leighton Band for a week. His tenth album, Shake Them Ghosts, is Leighton’s finest effort to date. Longtime fans wonder if this is the one to break him out nationally. But whether or not that happens, Brian’s doing what he does best, rocking the house. “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.”