I first became aware of the Oshima Brothers last June when they closed out the 2017 Monday Night Concert season at Slates, Water Street in Hallowell. I was struck by their wonderful sibling harmonies, smart lyrics and inventive musical mastery. Their self-titled debut CD has been a frequent visitor in my home and car CD players ever since. SWhen I learned they were returning to the Hallowell eatery on Oct. 22 I just had to reconnect with Sean and Jamie to see what was new in their lives and what folks could expect at their upcoming performance.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about your songwriting?

Sean: Sure. We wrote our first album by working on separate pieces and then coming together at the end to make the final product. I wrote the songs and then I brought them to Jamie who did all of the arrangements and instrumentation, and then we recorded together. That became The Oshima Brothers debut CD and we’ve been playing those songs the last two years all around the country.

Q: How is it different this time around?

Sean: With these new recordings that we’re making we’ve been working more collaboratively and that’s been really fun. It works best when someone has a song idea and we come together and build off of each other. Jamie can take his talent with arrangements and I can take my love of words and we combine them to make the best song possible.

Jamie: Sean is the poet and I’m the musician and I think the combination of that works really well.


Q: It sounds like the end result is greater than the parts individually. Is that a fair assessment?

Sean: I think that’s fair not only with the songs but all things in our brother band. We bring our strengths to each aspect of the band and the business. Together, we are strongest.

Q: When you’re playing live, do the songs from the first album change much over time: rhythmically, instrumentation-wise, even tonality?

Jamie: Playing our old songs live we have only two people to do it and we make an approximation of the studio album. Live we have an electric guitar, and acoustic guitar, an octave pedal, a percussion board and a kick drum.

Q: Sean plays acoustic guitar, I believe, and that leaves everything else on your plate, Jamie. It seems to me that you’re pretty busy up on stage.

Jamie: I am. Luckily I don’t sing on all the songs so I don’t have five things to do at once. I’m usually also doing our live sound, as well.


Sean: To me it seems like Jamie is doing 100 things at once on stage and I’m doing about three. That seems to work out best for everyone involved.

Q: I understand you recently moved from North Whitefield to Belfast, is that correct?

Sean: We live in Belfast. It’s been really lovely to have a new space to make music and a place near to the ocean where we get to spend all of our time.

Q: Is there a down side to the new digs?

Sean: It’s farther to get to anywhere south from up here, of course, so it makes our drive to Boston or New York a lot farther. We just purchased our first touring vehicle together, it’s kind of a mom-car and it’s perfect for the two of us and all of our gear.

Q: Do you have a studio in your home there in Belfast?


Jamie: Yeah, we have a 12-foot by 10-foot room full of recording gear and instruments. There’s a small closet that’s set up as a vocal booth.

Sean: Jamie spends nearly all of his time in that room making music, I would say. Especially these days as we work on recording new things.

Q: Is there any kind of a timeline on this second album as far as the release date goes?

Sean: We’re really excited to be putting out songs and videos with those songs in the next month. There’s no end goal because we don’t want to pressure ourselves to make recordings too fast. We want to be really happy with them so we’ve been taking our time recording the new music.

Q: Well, by doing it this way you can keep the interest in what you’re doing up as far as the fan base goes. Keeping yourselves in the public eye by releasing them here and there throughout the month.

Sean: That’s right. We’ll be putting out songs on all of our online platforms specifically streaming services like Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon and also on Youtube as music videos in the coming months.


Q: Will the folks at Slates get a chance to hear some of the new songs?

Sean: Yes, we’re very excited to be working on arrangements of new songs and we’ll be playing new things at Slates. Hopefully we don’t mess up any of the words, it should be a fun time.

Q: And after playing these new songs live you get a chance to get feedback from the audiences and that allows you to fine-tune them before recording the second album.

Jamie: We’ve been performing a bunch of new songs for the past year and in just the last week we’ve recorded a few of those songs and it definitely helped to imagine performing the songs having that energy of a crowd to push them in the right direction.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Sean: We’re so excited to play at Slates because we love that crowd and we love the space. I just feels so warm and great. To top it all the food is amazing. It’s always like a beautiful party in a house whenever we play there.

Jamie: It’s going to be a lovely night and we would love to see people there.

Lucky Clark, winner of a 2018 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award, has spent 49 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at luckyc@myfairpoint.net if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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