Ryan Montbleau Band

Boarding House Park
40 French Street
Lowell, MA Venue Information
Buy Tickets Friday August 2, 2013 7:30 PM
$25 in advance / $30 day of concert
No ticket fees!

Songs for Ryan Montbleau typically need to simmer. In his 10-year career this gifted singer and his limber band have built their catalog the old-fashioned way, by introducing new songs to their live set, then bending and shaping them over dozens of performances before committing a definitive version to the hard drive.

For that and many other reasons, Montbleau's next album, For Higher, is quite literally a departure. Well-established out of his home base in the Northeast, the singer threw himself into New Orleans, where everything is slow-cooked, for a few fast-moving days - and whipped up an instant delicacy.

A few of the cuts on the new album - the playful stomp of "Deadset" or "Head Above Water," freshly peppered with horns - were already part of the Ryan Montbleau Band's ever-growing repertoire. But the majority, including four handpicked cover tunes - stone soul nuggets from Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield, the late Muscle Shoals guitarist Eddie Hinton and more - came together spontaneously, with little prepwork.

It was a feel thing, with Montbleau putting heads together with fellow music head Ben Ellman of New Orleans flag-bearers Galactic. The singer and songwriter first eased his way into the city when he was invited to contribute songs to Backatown, the breakthrough album of favorite son Trombone Shorty. That went so well, Montbleau co-wrote two more songs for Shorty's recent follow-up,
For True."

When Montbleau sent videos of himself performing the songs, Ellman, who produced Backatown, was impressed. Why not come down and do a record of your own? he asked.

Almost before he got an answer, Ellman had assembled a band of ringers - keyboard/B3 player Ivan Neville, French Quarter mainstay Anders Osborne on guitar, drummer Simon Lott, and the estimable George Porter, Jr. of the Meters and countless funky sessions on bass.

Though Montbleau has released several solo records and three albums credited to his full band, he felt like this was an all-new hurdle he'd have to clear. "My main issue was, what would I bring in for material" he recalls, sitting in the kitchen of the spacious home he and several bandmates share in an industrial city north of Boston. "I'd never done a session like that."

"Our band will 'shed songs on the road for years and then record them, and there's strength in that. But there's also strength in putting together these other badasses for a few days."
If Montbleau was initially a bit apprehensive that the sessions might represent just another paycheck for his sidemen, he quickly learned otherwise. "Every single person, kind of to my amazement, got into it," he says. "They listened to every playback, and they were high-fiving each other. They were great."

Unlike Montbleau's previous recordings, which showcase his own maturing songcraft, the new album draws a lot of its depth and beauty from its cover songs. Perfectly titled is the beatific "Sweet, Nice and High," originally recorded by the forgotten soul supergroup Rhinoceros. On the other end of the moodswing, Mayfield's "Here But I'm Gone," written and recorded for the great singer's last album, after the accident that left him paralyzed, is a shimmering testament to human frailty.

"Sometimes I feel like there are so many songs - who the hell needs another song" Montbleau asks. But then he'll discover another new inspiration -sitting at the kitchen table, there's a vinyl copy of an old Billy Preston album propped on the windowsill behind him - and another lyric or melody will come to him like a visitation. And when the song becomes a reality, and the crowds begin to sing it back to him, well, that's what it's all about.

At 34, he's a late-bloomer who's right on time. Montbleau didn't start singing and playing guitar in earnest until he was in college, at Villanova. Later, working at the House of Blues in Boston, he began playing solo sets there as a warmup act. His band - there's now six of them - came together naturally, over time, planting strong roots in coffee shops, folk venues and rock clubs before converting audiences on an outdoor festival circuit that now stretches across the country. Through word of mouth and repeat visits, the band has built a devoted following from the Northeast to Chicago, Seattle and Austin.

Far from feeling left out of the New Orleans sessions, his band is already feeding hungrily on the arrangements from the new album in their live sets. "We've done a good job staying in one direction, just moving forward," says the singer. "We all just really want to get better. If we just keep it together, good stuff is gonna continue to happen."

When the crowds are dancing, the band digs deeper in the pocket. But Montbleau, who still performs solo, is constantly looking to strike a balance between the contagious energy of moving bodies and making a closer connection.

"You can still dance and have a good time," he says of his fast-spreading fan base, "but I love when you listen."

The band consists of Ryan Montbleau, guitar, lead vocals; Jason Cohen, keys; Lyle Brewer, lead guitar; Matt Giannaros, bass, vocals; James Cohen, drums; and Yahuba, percussion, vocals.

Find more info at: ryanmontbleauband.com

The Brew opens the show!

The Brew is an American independent rock band founded in the small town of Amesbury, Massachusetts by four friends from high school. Brothers Chris and Joe Plante joined guitarist Dave Drouin and drummer Kelly Kane in 2002. Kane left the band in 2012 and was replaced by longtime fan and drummer Aaron Zaroulis.

The Brew began to record and release some of their early material in 2003, featuring songs like "About to Rain" and "Gypsy Moon." While these recordings find the band still growing and honing their sound, one can clearly hear where The Brew was headed: they deliver both introspective, delicate breaks and explosive power, while featuring honest, poetic lyrics and lush, four-part harmonies.

In an interview with Relix magazine in 2011, The Brew announced it would be releasing a triple-record project called 'Triptych', beginning with the November release of 'A Garden in the Snow'. This leadoff album provided the band with the single "When Darkness Comes,"

'Triptych's' second album, 'Light From Below', was released in December 2011, and has gained additional airplay on Sirius XM, with songs including "Birds on the Window" and The Brew's starkly uptempo version of Led Zepplin's "Going to California." This recording features the band's energetic live playing backed by now-longtime friend and collaborator Bobby Read's huge horn sections.

The third and most anticipated record, 'Hard Enough To Break', was released on August 31, 2012, when The Brew headlined the prestigious Lowell Summer Music Series along with such artists as Ziggy Marley, K.D. Lang, and John Mayall.

Find more info at: www.thebrew.biz

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