Roof caves in? No problem for Brothers Osborne, who take the show atop their bus

John Osborne, left, and T.J. Osborne of Brothers Osborne, pose in the press room with their hardware for vocal duo of the year at the 50th CMA Awards last month in Nashville.
John Osborne, left, and T.J. Osborne of Brothers Osborne, pose in the press room with their hardware for vocal duo of the year at the 50th CMA Awards last month in Nashville.
(Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

While “blowing the roof off” a venue is generally a euphemism for describing great shows, Brothers Osborne have had some discomfittingly close calls with the real thing of late.

For the second time in two weeks, the CMA-winning country duo, composed of brothers T.J. and John Osborne, has had to deal with falling chunks of ceiling at shows. 

In late November, at the Egyptian Theatre in Boise, Idaho, the pair had to cut short a performance when bits began falling from above near the end of their performance. 

But the Maryland siblings took another old axiom — “the show must go on” —  to heart Saturday night in Hanford, Calif., when unsafe conditions in the Hanford Fox Theatre forced them to scramble for an alternative. Their solution? Move the show outdoors to the top of their tour bus. The unconventional setting prompted them to stream the whole show on Facebook Live. (Warning: Some NSFW language.)

“I’ve never really heard of this problem happening and out of all of the hundreds of shows we’ve done, I’ve never had it happen” said T.J. Osborne by phone as the brothers tooled around L.A. on a day off from their “Dirt Rich” tour in support of their debut album “Pawn Shop.”  The pair play the Belasco Theater on Thursday.

“The first time it happened in Boise it was right at the end of the show,” said Osborne, recalling their first encounter with a wobbly ceiling. “So the people there at least got to see a relatively regular set. Last night, right before [opener] Lucie Silvas was about to play, a huge piece of the roof fell down at once right on her piano bench. And it’s like plaster, so it’s really hard and heavy. And so they came right in and the owner of the building and our tour manager collectively came to the conclusion that it needed to be rescheduled.” (The rescheduled date will be announced soon.)

But the brothers were concerned about canceling on a crowd already at the theatre or en route. “Even for the people that just live in Hanford, these people have babysitters and they’ve changed their schedules and sometimes for a show people people come out of their way. And I was like, ‘Man, that would really suck, even if they get another show. We’ve got to do something, some sort of consolation.’”

As they mulled their options, Brothers Osborne band bass player Pete Sternberg jokingly suggested playing on top of the group’s tour bus. “John and I were like, ‘Yeah, we should, let’s do that right now,’” says Osborne with a laugh. 

They hoisted up what they could fit of the PA, as well two microphones and a cocktail drum kit, climbed out the emergency hatch at the top of the bus and played a 30-minute set, Silvas, John Osborne’s wife, joined them for a number as well. The show included hits “Rum,” “Stay a Little Longer” and “21 Summer” — which was recently nominated for a Grammy for country duo or group performance — for the crowd that had moved onto the street in front of the theater. “We were hoping to do a little bit more, but once we got up there we realized there just was not a lot of room and it started raining, so we made it short and sweet, something they can remember. It was pretty fun.”

So should fans headed to the show at the Belasco don hard hats? 

“Yeah, exactly, we’re having structural engineers do reconnaissance,” Osborne said with a laugh. 

The pair will be back in February for the Grammy Awards at Staples Center. “It’s a cliché,” says Osborne, “but it’s hard to convey just what an honor it is to be nominated. It’s pretty remarkable.”