This morning’s run almost never happened. The plan was to get up early (6:00am) and slip in about 45-50 minutes out on the road before heading to work. Thing is, at 5:00am it was teeming down with rain so I said, ‘fuck that‘ and turned off my alarm and headed back to bed.
Unfortunately, no one informed Oscar the cat of this change of plans and at 6:00am he was still expecting his breakfast and after being pawed at for a few minutes I reluctantly got up to feed him (as well as his sister Tina who lets him do all the dirty work, of course) and, low and behold, no rain. Crap. So figuring that since I was up anyway, I’d proceed with the plan as originally intended. Likewise, I had something that I was especially excited to listen to as well, namely the ‘Sleeping Operator‘ album by The Barr Brothers.
The Barr Brothers, Andrew and Brad, were formally of the improv-based trio The Slip (of which, I was a huge fan) hailing from Boston, MA. At the conclusion of a show in Montreal in 2003 at Le Swimming a fire broke out in the sound booth, setting off fire alarms the moment the encore ended causing the whole bar to be evacuated. When everyone was forced out onto the street, Andrew met a native Montrealer after offering her his coat. That chance encounter led to a relationship which created a bond between the brothers and the city. One year later, Andrew and Brad Barr relocated to Montreal and became neighbors with harpist Sarah Page. Along with Andres Vial, they formed The Barr Brothers.
You could best describe the band I suppose as “alternative folk”, which utilizes a bizarre mix of instruments to create an ethereal feel to their music. There’s a xylophone through the the opening track into ‘Love Ain’t Enough‘ (my favorite song on the album), a soaring welcome that uses a three-note progression like a back-and-forth rallying call. And there’s other interesting stuff as well, like the African stringed instrument the ‘ngoni’ which fits right in alongside bongos, and a fan-made instrument called a “cardboardium” which is just as entertaining as an upright bass, a hammered dulcimer, pedal steel, harp, and the list goes on. The blues number ‘Half Crazy‘ which, for the record, helped me maintain a decent pace back into the sleepy downtown core, sees the band dropping twangy guitar lines over a series of hand-claps and a metallic, grungy bass.
‘Sleeping Operator’ shaved an original 40 songs down to 13, many of which saw the help of Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, Patrick Watson’s band, and members of The Luyas. The end result is a mix of African influences and devilish American folk for dancing around the campfire or, as in my case, keeping my pace and heart rate to a steady 70-75% of my max effort – something I haven’t done regularly in a while. And then it all wraps up with a bedtime story ‘The Bear at the Window‘, which was perfect for a brief warm down walk around the block after a pretty solid 8k tempo run.
PB: 3rd best effort for the ‘Bernard> Ridge Rd. Tempo‘ Strava segment (9:28)