When David Letterman jokes that he wants to move to Montreal and manage your band, you know you're doing something right.
And that's exactly what happened to Montreal indie folk act the Barr Brothers late last month after they played the fireside-warm track Even the Darkness Has Arms on The Late Show.
"I would like to come to Montreal with you. Do you still live in Montreal? Paul and I will come up. We would like to manage the band," Mr. Letterman quipped. "I don't know what arrangement you have now, but we'll kill that. And Paul and I will take over."
Ever since, people have been asking if the appearance created a spike in interest in the band. "I just notice my mom bragging to everybody," the self-effacing Brad Barr jokes while enjoying a rare night at home with his seven-month-old son after a whirlwind string of tour dates in North America and Europe. "That's the main difference for me."
But Mr. Barr's mom has more than Mr. Letterman's offer to brag about. Known for their eclectic sound, which mixes everything from indie folk to R&B to West African styles, the band formed after Mr. Barr and his brother, Andrew – who had for years performed as the Slip – moved from Boston to Montreal. (Andrew famously lent his coat to a waitress outside a Montreal nightclub that had caught fire, and the two fell in love.) Since then, they have garnered raves from high-profile music publications, performed on big U.S. radio and TV networks and sold out top venues on both sides of the border.
Now they are on tour with their sophomore album, Sleeping Operator, which was recorded and mixed by engineer Ryan Freeland, winner of four Grammys, and features a colourful array of instruments, among them harp, horns, marimba, ngoni, hammered dulcimer and pedal steel.
"We're always trying to learn about the analog approach, about the wire and the wood and the skins, and trying to achieve something mysterious with those instruments," Mr. Barr said. "And before giving up and just going to a synthesizer, we want to try and get it with the natural thing – and then just make sure the story is told."
The Barr Brothers are at the Fox Cabaret on Friday (northerntickets.com).