The Blues Orphans: Rock, polka, punk, bluegrass and just about everything else

By: Tim Newby

Band: The Blues Orphans (Official Webpage)

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Members:  Bob Gabig (guitar/vocals), Andy Gabig (harmonica), Mark Custer (cornet), Ian Gordon (trumpet), Dr. Nelson Harrison (trombone), Dave Yoho (drums), Dave Erny (bass), Hill Jordan (trombone)

Sounds Like:  A drunken parade down main street with all your best friends that is being led by the funniest guy around.

For Fans Of:  Leftover Salmon, David Peel & the Lower East Side, Captain Beefheart

Bio:  Started as duo in 1974 with brothers Bob and Andy Gabig, the pair played together for the next decade before deciding to start a full band in 1983 and taking on the name The Blues Orphans.  Since then, the band’s lineup has always been in constant motion, growing and shrinking over the years.  Sometimes having horns, sometimes not, but at the center was always Bob with his enigmatic presence, and his brother Andy.   The Blues Orphans sound is blues based and blends rock, polka, punk, bluegrass and just about everything else, while being laced with the sharp, humor of Bob’s lyrics.  Their shows are  an unpredictable blur of excitement.  Bob may start playing some weird lick or guitar riff, leaving the band unsure of what song he is going to begin, forcing them to try to follow his unpredictable lead.  This unpredictably has made Blue Orphan’s shows a swirl of energy where the crowd may suddenly break into a giant samba line parading around the venue.  Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman, has been a fan of The Blues Orphans since his days in high school in nearby Carnegie, Pennsylvania and has covered a number of the band’s songs live (and even included “Unplug that Telephone on Salmon’s 2002 album Live) says, “My real hero is Bob Gabing.  He writes hysterical anthems that have inspired me for years.”

Albums:  Neighborhood Beat (1997), Schism’n Blues (2003), Corn Creek Travesty (2005), Root Rot (2007), Hystericana (2013)

Key Tracks:


What They Do Live: