I shook hands with McDonald’s. I even gave him my card. Michael McDonald was the tour manager for the Dave Matthews Band before he co-founded ATO Records, whose roster includes David Gray, John Mayer & Ray Lamontagne. Ray who? Yeah, not for long my friends, not for long. You heard it here.
I met Ray Lamontagne last night, even put my arm around him to pose for the absolute worst picture I’ve ever had taken of me in my whole life. Even worse than when I was fat and in a bathing suit. Lamontagne is shy in a modest eremite way. A lone wolf who has definitely spent some time in the forest, Lamontagne is kind and genuine, not aloof and distant. I try to tell him, tell him everything. Instead, we shake hands and stare. “I am so moved by you.” Is all I remember actually saying aloud.
He shakes my hand back with both his hands, offering a humble and heartfelt, “Wow. Thank you. Thank you so much. That really means a lot to me.”
Then, thank god, Chris is with me and brilliantly offers up, “Yeah, man, you have to hurry up and get famous, so I can steal your music off Kaaza.” Of course the selfish evil girl in me wants him to always stay unknown so I can have him all to myself, in small venues for $10.00. Though, even I hope the world is changed and touched by his music as I was.
“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” (Elvis Costello, I believe) You just have to listen (look for 3 clips at bottom of his site). Like you, the audience at the Mercury Lounge stumbled upon a treasure. At the Mercury, no one really knows who she’s coming to see, not really. Three bands perform one-hour sets, one after the other, like lifesavers rolling onto a table. Rosavelt opens to an audience who has come to see them. This audience has no idea what they’re in for. Rosavelt was snappy with great stage presence, but this ain’t about them… as charming as they were.
It’s about music slinging arrows of soul into your heart… His honey voice is still dripping in me. I know, you think I’m crazy, good crazy, but crazy. I believe we’re all wired differently, and some people experience things more deeply than others. Love, not appreciation, of music might just be part of your wiring, like can you move your ears or curl your tongue. Some of us are just more porous; I was just built that way. If you want a glimpse of what it’s like to feel so extraordinarily, listen to Lamontagne. He’s the opposite of a fickle mistress. His music has a purpose and has made some decisions. It is now a fixture in my rich inner world, like water or air.
It’s just him and his acoustic guitar up there. You think a drummer might show up, or someone with a bass. Only a beat as he takes the measure of his reaction to the clumps of crowd, then you hear it…that voice. Your soul becomes his amp… you’re so plugged in. You feel more alive than ever before, someone immersed you in a bucket of cold water. You’re so fcuking alive.
Lamontagne is the ruth of soul and balm of tenderness. He’s a storyteller, and his story is melancholy and compassion peppered with introspection, pulled through the chambers of his harmonica and strummed in each chord of his strings. Then, the fidgeting stops, someone hit a pause button on the roused specters, we’re frozen, our inner monologues are knocked down. Did that just happen? You’re bullied into submission; your wits are on the wall. You can’t believe you’re here, witnessing this act, in this space, sharing his air. You think you feel blessed, but you’re not quite sure if you feel anything. There’s no room for you to feel with him in the room using it all up. So you’re surprised when you feel a tear coat your face. I was right. Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. It was one of the most amazing and evocative nights of my life.