A few things have changed since I moved from NYC to Nashville. For starters, “getting out of town” doesn’t require a cab ride to the airport or a Chinatown bus… just gas money. And what was once an “ID,” only seen by bouncers and will-call windows, is now a full-fledged license. Hot damn.
On Saturday I grabbed a cup of coffee, stopped by Grimey’s Records to pick up Ray Lamontagne’s latest release, Live from Bonaroo 2005, and hit the road for Ray’s sold-out show at the Tabernacle in Atlanta. For the price of an EP, Live from Bonaroo 2005 provides a 6-song, 35-minute glimpse into the brilliance of Ray’s live performance and includes “Empty,” a new track, not included on Ray’s major-label debut, Trouble.
A few hours later I arrived at the venue, just before the lights went down for Ray’s performance. The lower level of the tabernacle made me feel like I was in a grammar school gymnasium on opening night of a third grade play… complete with rows of fold-up chairs and dead-silent anticipation by the crowd. The dark and intimate venue proved to be the perfect match for Ray’s quiet and reserved demeanor. With nothing but a stool, a small table, and two acoustic guitars on stage, Ray humbly strolled out, picked up one of his Martin’s and started the night with a flawless rendition of "Jolene". With little talking between songs, Ray worked through the majority of Trouble, while treating the audience to a few new songs, including “Bring Me Flowers,” which many of Ray’s die-hard fans seemed familiar with already. Other highlights included a duet with opener Brandi Carlile on “Hanah”, as well as a beautiful harmonica intro to “Narrow Escape” that gave me chills and made for one hell of a start to an already incredible song.
Known for being shy and quite, it was obvious throughout the show that Ray was enjoying himself and becoming more comfortable on stage. Never given the credit he deserves, Ray is a gifted guitarist who has fun improvising and stretching the boundaries of his songs, breathing new life into some of his familiar favorites.
What I thought would be a room filled with southern frat boys yelling “Get-R-Done” ended up being an audience of respectful and gracious fans who, like me, were thrilled to have a ticket. With the beautiful acoustics of the room on his side, Ray kept the crowd silenced and staring in awe throughout the entirety of his performance. There ‘aint a lot of people I know that can keep a room full of rednecks entertained AND quite for over an hour… Get-R-Done Ray!
Source: Ryan Harrington