Tag Archives: Brad Barr

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The Barr Brothers Delight Sold-Out Sinclair with New Music

November 30th, 2017

The Barr Brothers – The Sinclair – November 29, 2017


(The Barr Brothers play Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday night.)
 
The Barr brothers are a pair of siblings, of course—guitarist Brad Barr and drummer Andrew Barr—but the Barr Brothers is also a band, a fabulously shape-shifting one that operates in a unique middle ground made possible only by the combination of the unique talents in the group. The band has a new album out, The Queens of the Breakers, and their supporting tour brought them to a sold-out, mid-week show at The Sinclair in Cambridge, Mass., the Boston area being a sort of midway point between the Barrs’ hometown of Providence, R.I., and their current base in Montreal. Before they even took the stage, the packed room already warmly resonated with the sight of the instruments onstage: so many strings, a more-than-can-count-on-one-hand amount of guitars and basses, all bracketed by the looming harp on one side and a pedal steel guitar on the other.

The brothers and band took the stage to a hearty cheer and immediately opened with the new record’s title track, finding a quick ease with one another and the crowd. That mid-range sound was established right away, depending on the angle you took, it was folk or rock or even jazz. Brad Barr opened on an acoustic guitar, accentuated by the harp and steel on either side and then switched to a 12-string on the following “Hideous Glorious,” the ensuing coda of “Part 2” giving Sarah Pagé a chance to indulge the audience with twinkles from her harp. But it wasn’t just the guitars that changed for every song, each tune featured a brand-new combination of instruments, the music morphing and evolving in significantly new directions each time. At some point I finally lost count of the different instruments, but there were a dobro and banjo and at least one I-don’t-know-what-that’s-called instrument.

Ukulele, harp, pedal steel and upright bass created a dreamy soundscape atop hypnotic rhythms on “Look Before It Changes,” like some sort of jazz from the future. Another highlight was “Maybe Someday,” the bass and drums revealing a slinky groove that seemed to extend infinitely in all directions. Later Brad Barr and Pagé played an extended two-person intro, combining to sound more like sitar and tabla than slide guitar and harp. Playing pretty much all of the new album through the night, the Barr Brothers managed to work in some older material, punctuated by the crowd favorite “Beggar in the Morning” in the encore. As they did a few times during the set, the group appropriately sang it from the middle of the stage, brothers and band around a single microphone in their happy medium. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

 

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The Barr Brothers Bring Their Beautiful, Exotic New Music to the LES

November 24th, 2014

The Barr Brothers – The Bowery Ballroom – November 21, 2014

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If you got to the Barr Brothers show at The Bowery Ballroom a little early on Friday night like I did, you were greeted by a stage filled with instruments. Music makers of all sorts crammed every corner of the space: at least half a dozen guitars including some D.I.Y. thing that looked like an old lunch pail with strings, a harp, a pedal steel guitar, a couple of keyboards, drums (is that a bicycle wheel?!) and at some point around a zillion I lost count. It was a sight to behold and foreshadowed the music to come. At least a couple of those instruments belonged to the opener, Leif Vollebekk, who mesmerized the early birds with a solo set of folk-centric music, the perfect palette cleanser between the workweek and the weekend. He packed quite a bit into his 30 minutes, playing two different guitars at multiple tunings each, an electric piano, a harmonica and a violin he had hidden off to the side. The highlight was “When the Subway Comes Above the Ground,” a long, Dylan-esque number with wonderful imagery and acoustic guitar playing to match. Vollebekk finished with a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You.”

By the time the Barrs took the stage, the room was filled with decidedly high spirits. The band, the brothers Andrew and Brad Barr plus four, began things, naturally, all with an instrument in hand, including Sarah Page, holding what I guess I’d call a mini harp, and Andrew on banjo. The music was beautiful and exotic, a sound greater than the contributions of each musician and instrument. Songs like “Wolves” and “Love Ain’t Enough,” off their new album, Sleeping Operator, or the excellent “Beggar in the Morning,” from their 2011 self-titled debut, deliciously blended pedal steel–meets-harp in ethereal melody. Along the way, all those instruments onstage—and more hidden from sight—made an appearance in fascinating permutations, Brad Barr performing with each different guitar like a musician showing off a how’d-he-do-that trick. The sounds were dense and often unexpected, I kept craning my neck to see who was playing what and how and usually gave up. While Brad led the way and proved his mastery on guitar, Andrew held things together and set the tone, at one point simultaneously singing and playing drums and banjo. At different times the music felt African and heavy blues and art-folk-pop or genres still to be determined, everything made to fit together snug by the brothers Barr.

Following a lengthy set, the Barr Brothers encored with “Cloud (For Lhasa),” which seemed to encompass and summarize the whole night at once—beautiful songwriting augmented by masterful guitar playing, distinctive harp plucking, pedal steel (played with a bow for good measure), Andrew playing drums and xylophone, Leif Vollebekk returning to add some violin, not to mention great keyboard and bass playing, and to top it all off, Brad Barr taking a lengthy solo that brought him down into the crowd. Quite a way to end quite a set. Good thing too … if they had kept playing, they might have literally brought out the kitchen sink. —A. Stein | @neddyo

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The Barr Brothers Return with New Music at The Bowery Ballroom

November 20th, 2014

Brothers Andrew (drums and percussion) and Brad (vocals, guitar and keys) Barr, who have been members of the Slip and Surprise Me Mr. Davis, moved to Montreal after one of the brothers fell for a local waitress. Early on, Brad and neighbor Sarah Page (harp) could hear each other playing through the walls and struck up a musical friendship. Then, following the addition of Andres Vial (keys, pump organ and bass), the Barr Brothers were born. The folk quartet’s self-titled debut album (stream it below) came out in 2011. “The Barr Brothers are a different kind of folk group,” announced AllMusic, “bringing in unusual instrumentation and performing in a manner that draws the listener into a special musical world.” The Barr Brothers (above, playing “Even the Darkness Has Arms” on Late Show with David Letterman) released their second full-length, Sleeping Operator (stream it below), last month. And the good folks at Relix were impressed: “A product of both invention and intuition, the appropriately dubbed Sleeping Operator isn’t anything less than a dazzling delight.” See them headline The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night. Bluesy folk singer-songwriter Leif Vollebekk, also from Montreal, opens the show.

The Bowery Presents Live Features the Barr Brothers

May 8th, 2012


Andrew (drums and percussion) and Brad (vocals, guitar and keys) Barr, who have been members of the Slip and Surprise Me Mr. Davis, moved to Montreal after one of the brothers fell for a local waitress. Early on, Brad and neighbor Sarah Page (harp) could hear each other playing through the walls and struck up a musical friendship. Then, with the addition of Andres Vial (keys, pump organ and bass), the Barr Brothers were born. The band’s first album, a quality self-titled blend of folk and Americana, came out last year. And today The Bowery Presents Live features the Barr Brothers. Watch them, above, performing “Old Mythologies” and then see them on the roof of a building discuss growing up and how they flesh out songs. And, of course, make sure you subscribe to The Bowery Presents Live for plenty of performances, interviews and live-streamed shows.