Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Last night i strolled down the street to Pete's Candy Store and saw one of my favs, Brad Barr perform a rare solo acoustic set. Brad is the guitarist/voxist from The Slip, a boston-based rock trio that stylistically cover ground from funk to indie to jazz to acoustic to jam and so on and so on. Most of their new fans started listening after their song "Even Rats" was featured on the game Guitar Hero. Their new album Eisenhower has been playing in my car for the past 6 months and i'm still hearing new things in it every time i listen.
Brad's solo stuff is a bit different than what the Slip have been playing the past 2 years. When he's by himself, he tends to get real folky, finger picking and strumming simple progressions and letting his voice explore ranges not ususally covered at a slip show. The lack of backing instruments really gave his voice a chance to shine.
The place was packed. I managed to find a little spot on the floor towards the back nudged in between 2 chairs. The setting was perfect. The stage at Pete's resembles a 30's burlesque stage but shrunk so that only a duo can comfortably fit. Old dull light bulbs border the procenium and frame the performer quite nicely. Brad, fresh from a wedding, was dressed in a jacket and tie. I walked in during the opening jam and prepared for an intimate evening.
It has been about 4 years since i've seen a solo set from Brad, and it was well worth the wait. I didn't really know what to expect. I did know that there were rumors of a solo album coming soon and I was excited to hear some of the material that could be on it. The set started with a free acoustic jam on a nylon string, something resembling a raga melody form, with a drone tambura sample in the background. The jam slowly evolved into a song, one that I was not familiar with, but still enjoyed. The first tune I recognized was "Sarah through the Walls", a Leo Kottke -esque instrumental tune that i've been listening to for quite some time now. Brad posted it to his myspace over a year ago and i've been anxiously waiting to hear it live. This tune was the highlight of the night for me. The whole room went silent from beginning to end. Pete's was the perfect place to hear it.
Next was a tune called "Ooh Belle", a song that was just recently added to the myspace playlist, similar vibe to "Sarah" but with vocals. Next was a sultry break-up song written by Brad's friend who joined him on vocals.
A few more tunes, Life in Disguise (off the new album Eisenhower), Before you Were Born (written by Barr and Nathan Moore from the album Aliveacoustic) and a closer that i didn't recognize.
All in all a very personal and inspiring show. He made me want to run home and break out the acoustic. Oh did I mention it was FREE? We are truly fortunate as a city to be able to see people like Brad on a Monday night for free.
check out brad's tunes here on Myspace