Barr Brothers Played One Longfellow [12.3.11]

On Saturday night, Montreal’s Barr Brothers stopped in at One Longfellow Square in Portland for their first show in town. Read on for HillyTown photographer Louis’ take on the night and a full gallery from the band’s set.

Sonic. Acoustic. Electric. Distorted. Simple. Quiet. Inventive. And amazingly refreshing.

The Barr Brothers delivered when they took they stage at One Longfellow Square this past Saturday night with their unique blend of blues, Americana, indie folk and and experimental music. Although the exact workings of Brad Barr’s string bow technique on his guitar still remain a bit of a mystery one thing was clear – these guys know what they’re doing.

A stage set-up featuring a towering classical harp, a vintage pump organ, a sweet black Guild electric running through a few fuzz, delay and overdrive pedals, and an array of percussive weapons of mass musical creation might seem a bit odd to some but for the Barr Brothers this is the place where they have found their sweet spot.

It’s a place somewhere near those old blue delta crossroads of Mr. Johnson but just a little further on up the road a bit near a quiet turnoff where the the echos of the Appalachians meet the reflectiveness of that old Laurel Canyon sound.

A place where, despite welcome musical tangents, improvisation and experimentation, the core of the songs and the driving melodies are never lost.

On Saturday night that place was One Longfellow Square.

From the quiet harmonies of “Beggar in the Morning”, to the the rocking infectious groove of “Give the Devil Back His Heart” and the hints of bluegrass in “Darkness Has Arms”, the Barr Brothers rolled through songs from their self-titled debut album with grace and ease.

Singer / guitarist Brad Barr is just at home fingerpicking his acoustic as he is hammering down on his electric. Backed by bandmate and brother, Andrew Barr (drums, vocals), Sarah Page (harp, guitar, percussion, vocals) and Andres Vial (keyboards, bass, percussion, vocals), Barr led the band through a solid set before returning for an encore featuring members of opening act Jocie Adams’ (The Low Anthem) band on clarinet, fiddle and trumpet – instruments that seemed a fine fit and easy addition to The Barr Brothers already diverse musical landscape.

Photos by Huck Photography.