Only two musicians will be playing at the Hawthorne Barn in Provincetown on May 27. But the Oshima Brothers want the audience to feel like they’re experiencing the sound of a bigger band.
“We’ve been really leaning into the shows as a duo and getting creative with the way that we’re presenting,” says Sean, 29. “We’ve been doing more and more live-looping and building the music from the ground up, so that by the end of the song, it’s a very large sound for two people.”
“There’s a lot of running around to all of the different instruments,” says Jamie, 25. “We’ve got drums, bass, electric guitars, and keyboard on the stage, and Sean entertains the audience while I get focused on jumping around on instruments.”
“Jamie is a multi-instrumentalist who likes to give each instrument equal time,” says Sean. “So, we fill our car up to the brim with instruments.”
That expansion of sound — which the brothers say takes hours of preparation to pull off — is just one new avenue they’ve pursued since the release of their second album, Dark Nights Golden Days, last year. They also directed, edited, and starred in videos for its 16 songs and combined them into a “visual album” that was released in April and is available on their website.
Some of the videos will be featured at their performance in Provincetown. Jamie says that he just figured out that morning how to overcome the “latest glitch” to make the combination of music and video work: “It’s getting better and better,” he says.
“That’s why the show feels new and exciting to us,” adds Sean.
Twenty Summers Program Director Alice Gong says she’s been hoping to bring the Oshima Brothers to Provincetown since first seeing their videos and that “the stars aligned” for them to play over Memorial Day weekend — just in time for the end of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. “Live music always works at the barn, and I’m excited to see what they bring,” she says.
Some of the brothers’ songs also complement Twenty Summers’ focus on social justice and a better future. While their repertoire is heavily weighted towards love songs, their work also addresses climate change, the effects of technology, and making a difference in local communities — topics they say reflect what’s on their minds. “I feel like we’re just dipping our toes into that whole world of using our voices to share messages to make the world a better place,” says Jamie.
While their 2016 debut album had an acoustic, folk-rooted sound, Dark Nights Golden Days is “a richly layered, genre-splicing sound that is at once retro and metro, spacious and intimate, lush and graceful,” according to the brothers’ website. They go on to describe it as “a set of music that invites people to dance in grocery stores as well as get lost in the wilderness.”
The brothers grew up in rural Whitefield, Maine, singing together with their folk musician parents. (One review of their 2022 single “Dance With Me” called them a “self-made boy band.”) The Twenty Summers show will be their first time performing on Cape Cod. As part of sharing the new experience equally, they say that one brother will drive their equipment to Provincetown while the other takes the ferry from Boston. They’ll then switch transportation for the trip home.
The Provincetown show will also mark the first live performance of a new version of their song “Evergreen,” which they released on May 19 as the debut of a new remix project called Origami. Sean wrote the song years ago on guitar, and Jamie has now remixed it as a percussion-forward pop production.
“The concept for the project is taking songs that we’ve already made and refolding those songs into new shapes, reimagining the songs just for fun,” Sean says.
Origami is also designed as an opportunity to collaborate with musician friends. For “Evergreen,” the brothers worked with the East Pointers, a contemporary folk band from eastern Canada they met at the Philadelphia Folk Festival a few years ago. “It’s so fun to connect with other people who are doing as crazy a thing as we are — driving around the country playing music,” Jamie says.
Songs of Two Brothers
The event: Oshima Brothers in concert at Twenty Summers
The time: Saturday, May 27, 6 p.m.
The place: Hawthorne Barn, 29 Miller Hill Road, Provincetown
The cost: $30 general admission; see 20summers.org for information