Over the past seven years, Ray LaMontagne has - in addition to growing and subsequently maintaining one of the music industry's finest beards - become one of the country's most revered songwriters. With a style that ranges from whispery ballads to dance-friendly rock songs that showcase the talented crew of musicians he's known to gather as his band.
We first had the pleasure of meeting LaMontagne back in 2004 when he released Trouble, a collection of awesomely beautiful songs that made us wonder why we'd never heard from this jewel of the Northeast. Well, as it turned out, that was because LaMontagne had spent most of his 20s working in a shoe factory, tutoring and working other odd jobs before he fully devoted his life to music. But his appeal soon grew as his folk-inspired Americana tunes attracted a loyal following of fans, leading to festival appearances and larger-scale tours. He followed that up with Till the Sun Turns Black, another disc that showcased LaMontagne's excellent crooning.But in 2008, LaMontagne reached his widest audience yet with Gossip in the Grain, which featured the hit single, "You Are the Best Thing," a horn-filled track that showed the artist - known for his reclusive nature and residency at a remote farm in Maine - at his most outgoing. This year, under the name Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs, he released another more upbeat record that includes a collaboration with a number of great musicians, many of whom will appear with LaMontagne in Bend. Again, LaMontagne is often reserved and known for his privacy, so don't expect a ton of stage banter. But with a voice like his, LaMontagne doesn't need to rely on banter.
Opening the show for LaMontagne and company is Brandi Carlile, one of Bend's most beloved out-of-town acts. The singer-songwriter has played three sold-out shows at the Tower Theatre over the course of the past two years. Known for her delightfully gravelly voice and hook-laden songs, Carlile recently released a live disc of her band playing Benaroya Hall in her native Seattle. When she took the Tower stage back in May, Carlile was at her rocking best, but still took some time to show off her acoustic talents.
So, it goes without saying that you should show up early (and stay late) for the show.