, Salem, MA


May 16, 2013

Ryan's blues

Peabody native Ryan Montbleau returns to his roots at Me&Thee

The typical Ryan Montbleau song features crisp vocals, jaunty rhythms and thoughtful lyrics.

But there’s nothing typical about Ryan Montbleau’s songs, which leave even their composer searching for comparisons.

“I still have trouble describing us to people,” said Montbleau, 35, a Peabody native who will play at Me&Thee tomorrow night, after opening duo Tall Heights. “We do a lot of things that just come naturally to us.”

For the last 10 years that has included releasing eight albums, while playing in coffeeshops and rock clubs with five other Boston-based musicians in the Ryan Montbleau Band.

The group is also a mainstay at a number of festivals, including the Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport, Conn., which this year will feature acts like The Black Crowes, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band.

Montbleau’s band reached the top of the festival circuit when they were invited to this summer’s Bonnaroo, a four-day event in Tennessee that draws 80,000 people and features the biggest names in popular music.

But Montbleau still enjoys the intimate settings in clubs like Me&Thee Coffeehouse in Marblehead, which take him back to his roots in solo, acoustic performance.

“I get back to doing these things; that’s how I started,” he said. “It’s a different kind of pressure. If you have five guys playing with you, if you make a mistake on guitar, no one notices. (Playing solo) it gets stripped down, and you are your own band.”

While that puts extra focus on the performer, it can also reward the audience with musical nuances that would be lost in a different setting.

“You really need a listening environment to work,” Montbleau said. “It lends itself to drawing people in, as opposed to beating them over the head with a beat. That’s at the core of me.”

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