The Brothers Osborne was a part of the star-studded lineup of 2019’s Country Thunder (CT) Arizona that took place in Florence, AZ on April 11-14. They have been touring with Dierks Bentley for the last three weeks. And this was the last tour stop for a while. T.J. Osborne mentioned that they saved the best for last.
The road to success has not been an overnight affair for the duo. They signed with EMI Nashville and released an EP in 2014. An EP is often a forerunner to a full-length album. With no hits on the EP, the full-length album did not come out until 2016.
It was well worth the wait because the band has excelled on their recordings and live performance. Lead singer T.J. and guitarist/mandolinist John have hit their stride in music.
AXS was there to experience Brothers Osborne’s live show and here are five reasons to see the band live.
1) The band thrives on creating big moments in their live shows
They preceded Bentley’s headlining set. The reason that is important is both Bentley and Brothers Osborne came to CT after getting an American Country Music Award for Vocal Event of the Year for their collaboration on the song “Burning Man.” Bentley had the Brothers Osborne join him during the fist song of his set to perform “Burning Man.” That performance was the highlight of the night hands down. Both Bentley and T.J. Osborne traded lead vocals on the song while John Osborne gave a searing guitar solo.
There were many magical moments during Brothers Osborne’s set. Brothers Osborne’s took on Steve Earle's "Copperhead Road" made the song their own. The country rock song was a perfect fit for John’s mandolin.
This is a show that is bound to please both the rockers in the crowd as well as the traditional country music lovers.
2) An amazing jam-band nuance in country music
As mentioned, Brothers Osborne band is not only a country traditionalist band. Instead, they are more rock-oriented with touches of the blues, rock, and jazz.
From the time they opened their set with the hard-hitting, muscular sounds of “Drank Like Hank,” the group soon veered off into musical territory that allowed John’s stylish guitar work and T.J.’s robust baritone voice to shine.
T.J. asked, “You guys want to hear some old country music for a little bit?” And he then said, “I hope you said ‘yes,’ because you’re gonna get it either way.”
And with that, they proceeded to stretch out a cover of Willie Nelson’s “Whiskey River” that was reminiscent of the Allman Brothers at their jazziest to John tearing it up on a wavering climax.
John’s Jazzy flavored solo with the “Whiskey River” improvisation may have been too much for the country crowd but still it was as creative as music can come.
One of the traditional standout songs of the set was “Stay A Little Longer”. Its catchy hooks, infectious melody, and mainstream appeal of the song was a perfect example of contemporary country at its best.
3) John Osborne’s guitar sizzles throughout the show
John is the shaggy, long-haired hippy looking dude who knows how to shred the guitar. He doesn't do much in the way of lead singing, but his voice compliments his brother's.
John has established himself a true guitar hero. His approach to the bottleneck guitar solo at the beginning of “Down Home” and “Rum” are righteous.
By the second song, one was very aware that you were in the presence of guitar greatness. His R&B-influenced licks during the single “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)” is jaw-dropping. His outstanding fretwork lights up the stage throughout the set.
4) T.J. Osborne’s live baritone vocals thrill fans
T.J. is the vocalist with the slicked back hair and crisp, clean look. T.J. is a commanding singer with an unusually powerful, vibrant voice. He possesses a wonderfully wounded, baritone lead vocal. He is clearly one of the best country singers out there.
The ballad “I Don’t Remember Me” showcases his voice in the best way. T.J.’s vocal on the nostalgic “21 Summer” is a prime example of his yearning baritone vocals. He could be compared to Merle Haggard.
5) A backing band that knows how to step up and step back at just the right time
Brother John allowed the backing band’s instrumental heft to coexist with his grand guitar playing. During the blame shifting song, “It Ain’t My Fault,” the group’s keyboard player Billy Justineau took a solo that was built upon complex harmonics. Not to be outdone, John followed this up with a jazzy solo of his own, effortlessly peeling off some liquid runs. It’s hard to imagine another current country group with skill enough to pull it off so well.
John passed the spotlight to third guitar player Jason Graumlich during their cover of Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road.” The band is a perfect blend of unparalleled talent and professional musicianship.
T.J. said it best in a recent interview for the Chicago Tribune, “There’s not anything, not a drug or a drink, that can replace the feeling of performing. I love every aspect of this wild circus.” It certainly shows when they are onstage.
For a complete set list, click here.