Austin Music Journal


The Whiskey Sisters

Posted by Deborah Orazi on January 14, 2013 at 1:35 AM

It's Thursday Happy Hour at the Continental Club and the place is packed.

I quickly notice, however, that this isn't your usual mixed crowd of music lovers. Sure, there are plenty of women scattered about, but surrounding the stage are a sea of males clutching beer bottles, rapt faces turned upward toward the source of the music.

Seemingly bewitched.

This may have something to do with the two women singing like a couple of sirens on stage.

They call themselves The Whiskey Sisters, but in fact, they aren't even related.

Teal Collins and Barbara Nesbitt are, if anything, soul sisters.

They front one of the best new bands in town, a rock and soul revue with a nod to Tina Turner and even the Everly Brothers.

 "Harmony driven, powerhouse rocking, Americana - with chicks!" is how Teal described it.

"It’ll make you feel good!” Barbara added.

Each had made a name for herself around town (Collins with The Mother Truckers, Nesbitt as a solo artist) before teaming up last year.

"Barbara and I had met at a Stonehoney show where we both sat in with those guys,” Teal recalled. “We met again at the Saxon for the (South Austin) Moonlighters, and talked about singing together. When we got together and ran some tunes, there was a light bulb that went on for both of us, a simplicity when finding harmonies, and matching vibratos, that you rarely find with another singer! We also discovered a shared love of many of the same bands, and the same favorite color, yellow - which is weird!  We've been together less than a year and have already recorded an album and are doing a residency at the Continental Club every Thursday.”

Both of the women have strong musical histories that are apparent in performance and in their songwriting.

"My dad was a jazz disc jockey and so growing up there was no end to the great music I was turned on to,” said Teal. “He taught me to play ukulele at five-years-old and we would play a bunch of jazz standards like 'Ain't She Sweet" etc. As a teen I discovered the Beatles and Zeppelin, started playing an electric guitar that Les Paul gave me (through my dad's relationship with Les), and started rocking in garage bands with fellow school mates. They pushed me to sing in the band, and it was a lot easier than playing guitar, so I pretty much turned into a singer right then! Josh Zee and I put together The Mother Truckers in 1999 and released four albums, toured the world, and followed our musical noses to Austin, where the scene was just right for what we do. I'm happy to report that it feels just right for the Whiskey Sisters as well!”

In case you were wondering, Teal still has the guitar Les Paul gave her, and plays it often.

“I used to sneak my father’s old 45s from the basement as a kid and put on shows to my dolls, singing and dancing around to The RighteousBrothers, Sam Cooke, and The Everly Brothers among others!” Barbara said of her background. “ I left home at 15, joined a band and never looked back.  My first band was a jam band called Rare Daze in Virginia and was just a good dang time.  I moved away from that genre in my writing and formed a rock band called Cradle and played in an acoustic duo called The Perpetrators for a number of years.  From there I moved to San Diego and hit a massive creative streak, writing all the time, and forming a band out there to showcase those songs.  I also started singing back-ups part of the year with Tim Flannery,  the third base coach for The Giants (in his off seasons).  San Diego was wonderful but I like to challenge myself, so I moved to Austin not knowing a soul and jumped into the music scene.  I was playing solo and small ensemble shows when Teal and I met and formed The Whiskey Sisters.  The musical synergy I feel with her is unmatched and we are forging ahead!!”

Their debut CD is due next month, recorded with basically the same band they use on stage, the exception being guitarist Etan Sekons takeing over for Josh Zee live.

"It's ALL original material!,” Teal said of the CD. “Twelve songs recorded at Congress House studios and Summit Studios here in Austin. We have Josh Zee on electric guitar, Lonnie Trevino, Jr. on bass, Michael Davids on keys, and Phil Bass on drums. Barbara and I played acoustic guitar and handclaps!

“The record hits the streets Tuesday, Feb.19, when we will do a 5 p.m. Waterloo Records in-store performance and signing. Then, Feb. 22 we will have our official CD release party at, where else, the Continental Club!”

Collins and Nesbitt each contributed songs to the CD and are big admirers of each others songwriting.

“ Teal’s tune, 'Good Girl Down',  has always been one of my favorites to play, and I think it came off really well in the studio,” Barbara said. “It has that upbeat, twangy, strong female thing that I think represents The Whiskey Sisters well and makes you smile.”

 "I really love Barbara's song  'All I Can Do' “, said Teal. “The whole sentiment behind it is really sweet and the melody just carries you away! It was one of the first songs she brought to the table and right away it fit!”

 You can hear them play those songs and more Thursdays starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Continental. For other gigs, check out their web site at

See our Photo Gallery for more pics of The Whiskey Sisters.





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