The Barr Brothers

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The Barr Brothers
OriginMontreal, Quebec, Canada
GenresFolk, Delta Blues
Years active2006–present
LabelsSecret City
MembersBrad Barr (guitar, vocals)
Andrew Barr (drums, percussion, vocals, keys)

The Barr Brothers is a band founded in Montreal, Quebec, consisting of two American brothers Andrew and Brad Barr as well as bassist Morgan Moore, pedal steel guitarist Brett Lanier and a rotating cast of Montreal musicians.[1]


Based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the group consists of two brothers: drummer Andrew Barr and songwriter and guitar player Brad Barr, both from Providence, Rhode Island. The third original member is harpist Sarah Pagé who discontinued touring with the band in 2018. Other instrumentation and musicians are added on tour, as needed.

Brad and Andrew Barr moved to Montreal from Providence, RI in 2005 after a decade of touring and recording as ⅔ of the trio, The Slip. That group was noted for its approach to long-form, live improvisation and was equally considered part of the jam band and experimental music scenes.[2]

Soon after moving to Montreal, Brad heard the sounds of a harp through the bedroom wall of his new apartment. He went next door to introduce himself to Sarah Pagé, who was performing both in classical contexts and developing music with the songwriter Lhasa de Sela. Andrew also began performing with Lhasa. Soon the trio of Andrew, Brad and Sarah began performing Brad's songs under the Barr Brothers name, building upon them with Malian rhythms, slide guitar, homemade percussion instruments, and influences from blues, Celtic and Appalachian folk traditions.The band's recordings have twice been nominated for Juno Awards (in 2013 and 2015 for Adult Alternative Album of the Year.[3]). Their self-titled debut album The Barr Brothers was released in 2011 and focused on acoustic and electrified songs rooted in Appalachian folk. Second album Sleeping Operator (2014) further explored the connections between the Delta blues and its West and North African ancestry. Leftover songs from the Sleeping Operator sessions were released as a five-track collection Alta Falls (2015). Their third album Queens of the Breakers will be released in autumn 2017.

The band tours frequently in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe with some shows played in Japan. Notable venues have included Levon Helm's studio in Woodstock NY; Red Rocks Amphitheater; two appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman.


2011–2013: The Barr Brothers[edit]

Their first song "Beggar In The Morning" debuted on Paste Magazine. Their debut, self-titled LP was released on September 27, 2011 via Secret City Records.[2] The band toured throughout North America and Europe to support the record, with notable appearances including Osheaga, a first performance on the Late Show with David Letterman, and a headline slot on the main stage Scène TD de la place des Festivals at the Montreal Jazz Festival, performing for a crowd estimated at more than 30,000. Notable media appearances included the use of "Ooh, Belle" in an episode of the television series Touch. The album went on to receive a Juno Nomination in 2013 for Adult Alternative Album of the Year.[3]

2014–2016: Sleeping Operator, Alta Falls[edit]

In the interim between records, the band made a notable live performance at Oregon's Pickathon in 2014.

Their sophomore album Sleeping Operator was released in October 2014. Award nominations included a 2016 nod for Most Illustrious Band Outside of Quebec by ADISQ, the Quebec music award council and a 2015 Juno nomination for Adult Alternative Album of the Year.

The record was promoted with global touring. Notable support dates included shows with Calexico and My Morning Jacket.[4][5]in the United States and Europe. The My Morning Jacket tour included the Barr Brothers first performance at Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

As headliners, the group were invited to perform at the Midnight Ramble Sessions at the Levon Helm studios in Woodstock, NY, performed on the main stage at Osheaga, and Yellowknife, Canada's Folk on The Rocks festival. Their most notable headline show was at the Grand Évènement of the Montreal Jazz Festival.[6], playing to an estimated crowd of 50,000. Many musician friends made appearances at this show: Patrick Watson, Robbie Kuster (Patrick Watson), Joe Grass, Michelle Tompkins (Sin & Swoon), Mamadou Kouyaté, Laurel Sprengelmeyer (Little Scream).[7]

Outside of the band, the Barrs participated in a tribute to The Grateful Dead on the Lachine Canal in the summer of 2016.[8] Following the October 2016 death of Leonard Cohen, Brad Barr participated in a tribute to Cohen's music put together by POP Montreal.[9] [10]

In 2016, the group released several of their favourite misfit tracks in the Alta Falls EP. The songs on the EP were partially recorded in Iceland by Valgeir Sigurösson (Björk, Sigur Rós, Nico Muhly).

2017–present: Recording and collaboration[edit]

Taking a step back from several years of heavy-touring, the band focused on writing and recording new music.

An anticipated collaborations with the Malian duo Bassekou Kouyate and Amy Sacko was scheduled for the 2017 editions of the Festival d’Été de Québec and the Montreal International Jazz Festival.[7] This was cancelled due to Kouyate and Sacko encountering Visa issues. Replacement players were found in Burkinabé balafonist Mamadou Koita and Senegalese kora player Sadio Sissoko and the resulting show was well reviewed. Of the interplay between the harp and kora, the Montreal Gazette noted "Despite the lack of historical connection between the two instruments, it made perfect sense in the Barr Brothers’ diverse, thoughtful musical universe." [11]

In autumn of 2017, the Barr Brothers released their third full length, Queens of the Breakers; were invited to open for The War on Drugs across Europe and the UK; and scheduled their own headline shows in major markets in North America, Europe and the United Kingdom. In January 2018, Sara Pagé left the band to pursue other interests.[12]

In 2018, Compulsion Games revealed that the brothers worked on the soundtrack and performed the songs for the game We Happy Few[13]

In October 2018, The Barr Brothers won the Félix award for Concert of the Year - Anglophone. They were also nominated in four other categories at Gala de l'ADISQ: Album of the Year - Anglophone, Quebec Artist with the Most Success Outside of Quebec, Sound Recording and Mix of the Year, Soundman of the Year.[14]


  • The Barr Brothers (2011) #63 CAN[15]
  • Sleeping Operator (2014)
  • Alta Falls (2015, EP)
  • Queens of the Breakers (2017) #29 CAN


  1. ^ "News". The Barr Brothers. Retrieved 2011-09-07.
  2. ^ "The Art of the Sit-In | Marc Friedman". JamBase. 2014-06-24. Retrieved 2017-03-22.
  3. ^ a b "Awards | The JUNO Awards". The JUNO Awards. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  4. ^ "Europe/UK tour with Calexico | The Barr Brothers". Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  5. ^ "Red Rocks Entertainment Concerts | Concerts Events | Detail | My Morning J 5 29 2016". Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  6. ^ "Concert: The Barr Brothers - Festival International de Jazz de Montréal". Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  7. ^ a b "The Barr Brothers au Festival de jazz". MatTV (in French). 2015-07-02. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  8. ^ "Montreal Folk Festival on the Canal follows the current where it leads". Montreal Gazette. 2016-06-13. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  9. ^ "POP Montreal stages Leonard Cohen tribute". Montreal Gazette. 2016-11-30. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  10. ^ " - Connecting People Through News". Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  11. ^ "Jazz fest review: Barr Brothers take lineup change in stride". Montreal Gazette. 8 July 2017.
  12. ^ Bernstein, Scott. "Sarah Pagé Departs The Barr Brothers". Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  13. ^ "Soundtrack reveal: The Make Believes". Compulsion Games. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  14. ^ "Palmarès ADISQ".
  15. ^

External links[edit]