They dont need to use words to communicate on stage.
At this point, a look will do.
Their connection comes in part from more than a decade spent playing together at shows in their hometown of Puyallup and around the world. Plus, theyre brothers, which probably explains all the teasing, too.
The greatest memories I have of my entire life are traveling together as a family and playing music, said Derek Konzelman, 25, the second-oldest of five brothers who make up the core of the Konzelman family band. Ill absolutely cherish those.
Will you cherish that? asked Drew, 28, the oldest brother, with a grin and a touch of good-natured sarcasm.
Derek smiled and shot back an exaggerated, Absolutely!
The brothers, plus their parents, Greg and Joan, are playing a series of shows this week at the Puyallup Fair, which runs through Sunday at the fairgrounds on the edge of downtown.
Theyve been entertaining crowds at the fair regularly since 2001. They also trace the roots of their family band to the 17-day event.
Years ago, the Konzelmans watched another brood the Bulla family play the fair. The older Konzelman brothers were studying classical music but werent crazy about it. The Bulla kids, however, were playing bluegrass. And they looked pretty cool.
We looked at ourselves and were like We want to do what theyre doing because that looks like fun, Derek recalled. It looks like a blast.
The Konzelmans befriended the Bullas, learning about their style of music. They started playing small gigs at barbecues, nursing homes before graduating to bigger shows, including the fair, which draws more than 1 million people during its run.
The other Konzelman brothers are David, 20, Daniel, 18, and Darien, 16. Theres also a Konzelman sister Dustin-Leigh, the oldest who used to play in the family band but now is married and living in California.
These days, Greg and Joan play on some songs. Other times, its just the five brothers, who play as the Konzelman Brothers.
It was the Konzelman kids not their parents who pushed to form the family band, the three oldest Konzelman brothers said in an interview last week. Greg and Joan were supportive, the brothers said.
They were like, OK, well play along with you guys and help you out and encourage you guys, Derek said. I think they thought it would last like a month or something, and wed get over it, Drew said.
But they didnt. Drew taught Greg, a clinical psychologist, to play guitar, and Derek taught Joan, who home-schooled the kids, upright bass. All the brothers now play multiple instruments guitar, bass, banjo, fiddle, piano and mandolin work their way into the mix.
Their style is a bit hard to pin down, influenced by their eclectic tastes, from folk rock to Celtic to bluegrass to pop, the oldest brothers said.
Drew, the bands leader and primary songwriter, said they aim to put on a high-energy show that leaves audience members more cheerful and encouraged than when they arrived. The Konzelmans are Christians, and, Its been our familys ministry, Drew said.
Its pretty neat to get to do that as a family, he said. Not a lot of families get to do that.
Since the Konzelmans made their Puyallup Fair debut, theyve traveled Europe and Japan playing shows. In Hungary, they played on the main stage of a music festival before thousands. In Japan, they sang the U.S. national anthem at a baseball game before roughly 18,000 spectators, riding in on Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Theyve played around the country, too. A couple of years ago, the brothers toured the West Coast.
The older brothers said they love playing together. They have that connection, that foundation of familial love.
That playful teasing.
Its an interesting dynamic, said David, the middle brother. Being in a family band, you cant really fire band members.
Thats my joke, Drew cut in.
Yeah, thats Drews joke, David said, laughing. But, in all seriousness, he said, playing together has brought the family even closer.
Now theyre looking toward their musical futures.
The Konzelman Brothers are working on a record of new original material and one featuring their take on some classic hymns, which they plan to release in the next year. (Drew, Derek and David also play in a separate band, The Acclaim, which released a new single earlier this month).
Theyre also looking forward to their fair run.
The Konzelmans will be at the Showplace Stage. The shows there always feel a little like a reunion, Derek said, because they run into entertainers, fair workers and vendors whove become friends over the years. They play for fans whove watched them since they were kids, in the place where they first got their inspiration.
People have come (to our fair shows) some people the entire 11 years and theyve gotten to watch us grow up, literally, on stage, in front of their eyes, Derek said.
Its pretty amazing.
IF YOU GO
The Konzelman family band will play this week on the Puyallup Fair’s Showplace Stage at noon, 2:30 and 5 p.m. daily through Saturday, and at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30, 3:30 and 7:15 p.m. Sunday. More on the band.