The Barr Brothers, in the boudoir, with the harp

The Barr Brothers – Rockwood Music Hall – 7/27/11

The Barr Brothers (so-named for brothers Brad and Andrew) may not have even released their debut album yet, but the Montreal quartet is already poised to win your heart… and maybe even break it.

The Barr Brothers (photo Andrew Guerette)

Soft and sweet one moment and delta-blues dirty the next, they exhibit such a wide sonic range and emotional breadth that I simply could not choose just one or two clips to feature, so I cheated and created the following medley to give you an idea of what’s at play:

Taking advantage of the small space and eager audience, Brad (guitar/vox) found a unique way to drum up audience participation. Forget a sing-a-long. Instead, Brad unraveled three lines of what appeared to be some kind of a fine string (fishing line? thread?) and handed them out to various members of the audience with instructions to pass them along. By simply running their fingernails up and down the lines (which were all attached to Brad’s guitar), the unwitting on-lookers contributed surprisingly lovely notes that served as the backbone for the final song, heard below.

The Barr Brothers’ self-titled debut, which was recorded in a boiler room and features guest musicians Elizabeth Powell (Land of Talk) and Jocie Adams (The Low Anthem) to mention just a couple, is due out 9/27 on Secret City.

Oh, and here’s a video of a previous Barr Brothers performance at Rockwood. (Did I mention there’s a harp??) Notice how the moody interior decor compliments the music nicely. “Beggar in the Morning,” the opening track from their upcoming album, may very well be my favorite song.


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"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being


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