The day after Thanksgiving is an interesting time to be in the District. Some people work, some people don’t. Lots of tourists, but nothing close to summer levels. Overall it’s pretty quiet. And quiet is no fun. That’s why the Hamilton will be the place to be Friday night for a funky performance by the always entertaining Ryan Montbleau Band.
Montbleau’s mixture of funk, folk, and blues was given a jolt of N’awlins soul on For Higher, the band’s most recent album (which was financed by a wildly successful PledgeMusic.com campaign). The band entrenched themselves in the Big Easy and got help from such luminaries as Ben Ellman (of legendary New Orleans funk jam band Galactic), Ivan Neville, Anders Osborn, and George Porter, Jr. of the Meters. While Montbleau didn’t set out to make a “New Orleans” record, with a group like that a dash of bayou soul couldn’t be helped. The end result is a wonderful gumbo of funk and soul which – like all of Montbleau’s songs and indeed all New Orleans-influenced music – is served better live.
On paper, the music on For Higher seems like a departure for a guy from Peabody, Massachusetts who’s opened for Ani DiFranco and whose previous album, 2010’s Heavy on the Vine, was produced by folk star Martin Sexton. But for Montbleau, the funk and the folk are never that far apart. Known for playing more than 200 shows a year, he and his band have reached a level of tight that other performers can only dream of.
Opener Nathan Moore also knows a thing or two about crowdsourced performing – for more than two years the highly skilled folkie traveled the country without any booked shows, instead playing only where invited by fans. Moore and his manager webcast themselves 24 hours a day and were helped out by fans who lined up gigs at homes, parks, and rec centers. While the room might be a little bigger than Moore is used to, his charming brand of folk will fit right in at the Hamilton.
Tickets are still available here. We'll see you at the show tonight!