If you missed it, The Ryan Montbleau Band played a jaw-dropping set at Don Quixote’s on Oct. 28. But for a group that once played an average of 200 gigs a year, what else would you expect? “We’re sort of always on the road,” Montbleau admits. “I almost don’t even know what it’s like to be off.”
The six-piece from Boston, which formed in 2006, has since backed off the manic touring of its youth, playing a mere 160 dates a year now. Delivering a genre-bending soul, alt-country, reggae mash-up with jam band energy, RMB has evolved into a musical snail carrying its home on its back. “It’s been basically the same guys for eight years. I think we have some semblance of a family on the road,” Montbleau says. “We have to live with each other.”
That brotherly bond is evident in the band’s interactions onstage. Tight and in the pocket, the band’s trance-like builds are led with a smirk; solos are opened with a glance. But it’s Montbleau’s voice at the helm that matches the group’s synergy and surpasses it.
With laser-precise pipes, the man’s got more soul than a white boy should have. “75 and Sunny” and “Honeymoon Eyes” showcased his voice best, but it was Montbleau’s stripped-down cover of Paul Simon’s “Duncan” that wooed the crowd.
On a whirlwind of a tour—the band was in San Francisco the day before they hit Don Quixote’s, and in Los Angeles the day after—what keeps the band energized is connecting with their myriad audiences night after night. “Lately I’m really trying to be aware of what’s going on out there, and it’s making me feel more confident as a performer,” explains Montbleau. “I feel like I’m finding my feet under me.”
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