Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1093

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Feature

The Teskey Brothers: It's A Family Affair

The Teskey Brothers @bluesandsoul.com
The Teskey Brothers @bluesandsoul.com The Teskey Brothers @bluesandsoul.com The Teskey Brothers @bluesandsoul.com The Teskey Brothers @bluesandsoul.com

There are some voices you recognise instantly and there are some who can convey a story to perfection. Some command respect as you admire their vocal verve, intonation and style and some can touch your heart as they vocalise their feelings with melody perfectly. Josh Teskey, lead singer with the Teskey Brothers, enhances all those properties and with the frontman’s power charged life worn vocal grit, which in turn gives him pipeline directly to your soul. Saying all that, this guy and his band are by no means the finished article but let's just say, the possibilities for The Teskey Brothers and in particular, Josh Teskey, are as great as you can imagine. No pressure then! Lol.

This authentic blues & soul band hail from Yarra Valley in Warrandyte (renowned for gold mining), just outside Melbourne, Australia and were originally named by said brother Josh (vocals/guitar/harmonica) and younger rhythm guitar playing sibling, Sam Teskey. Liam Gough (drums) and Brendon Love (bass guitar) make up the other members of this very capable foursome.

I was lucky to catch up with the brothers Teskey backstage at Love Supreme recently, in a picturesque part of Lewis, near Brighton, where they opened the festival at midday during a mini-heatwave - it must have known they were coming! Here was the perfect venue and audience to showcase material from their new Decca Records release, their must-have sophomore album, "Run Home Slow”.

Although The Teskey Brothers are a new name on this side of the water and seem to have shot to prominence from nowhere, this outfit have by no means taken the short cut to fame, as Sam explains "We've been playing together for 15 years and doing fine… It's like, where we have come from, in the last 2 years it's built up a lot and we've come a long way. Those 13 years before that, we were playing pubs around Melbourne and we were content doing that, as well. If it goes back to that, that's not bad". Also reflecting on their journey, Josh enlightens further, because believe it or not “we never really released anything! We just performed live gigs. It's what you call ‘doing time in the trenches’. We've played all sorts of weird gigs, you have to adjust your stage volume and playing, in all sorts of environments - you develop your sound as well. It's important to do that. All the while you're adapting to different performance senses”.

It was fair to say, the eagerly assembled Main Stage crowd didn't know what to expect as the vast majority had never heard of The Teskey Brothers previously but boy-oh boy, did they get the party started right or ‘festival’ in this case. Featuring New York trumpeter/"shit hot" trombonist, Ruben Lewis. But with a change of bass player as Love couldn't make the trip on this occasion but was deputised by top bass talent and friend of the band James Milligan "We first met him at your 18th birthday, he was about 15 years old and he just picked up the bass he was a machine back then, you know what I mean? He was a player, even at 15. He's got such a groove”.

These guys were no slouches at that age either. As mentioned, Sam and Josh have been honing their craft for a good few years, as Josh mentions the very early days “I was singing since I was 12 or something, singing blues and soul trying to get that sound since I was a kid and always loved those records and that's been my sound my whole life. I listened to Otis Redding a lot, Wilson Picket, Percy Sledge… Alternatively, Sam's heroes were just as impressive "I used to listen to a lot of guitarists, that was kinda my world…Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac), Jimmy Hendrix and B.B. King… B.B. King was a huge one for me. Also, Mark Eltham, he had a really beautiful way of playing with his fingers with his guitar but didn't get into the later stuff so much".

Sam is also first to respond when matters move on to when the Teskey's first knew they should make music family priority "Josh, as a joke said, dad I can sing like a bluesman and dad was like, ‘that's actually pretty good, you should keep singing like that’ and he did…he then kinda progressed that way. He went busking and it worked well. (He performed at) a big market place with big crowds - his voice projected over and the yelling was to kinda get peoples attention, people were like, what's this guy yelling at?" Recalling his busking days, Josh chips in with "it was a really nice environment and we used to go there most weekends - mum and dad would always go there. I did that from when I was about 13 to 18…. That was my job through school, you know, when people get a job to get money for the weekend. That was all we ever did was busking. When I was about 15 Sam came on board with me as well. The first couple of years I used to do it by myself and then Sam came on board and started doing it with us. Every Saturday we would go play". Attuning his memories, Samm adds "It inspired me to pick up the guitar I managed to earn the money to save up for my guitar. I still use the same guitar today and I have a Pignose amp".

Sam shares more early memories of playing his guitar alongside his brother and how in sync they have become over the years "I just used to play along Josh, he would sing and I would play along in the gaps. I guess it's the blues thing… He would sing a long note and I would respond on the guitar and we have been doing that for years…20 years! We have been playing so long together that it naturally rolls together, even as far as singing notes… Say, for instance, a lick I just played was a response to Josh - that stuff is really spontaneous and you can only really do it in the moment - you gotta sing like you've never sung before and I'll get the guitar and respond to that.
Inevitably, "Run Home Slow" comes up for discussion. It's an album which impresses on many levels, not least in its evolvement from their half-decent debut "Half Mile Harvest", in which you can hear their now-signature sound appear at intervals throughout the release. When the tracks on this first album work, they really work! And that's the sound the Teskey Brothers have run with - that Muscle Shoals soul sound that made Picket, Conolly, Carter, Sam & Dave, Redding and many other male singers in the Stax family household names. I have no doubt, if the Teskey Brothers had been releasing records in the ‘60s, there would have been a phone call from FAME studios to ask them to join their roster, they are that good and that authentic… and they would be household names.

The album Run Home Slow and single So Caught Up are out on Decca Records.

You can catch The Teskey Brothers live at London’s Jazz Cafe on September 3.

Also, January 2020: (22nd) Brighton Concorde 2, (23rd) O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire - London, (25th) Whelans - Dublin, (26th) Gorilla - Manchester, (27th) St. Luke’s - Glasgow, (28th) and O2 Institute2 - Birmingham.

You can read more from B&S Editor Lee Tyler's not to be missed interview with one of THE acts of the moment/B&S one to watch, The Teskey Brothers, which includes the band's blues influences, why Josh loves playing harmonic during shows, how they structure their song writing and their personal faves on the new album "Run Home Slow" ...all in the current issue of Blues & Soul magazine - click the 'BUY NOW' link below to order straight from the B&S shop or read on for high street retailer details...

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ESSENTIAL LINKS:

TWITTER: @TeskeyBrothers

INSTAGRAM: theteskeybrothers

FACEBOOK facebook/theteskeybrothers

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PHOTOS: NICK McKINLAY
Words LEE TYLER

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