Photo credit: Brigitte Henry
Today, BRAD BARR – the lead singer and songwriter of The Barr Brothers – is announcing THE WINTER MISSION, a brand-new instrumental solo guitar album out January 21 via Secret City Records.
The guitarist also shared today the first single from the album titled “ANCIENT CALENDARS”. Have a read then listen below.
Brad Barr is the lead singer and songwriter of The Barr Brothers, a folk-Americana band that’s been around for over a decade. They have toured with The War on Drugs, Calexico, Shakey Graves and Patrick Watson. Their TV performances include The Late Show with David Letterman and CBS This Morning Saturday. They’ve received constant support from press and radio including the entire BBC network, key stations such as KCRW, KEXP, WFUV, WXPN, World Café, Sirius XM, NPR as well as Paste Magazine, Time Magazine,Washington Post, Rolling Stone Germany, Q Magazine, Exclaim!, MOJO, Uncut, Brooklyn Vegan and more.
Barr spent decades developing his visceral approach to the guitar, first with The Slip and then across three records with The Barr Brothers. The Winter Mission—the follow-up to The Fall Apartment, Barr’s 2008 solo debut—had its origins in a commission from Michael Wolk, Artistic Director at New York City’s All For One Theater. It “felt like a gift,” Barr recalls—to have a sound he could explore all by himself, away from the road, during COVID’s strange intermission.
For more than 20 years, Brad Barr has been counting the number 216. It’s a mysterious number that seems to show up everywhere—from clocks and licence plates to Ouija boards and receipts—and now it’s also sewn the fabric of his new album, like the 216 stitches on a baseball. Inspired by artists like Caetano Veloso, Mississippi Fred McDowell, D’Gary and John Frusciante, Barr set out to make music that was naked and unprocessed, but also occasionally loud—alive with a sense of wakeful intimacy. The number 216 was a constant theme. The guitarist first encountered the so-called “magic square” during a teenage acid trip; in the years since then it’s become a talisman—one of the few areas where Barr feels mystical, sensing a genuine order in the universe. These songs pay tribute to that order—from 216’s lofty mathematical and astrological properties to its function as an area-code (for Cleveland).
“ANCIENT CALENDARS is a solo guitar piece, a long-form improvisation where I explore a basic motif and progressively extend it outwards in two directions. I played it on an amplified 12-string acoustic guitar. There are no overdubs. That was the idea while writing and recording this music—one person playing music alone without any accompaniment.
As with all the songs on this record, the title ANCIENT CALENDARS is a reference to the number 216 — specifically, how in the ancient Mayan Long Count calendar, a single cycle, or “age”, consisted of 2,160 years. It’s also believed that the entire calendar of five great cycles is equal to 2,160 orbits of Jupiter. If they could think that far ahead, you’d think I’d be able to remember my wedding anniversary.” – Brad Barr
“I discovered a magic record a while back: The Fall Apartment by Brad Barr. I knew Brad was one of the fabulous Barr Brothers – but this was something altogether different – this was Brad’s extraordinary solo instrumental voice. When AFO sought distinctive music to introduce and accompany our events, I thought immediately of Brad. Turns out, Brad was bottled up with brilliant but unassembled solo guitar masterpieces, and my request was all that was needed to uncork them! So, here, thankfully, is more of Brad’s beautiful, brave, and extraordinary solo guitar.” – Michael Wolk, AFO Artistic Director