For Brothers Osborne, touring represents more than just the music they perform onstage under venue lights – it's also an opportunity for them to play in the most unexpected of settings. During a run through Texas, that meant sitting on a curb in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas to strip down the Pawn Shop album track "Down Home." The Grammy-nominated duo filmed a video of the busking performance, which premieres today on Rolling Stone Country.
Singer TJ Osborne, who makes up the band with his guitar-virtuoso sibling John Osborne, says the impromptu jam sessions – including a backstage take on Bob Wills' "San Antonio Rose" in Houston last year – validate both their musicianship and their commitment to the country genre.
"When you play acoustic, you can't hide behind anything. It's really the thing that separates the men from the boys," says TJ. "We grew up loving and revering country music. That's why we wanted to do the Western swing bits. We're not calling ourselves country music just so we can find a genre to put our shitty pop music in."
"Down Home," and this bare-bones version in particular, represents the Osbornes' take on country music: frequently gritty and bluesy, always soulful.
"Every country or roots-rock band has a song about where they come from," says John of "Down Home." We wanted to have that swampiness that comes along with those types of songs."
On October 13th, Brothers Osborne will return to the road on their headlining Dirt Rich Tour, featuring the band Lanco and singer-songwriter (and John's wife) Lucie Silvas. The duo has also been writing intensely for their next album and are looking ahead to the CMA Awards on November 2nd, where they're up for Vocal Duo of the Year and New Artist of the Year.
"It has been a slow climb," says TJ. "I look back to the beginning of 2015, and I'm like, 'We've come a long way from then.' Just the beginning of this year, we had our first Number One, our album was released, and our Grammy nomination. This year has been a huge one for us."
Which means they likely don't need to busk for tips anytime soon. But good luck getting either of the siblings, who paid tribute to their meager Maryland childhoods in their single "Rum," to admit it.
"I genuinely don't have the ability to do anything but play music, so there is always the possibility of actually ending up on a street corner busking," says John, laughing. "I'm only about three steps away from that now."