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Fri, Jul 26

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The NEW Listening Booth

Ryan Montbleau

A relentless road warrior and masterful wordsmith, Ryan Montbleau has spent the better part of thirty years cultivating a devoted audience on the strength of his ecstatic live shows and exhilarating sonic versatility.

Ryan Montbleau
Ryan Montbleau

Time & Location

Jul 26, 2024, 7:00 PM – 9:30 PM

The NEW Listening Booth, 18388 Coastal Hwy #11, Lewes, DE 19958, USA

About The Event

Ryan Montbleau is nervous, but he’s still got hope.

“If the 1930s was The Great Depression, then I feel like this period we’re living through now is The Great Anxiety,” he muses. “Everybody’s stressed, everybody’s worried, everybody’s facing impossible decisions. But at the end of the day, you’ve still got to find some sliver of optimism that keeps you going, some spark of glory amidst all the darkness.”

It’s that indefatigable optimism that fuels Montbleau’s rousing new album, We Did Alright. Recorded in a series of freewheeling, spontaneous sessions with his new all-star band, the collection finds Montbleau exploring the full spectrum of his eclectic influences, blurring the lines between folk and rock, funk and soul, hip-hop and reggae, all with a preternatural ease that belies the intensely focused craftsmanship behind it. The songs are sprawling and unpredictable here, grappling with a modern world perpetually teetering on the edge of chaos. The performances, meanwhile, insist on joy and communion in the face of it all, pairing danceable grooves with euphoric melodies and hooks. The result is an honest, emotionally vulnerable reckoning with the times from an artist willing to embrace ambiguity and nuance in an age of reactionary intransigence. It’s a bittersweet work of profound catharsis, one that acknowledges the inevitability of pain and uncertainty while at the same time celebrating our limitless capacity for growth and love.

“I have so much to be thankful for, even as I look around and see the world burning,” Montbleau reflects. “It can be hard to reconcile those two realities sometimes, but all you can do is put your best foot forward and try to be kind and caring and look out for each other, because all those little things you do are the glue that holds this world together.”  

Montbleau’s songwriting has been deeply attuned into the little things since the early 2000’s, when he first got his start performing around his native Massachusetts. In the decades that followed, he’d go on to collaborate with Trombone Shorty, Galactic, Steel Pulse, Tall Heights, Martin Sexton, Anders Osborne, and George Porter, Jr., among others;  share bills with the likes of Tedeschi Trucks Band, Ani DiFranco, Todd Snider, The Wood Brothers, Rodrigo y Gabriela, The Revivalists, and Mavis Staples; and rack up more than 150 million streams on Spotify alone. NPR’s Mountain Stage compared his “eloquent, soulful songwriting” to Bill Withers and James Taylor, while Relix celebrated his “poetic Americana,” and The Boston Herald raved that “he’s made a career of confident, danceable positivity.” 

A relentless road warrior known for his ecstatic live show, Montbleau spent much of the last ten years performing on his own or with a rotating cast of players backing him, and while the setup offered a substantial degree of freedom, it also left him longing for the kind of intuitive, soul-feeding collaboration that can only come with being in a band.

“I’d been living in Burlington, VT, for a while, and I figured it was time to find some people who lived nearby to form a more consistent lineup,” Montbleau explains. “What I ended up with was a drummer in North Carolina, a guitarist in Ohio, a keyboard player in Connecticut, and a bass player in Massachusetts. But from the minute we started playing together, the chemistry was just so right that the distance didn’t matter. We knew we had something special on our hands and we had to find a way to keep it going.”

The absolutely stacked lineup—drummer Michelangelo Carubba and guitarist Craig Brodhead (Turkuaz, Jerry Harrison’s Remain In Light, Cool Cool Cool), keyboardist Paulie Philippone (West End Blend, Big Mean Sound Machine, Kat Wright), and longtime Montbleau bassist Marc Friedman (The Slip)—opened up whole new sonic worlds for Montbleau, who not only invited the band to help flesh out his rough demos, but often set them loose to conjure up beats and instrumental beds he could later write to.

“I still love sitting down and writing on an acoustic guitar,” he explains, “but these guys just generated so much energy and electricity. The sessions brought together all the different genres I grew up on.”

Take a listen to lead single “Break The Silence” and you’ll hear exactly what Montbleau means. The song’s production tips its cap to ’90s hip-hop, with a hypnotic breakbeat and ghostly keyboards, but the lyrics are distinctly modern, drawing on funk, reggae, rock, and folk traditions as they search for the righteous path in a time of bitter division and widespread mistrust. “Everything's a battle and a hassle and drag / And the world's full of matches and oily rags,” Montbleau ruminates in an almost spoken word delivery. “Shine too brightly and it all might combust / But the world gets darker if you dim your light too much.”

“I feel like my job as an artist has always been to connect with people and stir something in them,” he explains. “I’m not here to lecture anybody or tell them how to live their lives; I’m just trying to make sense of things in my own mind, and hopefully that helps anyone else in the same boat feel seen and comfortable enough to talk about the issues we’re all facing, because dialogue is the first step towards any solution.”

The jittery “Nervous” comes to terms with living on edge, facing insecurity and self-doubt head-on, while the tender “Eve and Adam” longs for a simplicity mankind will never get back (if it ever even existed), and the entrancing “Fine Lines” struggles to stay afloat in a sea of grey areas. “Stay awake in every instance,” he reminds himself as much as anyone else, “And understand the difference / Between laziness and rest / Between status and success / Between support and servitude / Between service and suffering / Between nervous and afraid / Between getting loved and getting laid / Between the sacred and the profane / Between the arteries and the veins / Our hearts pump blood / Eight different kinds / But there is only One Love… / And a lot of fine lines.”

“There’s so much nuance to navigate these days,” Montbleau explains. “Everybody wants things to be black or white, good or bad, right or wrong, but it’s rarely that simple.”

It’s a notion Montbleau wrestles with throughout the record, meditating on the wide range of contradictions that make up our daily lives. The folky “Live In A Town” explores the differences between country and city life, while the tongue-in-cheek “Closer To God” playfully toys with the gap between our intentions and our actions, and the intoxicating “We Did Alright” finds a modicum of peace in accepting that our best is all we can ever really do.

“It’s okay to celebrate the little victories when they happen,” Montbleau concludes. “We still have a lot of work to do, and you can’t just plug your ears and pretend everything’s fine, but at the same time, you’re never going to make it through this life if you can’t appreciate the good moments, too.”

In the end, that recognition is what We Did Alright is all about. “What can I do from my tiny little page?” Montbleau asks in perhaps the album’s most pivotal revelation. “Jump in the van and then jump on a stage / Jump up and down for the boys and the girls / I came to have a good time without ignoring the world.”

Watch Ryan -----------> https://youtu.be/Ow_o_Ylg5mY?si=rFboXpc4zCbwLB4D

Tickets

  • General Admission

    General admission seats can be picked the day of the show

    From $15.00 to $35.00

    On Sale

    • $35.00
      +$0.88 service fee
    • $15.00
      +$0.38 service fee
  • VIP

    Ticket includes discount at the bar, the ability to pick your seat ahead of time and a signed poster by the artist

    $55.00
    +$1.38 service fee

    On Sale

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Refund Policy

Please note that all ticket purchases are final and there are no refunds. In the event that an event is cancelled or rescheduled, we will provide you with a full refund. If you are unable to attend an event, we encourage you to give your tickets to a friend or family member who can enjoy the experience in your place.

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