Moving to Freedom, .Org(on)

Ryan Montbleau at the Fitzgerald Theater

Martin was awesome. He almost lived up to my impossible expectations for seeing him live.

But first, let’s talk about the opening act: Ryan Montbleau. I had never heard of him before learning that he was opening on this tour. He normally plays with a band but last night performed solo in keeping with the spirit of Martin’s “Solo” tour. I had downloaded a few freebies from his web site and liked what I heard, so was looking forward to seeing him also.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a music reviewer’s vocabulary and training, so I can’t say something like, “he is evocative of the classic period of American folk music in a way that the neofolkists never fully understood,” but I can say he was GOOD. You can see and hear for yourself in my first attempt at a blurry and muffled YouTube upload that fails to capture any nuance of the actual experience:

Ryan Montbleau: It’s All Been Done Before

Note that this is a thoroughly unauthorized bootleg. I thought Martin had a fairly liberal recording policy, but on review today, not so much. Still, I doubt that he or Ryan mind if fans share stuff like this. I took this video from my Canon point-and-shoot, and after the song an usher came down to tell me no cameras were allowed. He was pleasant enough about it and I acted suitably reprimanded as I shoved the camera back in my pocket, but come on. Why should this be a problem? Culture must be free.

He gained at least two new fans with his performance. Me, and my old, good friend Jeff. Jeff is an insanely good guitar player, and he was impressed with Ryan’s playing, so along with my uneducated ears you can take it on advice from a musical practitioner that this guy is worth a listen.

I really enjoyed the show. He’s got a great voice, and seemed humble and likable. It’s a dream come true to tour with Martin, he said, with one of the greatest things being that he gets to see Martin Sexton play every night. And he’s funny, which you can get a sense of from his web site and from the live CD mentioned below.

I was thinking about buying one of his albums on the way out, and on seeing Ryan personally manning the merchandise counter, I headed right over, buying his latest, Patience on Friday, and a double album of a performance at Club Passim in Cambridge, MA. He signed one of the Club Passim CDs for me. I wonder what it must be like, getting a boost like this for your career. People were snapping up merchandise at a brisk pace. Cash was flowing over the counter and I detected a hint of giddiness when he said at one point, “Money money money.” Imagine making money for doing something you love and believe in. Ryan is a sincere and talented artist. It makes me glad to see things working out for him, and happy to support his work. I’ll be looking for his next Twin Cities concert.