Whether performing a straightforward folk-rock song or experimenting with acoustic-music traditions from around the world, the Barr Brothers—guitarist Brad Barr and his percussionist brother Andrew, together with harpist Sarah Page and bassist/keyboardist Andres Vial—create remarkable layers of unusual music.

The two brothers, now based in Montreal, Canada, began playing together in the experimental indie band the Slip, in Massachusetts, while attending the Berklee College of Music. That band recorded several albums between 1997 and 2006 before the Barrs moved north where, fortuitously, they met up with their neighbor Page, who happened to like experimenting with music, and later Vial.


The Barr Brothers’ self-titled debut in 2011 is a gorgeous set of songs that echo influences ranging from Leonard Cohen to the Band, and includes one song, “Cloud,” which they dedicated to their late friend and likeminded musical innovator, Mexican-American Lhasa de Sela, who spent much of her adult life in Canada. The Barrs’ most recent album is Sleeping Operator, released this week.

Acoustic Guitar is thrilled to present an Acoustic Guitar Sessions with the Barr Brothers, in which guitarist Brad Barr reveals a little playing trick and the band performs “Cloud” and the African-inspired “Half Crazy.”

For more Acoustic Guitar Sessions, check out the archive.