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The Ryan Montbleau Band is a local group from in and around the North Shore area, whose commitment to one another runs deep. The band came to the WERS studio and exuded the same cool feeling that ties together all of lead singer Ryan Montbleau’s solo albums and those produced as a band as well.
Montbleau admitted that choosing which three songs to play for their session was “a challenge for us, because we never have that one song when we’re like ‘Oh! This is our screaming single’” He continued to explain that it’s quite rare for him to get to play on the radio with a “nice set up” with a full, six-piece band.
They ended up deciding on two songs from Montbleau’s latest solo album, For Higher, and a track from the previous group-effort album, Heavy on the Vine. They began with “Fix Your Wings”, a song from the older of the two records. It was a great opener, as it served to liven up the band and set the tone. Ryan has a friendly voice that finds strength in the bongos, keyboard, guitar and bass that make up the lively instrumental backing. He also played a bit of tambourine and danced as well, which began to make the studio seem like a party. The song and the energy were further enhanced by some call and response between Ryan and the rest of the band, creating an ecstatic gospel feel by the song’s conclusion.
The next two were covers, featured on For Higher: a Bill Withers tune, “Heartbreak Road” and a smoother take on Eddie Hinton’s “Yeah Man”. The former was a great slower tune that showcased Ryan Montbleau’s smooth, soulful voice. As the keyboard opened up “Heartbreak Road”, Montbleau approached the mic and called out to “anybody who’s ever had their heartbroken” and then plunged in and began. “Wonder who is out there waiting for me/ at the end of heartbreak road,” the song goes, “Hope that she’ll be tender/ someone I can know”. The rendition was fresh and easy going, but still echoed very clearly with the influence of the 60s/70s blues scene.
A testament to the group’s bond is the ability to work together in a live setting – especially after not being the original members with which Montbleau recorded the album. Instead, he took a trip down to the Big Easy – New Orleans. He had the opportunity to work with some local musicians, which he claimed had the biggest effect on the album; “It was just great for me to be put in a really calm place and then have those goes embrace me when I came in… To me it’s a record I made in New Orleans, but it’s not necessarily New Orleans music. Only in that it’s those people”.
He was able to use this same inspiration back home, because of the group’s history and understanding of each other; most of the band has worked together for the better part of ten years, with the exception of guitarist Lyle Brewer, who has been a member for two. They were able to capture this vision and adapt it for their own purposes, which happen to currently focus around touring across the United States. They have plans to put more music out in 2013, but for now, they’re happy to be doing their own thing, as friends and as a band.