*SOLD OUT* Ryan Montbleau (Solo)

Sat. Feb 9, 2019 at 8:00pm EST
All Ages
All Ages
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$29 Advance | $32 Day of Show
Doors open at 7pm. Ali McGuirk opens the show at 8pm!


In 2005, Ryan Montbleau and his band headed into Applehead Recording in Saugerties, New York, to cut their debut album. With nothing more than ambition and a relentless work ethic to their names, they bootstrapped the whole thing, maxing out credit cards to fund it themselves and launch their careers from the ground up. Twelve years, eleven records, thousands of shows, and 60 million Spotify streams later, Montbleau returned to the studio for a special one-night-only concert that would become the latest entry in his venerable catalog: ‘Woodstock Sessions.’


For his performance that night, Montbleau was backed not by his usual touring band, but by the acclaimed Boston duo Tall Heights (cellist Paul Wright and guitarist Tim Harrington). The collaboration yielded fresh perspective on Montbleau’s catalog, fleshing out his stripped-down acoustic performances with gorgeous vocal blends and elegant instrumental arrangements. Soulful and spontaneous, the set showcased the magic that can happen when three consummate musicians surrender themselves to the songs, when a trio of gifted artists follow their instincts to craft a whole far greater than the sum of its parts.


“Tall Heights’ sound just naturally wraps around mine in a way that’s really unique,” says Montbleau. “Their harmonies and tones are so dialed in with each other, and their voices gel around mine perfectly. When we get together, something special tends to happen.”


Recorded in front of an intimate audience, the resulting collection combines the pristine audio quality of a studio record with the contagious energy of a live album, an ideal fit for Montbleau’s intimate, honest lyrics and spirited, dynamic delivery. The unusual setting pushed him to step outside his comfort zone and take bold artistic risks, assembling a setlist that was equal parts reimagined retrospective and trial-by-fire as he mixed stripped-down versions of songs from throughout his career with brand new tracks recorded for the first time that night. “Less is more” was the mantra, and while Montbleau may be best known for his barn-burning full-band shows, he’s no stranger to the raw acoustic setting.


“I’ve been touring solo about half the year lately, and my last release was a solo record where I really stripped the songs down to their bare bones,” says Montbleau. “I felt like those were some of the best songs I’ve written in my entire life, and this record is a perfect continuation of that. The music’s fleshed out a little bit more, but at its essence, it’s still me just pouring my heart out.”


The desire for connection, for a true human bond, is a recurring theme in Montbleau’s writing. The bittersweet “Our Own Place” searches for a home that’s perpetually just out of reach, while the brooding “Ships In The Night” ruminates on our polarized political climate, and the heartfelt “The Country and The Town” (a song commissioned by PBS in Montbleau’s newly-adopted home of Vermont) celebrates the power of community. Montbleau’s live shows are nothing if not communal affairs, and the confessional “Help Me” reaches out a helping hand out for anyone struggling through hard times.



About the opener, Ali McGuirk:


Ali McGuirk has made a career of captivating audiences with her powerful, buttery voice and heartfelt songwriting. Her earliest years as a performer were spent earning residencies across 4 continents, from Santorini to Hong Kong.


In 2016, she was recognized by the Boston Globe as an "artist to hear," along with Lake Street Dive, Haim and other notable names. Shortly thereafter, she released her debut, self-titled EP and has been riding that momentum ever since.


In November 2017, she released her first full-length album, "Slow Burn," which saw her working with an eclectic mix of artists, including Boston guitar legend Jeffrey Lockhart (Lettuce, D'angelo, Lalah Hathaway), Brandon Mayes (Kendrick Lamar, Soulja Boy), DeShawn D’Vibes Alexander (Marcus King, Eric Krasno) and Cilla Bonnie (Air Traffic Controller).


"Slow Burn" was named on multiple year-end lists, including Boston rock critic Steve Morse's Top Ten Albums of 2017, and contributed to Ali’s current total of 7 Boston Music Award nominations.


At the 2018 Boston Music Awards, Ali won Blues Artist of the Year and Live Residency of the Year for her monthly First Fridays at Bull McCabe’s Pub. Find Ali playing most regularly around Cambridge and Somerville or check her schedule to see when she’ll be coming to a city near you.


