dancing about architecture

View more pics from the night >>

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. 



  1. i really like this guy. thanks for the tip. and isn't mcdonald hot? i used to work for dmb and thought he was so fine. and my brother plays on the album of rachel yamagato who will join ray in a few weeks. so people, go out and see them.

  2. Stumbling upon an unknown musical treasure is like no other feeling. Instead of having the American Idol crap shoved down your throats, find real talent that sings from the heart for an open tab is what its about. Only in NYC on any given night can you go and hear soul stirring music. I've had many discovery nights like yours where i'm in awe, yet my limited writing skills dont allow me to express myself in a way as you do. The 40 second clips on his website just aint doing justice, as he truely has an old school voice. This aint FOX, its one of the best music rooms in the city.
    Thanx for the review, lets see what is on my calender for June 8th..

  3. Gee… sorry to burst bubbles, but it seems in your Worst Photo Ever, Ray's not looking at your face. Otherwise, he might be a good musician, when you're not distracting him!

  4. i came across your site while looking for information on ray lamontagne. your blog entry about his show is phenomenal and so, SO accurate. i saw him play for the first time this past weekend. i had heard his music before and i knew exactly what i was in for…but i was still completely blown away.
    you are a very talented writer!

  5. That write up on Ray was absolutely wonderful…I cannot wait to see him live! It's been a long time since an artist has hit me like that, and it's so cool to read about how he's affected other people.

    I found some full length mp3s of his online and I posted the links here
    …feel free to grab them. I cannot wait until his disc comes out! I have more in my AIM getfile as well, help yourself! :o)

    AIM: YoDaCoolest


  6. I am consumed by his music and I only started listening a few days ago. I downloaded his CD about 6 this morning. Wow . Seein him live this thursday – I don't know if I my nervous system can take it. There's nothing like the first time you see someone like this LIVE.

  7. Your write up on Ray LaMontagne was beautiful. I have been a part of his grassroots movement, spreading the word about the existence of this beautiful soul, since I stumbled upon him by accident five years ago. I have always felt that he is beyond what words can describe, but you did a great job and it brings tears to my eyes to see that so many other people cherish him as much as I do.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.