Ray LaMontange (2/11/05)

I was quite excited about this show... Ray LaMontagne's "Trouble" was one of the rare CD's that strike you the first time you listen to it. Many of my all time favorite albums have taken months of listening to fully appreciate, but not this one. Amazing. His album is rich, soulful, and a bit rough around the edges, but they are all the right edges. His CD also has great album art, and there's a lot to say about that. The album first caught the attention of my friend Leo on a listening station at Borders, which I do have to give kudos to, as I have found many great new artists on their listening stations.
Enjoying his music for several weeks, I experienced a joy that is should be experienced more often. He was coming to Cleveland to the Beachland Ballroom ! There's nothing better than enjoying a great CD for a couple weeks and then having that artist come and perform locally. The night was set. Though I tried to get many others to attend, it ended up being just Leo and myself. We went to the show early to get some food and ended up sitting in the Tavern (I highly recommend eating at the Beachland, get their burrito when it's offered). Not sure what the hold up was, but our food took so long that we ended up missing Johnathan Rice who opened the show. I can't say I felt rushed as I wasn't terribly excited from listening to the music on his website.

Ray entered the stage with as little fan fare as I have ever seen. On stage with him was Chris Thomas on stand up bass. Ray had a seat and started right into the music. He sounded great, as I would have expected, but what stood out was the uneasyness on stage. He mostly looked to the ground and often pulled his hair to his eyes. Several times he would break out a harmonica, along with having a bass on stage, made for a great mix of instruments that complemented every song he played. He also littered new songs throughout the set, including one he wrote in 15 minutes back stage on Johnathan Rice's guitar. At one point he broke into a loud rant-of-sorts, which roused the crowd, but then seemed to make him even more uncomfortable. With his raspy voice, he was had a sense of longing and passion.

At one point someone shouted out, asking how he was doing. "Baked" he replied. "Just a little... It is true what they say about Cleveland having great weed." That explained plenty.

He ended the set just as awkwardly as he had started. Set his guitar down and walked to the front of the stage to start signing autographs. Leo went for more beers and I grabbed a promo poster off the wall and waited in line for an autograph. I almost gave up, as the people in front of me felt the need to hang out with him as if they were best friends. Leo convinced me to stay and I have to say that I'm thankful. Not because I was able to get his autograph and thank him for coming to Cleveland, but because I got to hear something I couldn't believe. Someone was telling Ray how he listens to lots of music, which his dog normally pays no attention to, but with Ray's music, the dog just *loves* it. He told Ray that his music transcended humans. Cleveland *must* have great weed.

Posted: Wed - February 16, 2005 at 01:26 PM           |