In Rock, there is truth to the old adage that you’re known by the company you keep. A good many artists’ careers have been fast-tracked merely by virtue of opening shows for bigger artists whose audiences helped vault them to the next level. The latest example of this musical largesse is the Ryan Montbleau Band, a Boston-area unit that's built a substantial and loyal audience over the past year by opening and being the backing band for revered singer/songwriter Martin Sexton, who in turn took them out on his opening slots for the Dave Matthews Band.
In a further expansion of the band’s audience, Montbleau wrote the single “Something Beautiful” and co-wrote the song “One Night Only” for Backatown, the thumping major label debut from Trombone Shorty.
Montbleau and his band have come up on the Jam circuit, veering from Folk to Funk to Country to Reggae to Prog at the drop of a pick, sometimes within the scope of a single song, a variety that's clearly evident on RMB’s third album, Heavy on the Vine, produced by Sexton. In less capable hands, RMB’s gumbo of styles would be a confusing sonic cross-current but Montbleau’s unwavering presence in the eye of their musical hurricane is the focal point that keeps the band from flying off in too many simultaneous directions.
Take Heavy on the Vine’s lead track, “Slippery Road” — starting with acoustic Folk/Gospel gentility, Montbleau takes about 80 seconds to shuffle into Jason Mraz mode, with a little Funkpoparoll to keep heads bobbing until the end. Where to go from there? How about the funky Reggae party of “Songbird,” the Bobby Bare Jr.-channels-Johnny Cash spirit of “I Can’t Wait” and the Church of Funk choir practice of “Fix Your Wings.” And you’re only four songs deep.
Climb on board the Ryan Montbleau Band’s Jamericana glory train, You’ll move and be moved.
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.)