Daughn Gibson's dark tunes inspired by trucker's life 

click to enlarge Daughn Gibson plays in The City to promote his new album "Me Moan." - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Daughn Gibson plays in The City to promote his new album "Me Moan."

The man born Josh Martin in rural Nazareth, Pa., admits that his adopted folksinging moniker of Daughn Gibson is rather unusual, and even a tad amusing.

"But it was just a nickname that me and some friends had," he says. "We called each other different variations of Don, like D-o-n, D-a-w-n, and then mine was D-a-u-g-h-n, and it just kind of stuck."

But at a burly 6 feet, 5 inches tall, with a booming Darth Vader-deep singing voice on "Me Moan," his spooky sophomore recording for SubPop, the ex-punk rocker rarely fields any snarky questions about it. He's just too intimidating.

But in reality, Gibson, who plays San Francisco this week, has a sharp, deadpan wit, and a journal full of wild yarns from his years driving trucks throughout New England.

There was the key-swinging ghost who haunted his hotel room during a frightening sleep-paralysis episode on an Arkansas run, which inspired "Moan's" funereal "Phantom Rider."

The state trooper's daughter whose boyfriend began pimping her out for their rent in a nearby village, morphed into "The Pisgee Nest." "It's just a sketch of one moment in time that I certainly wouldn't want to be anywhere near," he says.

Even Nazareth itself, Gibson says, "was just cement factories and heroin." He grew up there playing drums for punk outfit Pearls and Brass, and never heard any country music until he started driving trucks.

"But they weren't like 13-speed 18-wheelers or anything, just 40-footers, hauling pallets of paper and office supplies. Although one time I had a hazmat load, this big cauldron of chemicals. I didn't even touch the lid – I knew it would probably scald me to death," he says.

Listening to country and western on the radio kept him sane.

Gibson didn't discover classic trucker singers like Red Sovine; it was newer, tamer artists like Toby Keith and Rascal Flatts.

"You can't help it – you kind of fall in love with the first impression of something," says the singer, who started composing his own Appalachian murder ballads on laptop, sculpting his 2012 "All Hell" indie debut in the process.

"I was hearing songs about being a stay-at-home dad, with 'chewing gum in the baby's hair,' and that stuff was outrageous to me. And absurd. Then other songs would just tear your heart out and swallow it."

Gibson was hoping for an "Office Space"-grand finale to his trucking firm job, once he signed with SubPop last year. "But it was anti-climactic," he says. "They asked for my asked for my daily list of drivers, and I said, 'Oh, this list? I'll get right on it!' Then I just continued surfing the Internet..."

Daughn Gibson

Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday

Tickets: $12

Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.ticketfly.com

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Tom Lanham

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