I don’t know the last time my apartment was this clean and my cats were so happy. With only one show this week, I quickly came to terms with the fact that my only social life is that at shows so, without shows, I’m left at home with the vacuum and a newly discovered channel on Pluto TV that just plays Dog the Bounty Hunter 24-7 (no shame). It’s honestly been kind of nice but I was also going a wee bit stir crazy to there was a sense of excitement in me as I pulled up to The Turf Club on Friday night.
Local star Molly Maher kicked things off a little bit after 8:30. Her southern drenched sound and infectious smile are just a couple of the things that will make you fall in love with this woman within just a couple of notes. Backed by two members of her band The Disbelievers, Molly had the crowd captivated throughout her nearly forty-five minute opening set.
There’s something very humbling about Molly that isn’t the easiest to put into word but let me try. Last night’s show wasn’t a sell out show in any way, shape, or form but there were pockets of people there who were clearly there to catch up with friends, have a couple of drinks and have the music playing in the background. I’ve seen this bring some performers to their knees as they plead with the audience to stop talking and give them attention. Something truly magical happened when Molly took the stage. The conversations quieted to a whisper and rarely ever changed from that other than a burst of laughter here and there. She commands your attention without asking for her and her music captivates you without ever having heard it before. I could tell you about her beautiful songwriting or the way the two members of her band complimented her so well but honestly I think the fact that she got everyone’s attention without asking it says more than enough about how amazing Molly Maher is.
The night was one of those quick and easy nights and after a quick stage changeover, headliner The Ryan Montbleau Band was taking the stage and jumping into a lengthy set that would end the night. The only reason I know who Ryan is is because of my college friend Pat. He’s the one that introduced me to Martin Sexton and Ryan Montbleau before moving half way across the country. We honestly don’t talk much but I would still consider Pat one of my ride or die kind of friends so whenever I get a chance to see Martin or Ryan, I take it as if it’s a way of connecting with Pat. I have to be honest, it’s been years since I have popped the burned copy of one of Ryan’s albums Pat gave me into my CD player but something beautiful happened as soon as Ryan took the stage.
The words flooded back into my head instantly. It was like I had just been listening to Ryan’s discography prior to getting to the show and had somehow memorized everything. Sure, maybe the sudden remembrance of lyrics was due to the fact that my mind is a steel trap when it comes to music (and not much beyond that) but honestly I think it’s because of Ryan’s lyrics. They are so honest, so real, and just genuine. Take a second to look up the lyrics to his song “75 and Sunny” and try to tell me I’m wrong. The way he delivers those words with the help of his talented band behind him matches that. There’s just something so humble, so real, and well genuine about Ryan and his performance.
With over twenty songs in his set list, Ryan proved that although he may not be a household name yet, he is a force to be reckoned with. Every song was better than the last and was followed by an applause that seemed much louder than such a modest audience would be able to produce. The truth is, Ryan has one of the best voices out there right now. Think Jason Mraz meets a little southern soul with a tinge of indie-pop thrown in there. Add his brilliant guitar playing and you are left with a truly talented musician that deserves the spotlight. Beyond his playing is his longevity. With twelve full length albums (when you add up his solo albums and the recordings with the band) that date back to 2002, it’s clear that Ryan isn’t going anywhere. He has stayed true to his sound and his vibe since day one and, having watched musicians like him change styles to fit with whatever is selling, it’s more than refreshing.
I talk about concerts being magical. Obviously there’s a sense of magic at the big arena shows when there is a whole production going on around you but I think the magic felt in the Turf Club last night was more my scene. It wasn’t a production. Honestly it was just a couple of people on stage performing with some lights (not even that bright) shining on them but it was perfect. There was passion and love flowing through the air instead of confetti and streamers. Last night was magical in it’s own way and I loved every moment of it.