May 19, 2005

Ray LaMontagne

Ray LaMontagne is a thirty one year-old who is poised on the cusp of... recognition? Talents like Ray LaMontagne don't become stars in the traditional sense, they become heroes, cult figures--somehow in the expression of their art they make things better, troubles in some way become clearer--they soothe the aches that dwell beneath the bruises.

Here is Lamontagne recounting how, after leaving home following his high school graduation, he slowly found his way onto the path he is now following...

Four years later, while working long hours in a Lewiston, Maine, shoe factory, he experienced an epiphany -- one that shook him out of his deep ennui.
“This was a particularly dark and weird time for me,” he recounts. “I never saw the light of day for months. One morning, after I’d worked there for about a year, I had my clock set for 4 a.m., like always, and I woke up to this amazing sound coming from the clock radio. It was Stephen Stills, doing a song called ‘Tree Top Flyer.’ I just sat up in bed and listened. Something about that song just hit me. I did not go to work that day; I went to record stores and sought that album out. It was called Stills Alone. I listened to it, and I was transformed. It killed me…it was huge. You don’t know how those things happen. I just knew: ‘This is what I’m gonna do.’ That morning really changed everything -- my whole life.

“So I quit my job. I knew I wanted to sing, which was really crazy, because I never even talked to anybody. I just had this feeling that it was somewhere inside me, and I had to find it and let it out. So I learned the songs on that record and started listening to Crosby, Stills & Nash, then I discovered Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Ray Charles, Otis Redding. I would spend hours just listening to records. Later, I got very intense about singing; I would just sing and sing, and hurt and hurt, because I knew I wasn’t doing it right. Over a period of years I taught myself to sing from the gut and not from the nose.”

Listen to live recordings from Ray's performance at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville, TN.

+ Trouble
+ Shelter
+ Forever My Friend
courtesy of WRLT, Nashville

*BONUS: here is the song Ray mentions being a catalyst in his birth as a singer/songwriter, Stephen Stills "Tree Top Flyer"


  1. Oh, I forgot to tell you that John Vanderslice emailed me because of you! I was quite surprised, but happily so. Apparently you are "the bomb" (which comes as no surprise to me) and he reads blogs. Usually you bring great musicians to my attention, not the other way around! Hehe. Keep up the good work!

  2. Hey Matt, that's nice of you to let me know. I'm sure he got in touch because he likes what you're doing.

    You keep up the great job over there!

  3. Mans got some soul in him... some soul indeed.

  4. Hey Alan, what a thoughtful post as well as wonderful, soulful music from this artist.

    From a daily reader,


  5. Anonymous12:55:00 PM

    Ray's music has helped me deal with some very difficult times these past few months. I thank you Ray for your inspiring story and you beautiful music. It just shows that God has certain plans for all of us we just have to find them. Ray has found his direction and his purpose.

  6. i am so glad people like his music... i am this moment heading off the big city to buy tix to see ray in july!

    lamontagne is one artist who i have heard encourages people to record his live shows... as proof, go here for some live Ray:

  7. hi alan, i just found this post of yours, and wanted to point you in the direction of two absolutely gorgeous tracks for download by Ray on my blog - if you saw him live he probably did these as well. enjoy!

  8. Anonymous11:32:00 AM

    peter says... ray's music hits you like a sledgehammer to the brain - I've played all of the tracks on "Trouble" loads of times and each time is as good as the first! can't wait for the release of the next CD