If the Ryman Auditorium was capable of transforming into a dancehall, like the nearby Schermerhorn Symphony Center, those pews would have been long gone during country duo Brothers Osborne‘s three-night residency, where they held court each evening at the hallowed venue on Feb. 13, 15 and 16.
Evident in lyrics like Filling a dance floor is something I live for, the finale evening (Feb. 16) of their sold-out residency welcomed traditional country music guest Lee Ann Womack for the first live performance of that debut Bros album cut, “Loving Me Back.”
Two-step rompers urged the lively crowd to their feet without any place to shuffle. Covers of Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road” saw lead singer, baritone brother TJ swinging his hips like a country Elvis, while an accordion accompanied from behind.
But honky tonk vibes aren’t the only draw for the brothers’ sound. Older brother John’s guitar slinging is easy to overlook unless he steps into the spotlight. Not for lack of quality, in fact the complete opposite—an ace guitarist can’t just be measured by performances perched atop road case pedestals, though he had a few during the night. However, John Osborne supports the overall effect of the Brothers Osborne with accouterment guitar trills unmatched by the majority of major label country road warriors today.
Where other bands can’t, the Brothers Osborne surge forward into rarefied air on familiar tunes, remade for the road, like the brilliant “21 Summer.” The mellow performance was abridged and stripped down, punctuated by crystalized beams pouring from the lit walls behind the duo. It wasn’t until midway through the set when John’s guitar mastery stepped into those bright lights, as he took center stage for “Stay A Little Longer.” Later, he would continue pushing the crowd toward musical euphoria with his Fleetwood vibes during an epic 12-minute guitar solo capping “It Ain’t My Fault.”
The Maryland-raised duo interjected various substances as reliable themes throughout the setlist, like “Weed, Whiskey and Willy,” “Greener Pastures,” “Drink Like Hank,” “Shoot Me Straight,” “Rum,” or “Tequila Again.” Masked love songs they may be, more obvious medleys pour out effectively on “Pushing Up Daisies,” “Me Before You,” or even their rendition of the driving Dierks Bentley No. 1 duet, “Burning Man.”
Bentley joined the brothers on a previous evening, as did Maren Morris, who is a co-writer on “Greener Pastures” in addition to another appearance by John’s wife and master tunesmith Lucie Silvas.
The East Nashville residents celebrated the final hometown show at the Ryman on Saturday (Feb. 16) with special opening guest, Warner Bros. artist The Wild Feathers. The two bands closed out the encore with the Lennon-McCartney “With A Little Help From My Friends,” while those friends, family members, neighbors and lovers swayed in the church pews before them.
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