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Ray LaMontagne

Ray LaMontagne performing at the Sasquatch Music Festival
Background information
Birth name Raymond Charles Jack LaMontagne
Born June 18, 1974 (1974-06-18) (age 35)
Nashua, New Hampshire
Genres Folk, folk rock
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica
Labels RCA
Notable instruments
Martin D-35.[1]

Raymond Charles "Ray" LaMontagne (pronounced /lɑːmɒnˈteɪːn/) (born June 18, 1974) is an American singer-songwriter. Reportedly, after hearing a Stephen Stills song, LaMontagne decided to quit his job at a shoe factory and pursue a career in music. He has since released three albums, Trouble, Till the Sun Turns Black and Gossip in the Grain. In the UK, Trouble was a top 5 hit, and the title track of the album was a top 25 hit. Till the Sun Turns Black was a top 40 hit in the U.S. A soft-spoken person who is known for his raspy voice, LaMontagne has won a number of awards for his music and has performed at several charity events.



Ray LaMontagne was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, in 1974 to a constantly traveling mother and a violent musician father who abandoned the family during Ray's childhood. Because of his father's background in music, LaMontagne refrained from most musical activity, instead spending much of his time reading fantasy novels in the forest.[2] He attended high school at Morgan High School in Morgan, Utah, but frequently ditched class, wrote stories, or got into fights with other students. As a result of these interactions, his grades were poor and he struggled to graduate.[3] After graduation, LaMontagne moved away from his family to Lewiston, Maine in order to find a full-time job.[4]

LaMontagne found a job at a shoe factory in Lewiston where he worked 65 hours a week. One morning at 4 a.m., LaMontagne heard Stephen Stills' song "Treetop Flyer" on the radio as it awoke him for an early work shift.[5] After purchasing the Stills Alone album, he decided that he wanted to quit his job at the shoe factory and start a career as a singer-songwriter.[6] LaMontagne began touring in 1999, although he maintained a side job as a carpenter.[5] In the summer of 1999, LaMontagne amassed 10 songs for a demo that he sent to various local music venues. Mike Miclon the owner of Buckfield, Maine's Oddfellow Theater heard the demo and invited him to open for folk acts such as John Gorka and Jonathan Edwards. A friend and business executive heard LaMontagne's recordings and introduced him to Jamie Ceretta of Chrysalis Music Publishing. CMP recorded his first album, and sold it to RCA Records in the US and Echo Records in the UK.[4]

In 2008, LaMontagne moved into a farmhouse in rural Maine with his wife and two children.[7]

Musical career


In a period of two weeks, LaMontagne re-recorded Trouble at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, California with producer Ethan Johns. RCA Records released the album on September 14, 2004. The album featured performances by Nickel Creek violinist Sara Watkins on two tracks, along with Alex Davids and Stephen Stills's daughter Jennifer Stills on another.[8] In the US, the album reached a low peak of #189 on the Billboard 200, but sold over 250,000 copies.[9][10] Trouble has sold over 400,000 copies worldwide.[3]

During a tour to promote the album, LaMontagne played six songs for an episode of Austin City Limits, which first aired on October 29, 2005.[11] On the third week of finals in the fifth season of American Idol, eventual winner Taylor Hicks performed "Trouble". Chris Sligh, an American Idol Season 6 Top-12 finalist, also performed the tune to rave reviews from the judges. An EP of LaMontagne's performance at the Bonnaroo Music Festival was released on December 6, 2005. "Trouble", , and "Burn" have been used as background music for the TV. "All The Wild Horses" was used in TV's "Rescue Me" and the 2009 film "The Boys are Back."

Till the Sun Turns Black

LaMontagne's second album, Till the Sun Turns Black, was released August 29, 2006 in the US. Also produced by Ethan Johns, the album featured more instrumentation than Trouble, including the use of a horn section and string section on several of the songs. Singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata provided background vocals on the song "Barfly."[12] The album peaked at #28 on the Billboard 200 album chart, selling 28,000 copies in its first week of release.[13] The album also sold enough copies to be a top three heatseeker album in New Zealand.

According to his website, the first single from the album was "Three More Days". LaMontagne performed on The Tonight Show on October 6, 2006 to promote the album. His song "Till the Sun Turns Black" was featured on the television show "ER",[14] and his songs "Lesson Learned" and "Within You" have been used on the CW drama "One Tree Hill". "Be Here Now" was also used in the official trailer for Away From Her, and was featured in 27 Dresses and an episode of Bones. "Empty" was used in the last episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent's 6th season, "Renewal." Ray LaMontagne recorded a live session at Abbey Road Studios for Live from Abbey Road in October 2006. He shared his episode with Shawn Colvin, Nerina Pallot and The Zutons.

