Deale's Brothers Osborne show off their hometown in video for hit country song

Two brothers from south Anne Arundel County are letting the record show: Maryland is country, too.

John and T.J. Osborne, the Brothers Osborne, have spent more than 10 years working to make it in Nashville. After many rejections and many performances in near-empty bars, they developed a sound that landed a record deal with EMI last year. Last year the brothers released their first single — "Let's Go There" — and reached the No. 36 position on Nielsen's country national airplay list.

They've been going full-throttle ever since, T.J. said between yawns on Wednesday. A tour with David Nail and a radio tour across the nation kicked off a hectic schedule that the Brothers Osborne will continue this fall as part of Grammy-nominated country star Eric Church's 2014 Outsiders World Tour.

They've been a long way from Deale, the south county home they once described in an interview as a town of bars and flower shops — so men can get drunk, fight with their women, and then get them flowers and make up.

But given the chance to film the music video for their second single, "Rum," anywhere in the world, the brothers knew of just one place.

John and T.J. called their parents. A couple of days later, the bright lights of Nashville came to the Osborne family and their friends at Deale's Happy Harbor and at Skipper's Pier Restaurant & Dock Bar. Three weeks after the video's release, 'Rum' is No. 32 on Nielsen's country airplay chart and No. 34 on Billboard's top-50 list of Hot Country Songs.

"We get asked all the time, 'How the hell do you get into country music or know about the country culture when you're from Maryland?'" T.J. said. "People think it's some massive metropolis and it's all Baltimore. So we thought we'd give people a little bird's-eye view of what our hometown is like."

John and T.J. moved to Nashville more than a decade ago. While growing up in Deale and attending Southern High School, John said, the two were exposed to music of all kinds, from Hank Williams Sr. to Mariah Carey.

Their parents were musicians, too, who built a shed in the backyard and used it as a recording studio. John Sr. said the boys' mother would stay up nights writing music when the kids were young.

"She would go to Nashville and try to pitch it and nothing ever came of it," he recalled.

The younger John and T.J., two of five children, watched and learned. For fun, they played just about every instrument, John Sr. said.

Visitors to the Osborne household had to step over mandolins and guitars strewn about the kitchen.

The noisy, cluttered environment pushed T.J. to start writing songs when he was 7 or 8, his father said.

It also spurred John to get classical training on the double bass. John was named The Capital's Teen of the Week in 2000, partly due to his success in orchestra. John now plays lead guitar for the Brothers Osborne, as well as other instruments. He's a "bad-ass mandolin player," according to his father.

"One time we got a hold of a stand-up guitar, a very complicated instrument to master," John Sr. said. "I remember we got it on a Monday and by Friday night John was playing it and tearing it up. He was just ripping the thing apart."

By their late teens, T.J. and John joined their father to form Deuce & a Quarter. They booked sets at Happy Harbor, Skipper's Pier, the Deale firehouse and anywhere else they could play.

John turned down offers from faculty members at Catholic University and George Washington University in order to attend Belmont University in Nashville. A benefit the community held for him helped him get enough money to go.

From an early age, you could tell something was special about John and T.J., said Eric Montgomery, who grew up nearby in Lothian and now manages Happy Harbor.

"When I was younger, they were showing that they were performers," Montgomery said.

Over the past four months, the Brothers Osborne's "Rum" has been written up in Rolling Stone and the New York Times. Rolling Stone listed the brothers among the "10 New Artists You Need To Know" for this summer. It called "Rum" "the blue-collar summer anthem."

Having images of the small water town of Deale accompany that anthem is pretty cool for residents there, Montgomery said.

"They could have gone to any beach, anywhere, gone down to Florida, but they didn't want to do that. They picked this little fishing town."

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