Find "Slow Burn" streaming on all online platforms.

Ryan Montbleau

Ryan Montbleau has been an acclaimed singer, songwriter, and bandleader for more than a decade, but with his new album I WAS JUST LEAVING, the New England-based artist has truly arrived. Contemplative and richly emotive, the album offers a glimpse into the often-lonesome life of the relentlessly traveling troubadour, a strikingly single-minded existence too often clouded by the blur of constant motion. Recorded at New Orleans’ Esplanade Studios over four days in January 2016 with producer Anders Osborne and engineer/mixer Mark Howard (known for his work with such icons as Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Neil Young, and U2), the album marks Montbleau’s first full length release in the wake of a series of seismic personal shifts. Songs like “Bright Side” and the touching title track reveal a uniquely blessed artist who has truly found his voice, his gift for melody and craft fused with vision and a remarkably open-armed approach.

“There’s no part of this record that I am unsure of,” Montbleau says. “All the juice of the last fifteen years is in there. My humanity and my heart are on this record.”

Montbleau has been among America’s finest songwriters and performers, earning national attention and a fervent fan following with songs like “75 and Sunny” and his breakthrough cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” the latter a Spotify smash with total streams now in excess of 28 million.

After twelve years on the road Montbleau found himself at a crossroads in 2016. “Within a very short time, my world got flipped around. My partner was gone, my band of ten years was gone, my friends were all far away. The one thing I had was a career, because it turns out that was all I had worked on. When the dust settled, I realized I didn’t really have much of a home life.”

“I thought all along that I had been building a home but it turned out I was just leaving. That’s where the title of the song and the record came from. So many raw feelings were just aching through me at that point Eventually they vibrated out through the guitar, through singing. I had to sing these songs.”

An artist’s artist, Montbleau has collaborated with such diverse performers as Martin Sexton, Trombone Shorty, and Galactic. His association with Anders Osborne extends back to 2012 when the New Orleans-based singer/songwriter/guitarist played on Ryan’s Ben Ellman-produced FOR HIGHER alongside such fellow Big Easy icons as Ivan Neville and The Meters’ George Porter, Jr. Two years later, Anders and Ryan reconnected on the road backstage at a festival. The seeds were planted for a collaboration.

Montbleau’s guitar playing and vocals are both front and center on I WAS JUST LEAVING, with Osborne accompanying on drums, percussion, bass, guitar, and harmonica, each used simply and sparsely for maximum effect. Osborne and Howard built upon that same goal, creating space and capturing rawness by utilizing as many early takes as possible.

“Bright Side,” the album’s first single, is perhaps the song most emblematic of Montbleau’s growth as both a human being and artist. At once finely etched and strikingly direct, “Bright Side” is an ideal distillation of his approach to songwriting, balancing multiple shades of emotional nuance with a fearless, unfettered sentimentality that ultimately leads to a greater truth.

I WAS JUST LEAVING marks a singular milestone for Ryan Montbleau, the moment in which this exceptional singer, songwriter, and performer has blossomed into a fully matured artist.

“I’ve been planting these seeds for so long and it has all led up to this moment. It feels like finally the fruits of all my efforts are coming out. I’m still working hard but there’s an ease to what’s happening. I have a career that I’ve built, that I’ve earned. Now what’s fun is putting out the best music I can and seeing what happens.”

Ali McGuirk

"A soul singer who evokes comparisons to Amy Winehouse but rocks even harder."

- Steve Morse, The Boston Globe

"When she opens her mouth, people stop and take notice, captivated by her swooping, honeyed voice."

-Paul Robicheau, The Improper Bostonian


"A vocal powerhouse and smart songwriter."

- Jed Gottlieb, The Boston Herald

"One of the rising stars on the local scene... performing a set of tunes that are uniquely hers - soul drenched, jazz inspired, and freely delivered with an ease that belies her young age."

- Billy Beard, Session Americana

"Ali brings to the stage a refreshing comfort and grace uncommon in Boston. It’s as though she and the stage are old friends who share intimate jokes."

- K. Winslow Smith, Grouptones

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Narrows Center for the Arts 16 Anawan Street
Fall River, MA 02721
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