Gossip in the Grain

LaMontagne released his third studio album, Gossip in the Grain, on October 14, 2008 on RCA Records, and it achieved his highest-ever debut on the Billboard Charts at #3, with over 60,000 units sold. Working again with producer Ethan Johns, the album also featured LaMontagne's touring band: Jennifer Condos on bass, Eric Heywood on guitar, and Ethan Johns on drums. The opening act on much of his 2008 US Tour, fellow singer/songwriter Leona Naess, guests on three songs: "I Still Care for You", "A Falling Through", and "Gossip in the Grain".[15] LaMontagne also announced a series of New England dates to start off his US tour in support of the album.[16] The song "You Are the Best Thing" was featured in the movie I Love You, Man. He also performed the song live as musical guest on NBC's Saturday Night Live on March 7, 2009.[17] On October 12, 2009 the song "Sarah" appeared towards the end of an episode of House.M.D called "Instant Karma" (Season 6 Episode 4).

Composition and performance

LaMontagne is particularly known for his raspy voice, which he says he learned by singing through his gut and not his nose.[18][19] LaMontagne stated that he is highly influenced by Stephen Stills, Richard Manuel, and Rick Danko. Critics have compared LaMontagne's music to that of The Band, Van Morrison, Nick Drake, and Tim Buckley.[20][21] LaMontagne refers to himself as a "very private person", and rarely gives interviews. He also usually does not interact much with the audience between songs during his live shows[22] and has been known to perform in the dark to avoid distracting bright lights and to separate himself from the audience because of his shy nature. Lamontagne doesn't do music videos because he is extremely critical of himself and believes music videos should be left for beautiful people.[citation needed]

Charitable events

In 2005, he performed at "From the Big Apple to the Big Easy", a fundraiser for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The concert was held at the Radio City Music Hall on September 20, 2005, and also featured Dave Matthews, John Mayer, and Simon & Garfunkel among others.[23] LaMontagne also played at the "Warren Haynes Christmas Jam" that year on December 17, 2005. The concert raised funds for Habitat for Humanity in Asheville, North Carolina.[24] LaMontagne performed at KYSR's Lounge for Life charity concert on October 5, 2006 at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, California. He also auctioned off one of his guitars on eBay for its charity auction. Funds raised from the concert and auction went to breast cancer research.[25]



Studio albums


  1. ^ Fretbase, Ray Lamontagne's Guitar - The Martin D-35
  2. ^ Martin, Gavin (September 2004). "Ray LaMontagne: Troubled Soul and Backwaters Blues from Camera-Shy Maine Man". UNCUT. 
  3. ^ a b "Ray LaMontagne: Born under a bad sign". The Independent. June 18 2006. 
  4. ^ a b "Chrysalis Music Publishing: Ray LaMontagne".  Last accessed October 10, 2006
  5. ^ a b Williamson, Nigel (September 2004). "Old School, New Class". The Times. 
  6. ^ "One to Watch: Ray LaMontagne". The Fly. September 2004. 
  7. ^ "Ray LaMontagne, Gossip in the Grain, interview". 
  8. ^ See Trouble album liner notes.
  9. ^ "The Billboard 200". Billboard. September 17, 2005. 
  10. ^ "Ray Lamontagne Profile".  Last accessed October 15, 2006
  11. ^ "PBS - Austin City Limits".  Last accessed October 10, 2006
  12. ^ See Till the Sun Turns Black album liner notes.
  13. ^ "Dylan Earns First No. 1 Album Since 1976".  Last accessed October 9, 2006
  14. ^ "RCA Records Official website".  Last accessed October 10, 2006
  15. ^ Hasty, Katie (June 3, 2008). "Ray LaMontagne Works Against The 'Grain'" Billboard. Retrieved on June 4, 2008.
  16. ^ "Ray LaMontagne Tour Dates". 2009-02-01. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  17. ^ "Ray LaMontagne Letterman Appearance". YouTube. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  18. ^ "Ray LaMontagne: Who Is He?". The Sunday Times. 
  19. ^ "The 2006 Esky Music Awards". Esquire Magazine. April 2006. 
  20. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Ray LaMontagne: Till the Sun Turns Black (review)". Allmusic. 
  21. ^ Hoard, Chris (August 21, 2006). "Ray LaMontagne: Till the Sun Turns Black (review)". 
  22. ^ Huxley, Phill (March 5, 2005). "Ray LaMontagne @ Rescue Rooms 03/03/05". BBC. 
  23. ^ "From the Big Apple to the Big Easy: The Concert for New Orleans".  Last accessed October 15, 2006
  24. ^ "Warren Haynes Presents: The X-Mas Jam".  Last accessed October 15, 2005
  25. ^ "Ray LaMontagne Official Site".  Last accessed October 24, 2006.

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