Review: Sexton/Montbleau @ The Aladdin

The stage set was sparse. A chair and mike stand. A guitar sits in its case on the floor. An Orange lava lamp illuminates a small table behind it all. Out strolls Ryan Montbleau with acoustic guitar in hand. He sat in the chair, plugged in and picked that guitar like it was an extension of his fingers. He sang a song of unrequited love and sadness that got the audiences attention right away and he held it for the next forty minutes in such a way that we didn’t want to look away. He sang about free love (Quickie, from 2006’s One Fine Color). He sang about singing along and how everybody sings along with him in his imagination (Stretch, also from One Fine Color). He sang about Love And Love Lost. And we, the audience ate it up.

At one point we were clapping along, then humming along, then woo wooing background harmonies to Montbleau’s smooth lyrics about it all having been done before. After that particular song, Montbleau appeared personally touched by the response. It was a great feeling for me to be giving emotion back to the performer on the stage. On his Myspace blog, he writes that tonight might have been the best night on the tour due to the easy energy in the room. He said he “likey Portland, Oregon very much”. The audience seemed to likey what they saw and heard also. I know I did.

Conversations during the short intermission seemed centered around the upcoming elections. Lots of Obama buttons adorned lapels and sweaters. I overheard words like foreclosure and layoff. “The Freightliner plant is shutting down”. “No one wants to buy my S.U.V.”. “I got my property tax bill today”. I had to get out of there, so I joined the smokers outside. I lit a small cigar, a hand rolled stogie from the local tobacco shop with a nice aroma and little aftertaste. No one ever stands by a cigar smoker in a crowd, not even in a crowd of smokers. I had narrowly avoided having my mellow harshed indoors and didn’t want the risk extended any farther.

I reflected on the first half of the show in my self imposed fog and smiled. All too soon, I stubbed out the hot end and went back inside. I wanted to get back to my seat for the headliner, Martin Sexton. I admit, I was not too familiar with his music. I had done some quick research and everything I read about him was more than positive. I couldn’t find a publication or fan letter with anything derogatory to say about his music or his live shows. If one was to believe everything one read, then one would suppose Martin Sexton ruled the music world.

My first impression, after the opening two or three songs, was that Martin Sexton was in possession of a certain genius, a certain musical charm and talent that had more facets than the hope diamond. Sexton’s songwriting and stage presence brought Dave Matthews to mind. His voice dripped with the subtle poetry of Johnny Mathis, only to get preachy and hollering ala Ray Charles a split second later. He pleaded in a high falsetto like Al Green, segued with a beat box rhythm to a scatting like Mel Torme and Ella Fitzgerald in a catfight. All the while finger picking both bass and rhythm guitar parts on his guitar. And he was just beginning.

For the next ninety minutes I was treated to a wonderful evening of versatile musicality. Rock ballads followed folk songs about the heartland. Gospel call and response hallelujahs and amen’s followed laid back love songs. And for cover songs, Martin Sexton only plays the classics. The Serenity Prayer (God, grant me the serenity . . .), The Star Spangled Banner (delivered in yodel and he nailed it), Amazing Grace and America The Beautiful. He improvised lyrics with the wit and speed of Jay-Z on a little ditty that touched on subjects as far ranging as Interstate 5, the conspiracy of American cotton growers to put the hemp/pot farmers out of business to a shout out to our brothers in Eugene. His last songs before the encore were fraught with emotion and the crowd stood, getting all emotional right along with him as he powered through Glory Bound and Black Sheep before saying his goodbyes.

For the encore, Sexton got Ryan Montbleau to join him for yet another classic cover song, the late Billy Preston’s Will It Go Round In Circles. The two traded verses and danced with restrained abandon as the crowd surrounded the front of the stage. They both left the stage but Sexton returned with an acoustic guitar for the only time in the set. Literally feet away from his microphone, he played and sang a stunning version of Way I Am, the opening tune from his breakthrough album, In the Journey.

Midway through the beautiful song, he walked to the front of the stage, eschewing the microphone and sang directly to the crowd. Again, the shared emotion was palpable and when the last note had faded, there was a second or two where we, the audience gathered ourselves before clapping. We had been lost in the moment. The magic had happened again.

Tonight was a night to turn up the stereo and roll down the windows on the way home. Don’t risk commercials, use the satellite radio and crank it. I would revel in the music that I had enjoyed, sleep the fitful sleep of the untroubled and awaken to another day of bad news bombardment. I had escaped the funk that had befallen me Friday afternoon and been entertained into a boondoggle free trance.

Rock On Through The Fog,

The Boondoggle Free Fog.

A.J. Crandall

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14 Responses

  1. Strange that you’re smart enough to recognize the idiotic scum sucking going on in this election cycle, yet still insist on calling this country the leader of the free world when we’re actually the laughing stock.

    Less politics and more music, please. That’s why I come here.

    Other than that, nice review.

  2. Ryan Montbleau sucks major cock. I wouldn’t wipe the shit from my ass with his crappy music. Only douchebags who still sit around and listen to phish tapes will enjoy this shithouse masterpiece. Oh yeah….i’m talking to you joker!

  3. Ryan MOntbleau is GREAT! I don’t care what Randy Walters says above^^^. Both he and SExton are incredible writers, performers and artists. They are the lost hat-trick of musicians, (write, sing, play)

    Sure, all the ladies may love his music….that does not mean, however, that he or his band (RMB) are lesser there of. In fact, while driving from an Umphrey’s show to a Trey show last weekend, I threw in Ryan Montbleau’s live show of New Year’s 2006 @ Paradise Rock Club in Boston. 3 other dudes in the car were like, “wow, who is this? This dude is great!”….

    Don’t be a hater on Ryan Montbleau. It still amazes me this guy or his band isn’t bigger then they are.

  4. Nobody wants a copy of this shithouse masterpiece..go listen to your crappy Robert Randolph tape…poser!

  5. Seriously douchebag are you gonna honestly admit that you drove from a umphreys show to see Trey….let me guess you and the other dudes teabagged each other while listening to crappy bisco tapes. Yo Scotty you still rocking out to the ominous seapods…tell the truth.

  6. Randy, you seem awfully angry… who crapped in your Cheerios? And since you’re such an authority on music, I’d love to hear one artist you WOULD recommend. Oh, and if you could do it without obscenity, that would be appreciated.

  7. I would also be interested in hearing what Randy considers non- “sucks major cock”, because RMB is and will continue to be one of the best young artist in America. That is until he is a little older and more successful. The he will just be one of the best artist in America.

  8. WOW Randy Walters is a loser. The only way he can post is negative and with profanity . He is probably a big fan of the insane clown posse . He would appear to be a expert on douche bags as he may be the biggest one I have read waste our time with a post in a long time.

  9. “RMB is and will continue to be one of the best young artist in America. That is until he is a little older and more successful. The he will just be one of the best artist in America.”

    Well 4 years have passed. Is he still the best young anything? Best artist in America? Sorry it didn’t work out for them

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