The Ryan Montbleau Band
My father gave me a guitar for Christmas when I was in the third grade. Little black Fender Squier and a Squier amp. Pretty sick little set up for a 9-year-old, actually.
I tried to play a few things, some blues my uncle taught me, as I recall. Even took some lessons from an older kid a few years later.
But all in all, by the time I graduated high school I couldn't do a whole lot with a guitar. I could play the beginning of "Back in Black," maybe a little "Crazy Train," but that's about it... I sold the Fender to my brother's friend for so cheap that he gave me a crappy acoustic as a consolation prize.
Then I went away to college. Villanova University, right in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I'm from north of Boston (Peabody, MA), and had never really been away from home for long. So here I am, young, far from home, got a girlfriend back home, woe is me, I'm pretty depressed. OK, I'm REALLY depressed. But hey, my roommate has this nice acoustic guitar that's much nicer than my own. Hmm... I basically played nonstop in college. The bug bit me and I just played and played and played and played. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix were the masters. Played a strat in my dormroom, or later, my attic for hours at a time. Every day. Plus I was studying and writing a lot of poetry in the last few years. I remember the specific place on campus when it struck me that the music already in the world is all well and good, but sometimes YOU have to create your own.
Played in a couple college bands, and it wasn't until the last semester of my senior year (spring 1999) that I started to sing. I had sort of always had this voice
inside my head, but never let it out to anyone, including myself. Never. Listening to all kinds of contemporary R&B as a kid (for a period of years growing up, my favorite
groups were AC/DC and New Edition) really planted the seed of vocal melodies in my head. My singing voice slowly started seeping out in the car, alone, and then I finally got the gall to sing in front of people. From graduation until about six months later, my confidence and my vocals just grew and grew until, eventually, I loved to sing for a crowd. Now, four years later, there is no place I'd rather be than on a stage with a guitar and a microphone.
I've been playing out as much as I can over the last few years. At first, that meant a couple of gigs a month, including open mics, sitting in with other bands, etc. Over time, that worked itself up to 15-18 gigs a month around Boston to pay the bills. Had to substitute teach during the day for about two years to get by, but it was well worth it. I even got a song out of that experience.
Nowadays, I make a living off of making music. I am truly a lucky boy. But it has certainly been a lot of hard work to get to this point. In the beginning, I had the mentality that I would play anywhere at any time, for anyone, and that has made all the difference. I've opened for metal bands, played hippie juice-joints, coffeehouses, blues clubs, festivals, theatres, living rooms, played in the street, noisy bars (lots of noisy bars, actually), and have just tried to throw myself out there wherever I can. Now I have a new van and tour all over the northeast US (and beyond). I also have a booking agent, a great manager, and
an ever-increasing team of amazing people who help me out. Word seems to be spreading fast now (thanks to people like yourself, reading this!) and I'm ready to go, go, go. But in this, there are no shortcuts, no way, no how.
In all honesty, YOU are the reason I'm not just a bitter substitute teacher right now. I thank you for allowing me to keep doing this. People have responded, and continue to respond to the music I create. That gives me life. If my health holds up and people enjoy what I continue to do, I'll be at this for a long time to come.
And now, the van awaits. Is this a great country or what? See you down the road.
This multi-award winning New England-based songwriter discovered his father's collection of eight-track tapes as a child and never looked back. After early exposure to songwriter legends like Neil Young, Paul Simon, Jim Croce and Van Morrison along with Motown heavies like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight, Jason was inspired to start making the rounds on coffee house stages in his teens. Shortly thereafter, he spent time in Europe performing in folk & blues clubs and on the streets of London and around Spain. Once back in the states, he landed a job at a roots & blues record label where he witnessed numerous Blues legends (including members of the original Muddy Waters band ) making magic in recording sessions. Before long, Jason jumped head-first into the Northeast's burgeoning songwriter scene.
The maturity and strength of his impressive debut album "Lost Houses" quickly began to turn the heads of fans and critics alike. Within a few months of the release, he added a blistering rhythm section (Adam Frederick and Reed Chambers) to the supporting cast, establishing The Jason Spooner Trio as one of the most interesting and noteworthy up-and-coming acts since Kathleen Edwards or Martin Sexton.
If Jason's debut hinted at the potential of a unique new artist, his stunning sophomore release "The Flame You Follow" expelled any doubt and cemented Jason and the band as one of the "bright light" acts on the scene today.
The band is staying busy promoting their latest and first live release entitled "Live on The Loft", recorded on the air at XM Studios in Washington, DC. Originally slated for a limited release on satellite radio, the band was so happy with the results that they decided to share it with the world... with an enthusiastic blessing from XM Sirius!
In recent news, Jason and the trio have just returned from a very successful showing at the 2009 South By Southwest festival is Austin, TX. Jason won "Best Singer/Songwriter" in the Portland Phoenix's annual "Best Music Poll 2008." Jason also won the International finals of the Mountain Stage NewSong contest held in New York City. He was honored as a national finalist in the Starbucks Music Makers competition in Boston. Jason took part in a tour of the East Coast as a selected member of the Falcon Ridge "Most Wanted" Preview Tour. He was also recently named as a New Folk Finalist in the renowned Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, TX. Jason and his band returned to both festivals as a main stage act in 2007. Previously, he won the Ossipee Valley Bluegrass Festival songwriting contest in NH and was a finalist in the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting Competition. Other highlights include Jason's song "Pickup Truck" airing on NPR's "Car Talk" Program and a national appearance on The Food Network's "FoodNation with Bobby Flay."
Jason's writing style continues to emerge as a crucial strength that sets this Portland, Maine-based artist apart from the fray of young songwriters populating the New England music scene. Admittedly far from content with the majority of songs dominating today's radio charts, Jason hovers in a unique space between the literal and the psychological. As a writer, he often provides enough detail to ignite the listener's imagination while enabling them to deliver some personal experience to the equation. In a recent interview, Jason described the songwriting process saying,
"I've written a handful of 'story' songs which can be interesting way to communicate but I definitely think the vast majority of the tunes I end up with tend to be broad-strokes vs. very literal accounts or thematic "songwritery" songs. I try and keep the concept of poetry in mind regardless...some poems are powerful in their starkness and others are powerful in the breathing room that reader has to process a series of words."
He later goes on to add...
"With songwriting, I view it as a spectrum between the stark and the broad-stroke as well. A writer like Johnny Cash for instance; there's really no time or need for songwriting devices, cleverness or trickery there. It is what is it. The poetry and the power is in the honesty and the starkness of it. On the other end of the spectrum, I think of bands like R.E.M. and Radiohead or songwriters like Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen. The lyrical approach is such a contrast to the literal stuff. Things are far more shrouded and murky but tastefully so. In these cases, I enjoy the mystery of the listening experience because I can inject some personal experience into the process. So when I write, I think I present a framework but I try not to hit listeners over the head. I generally don't enjoy songwriting where the metaphor is overwhelming or where the you can see the puppet-master's strings everywhere. It's almost like watching Soap Opera acting."
Whether you're a fan of great songwriting or power-house live performance, Jason Spooner is an emerging songwriter to watch closely.
High Noon Saloon
701A E. Washington Ave
Madison, WI 53703
|Minimum Age: 18|
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: No|