Galleries RayLaMontagne(TBL)1910

Published on July 18th, 2014 | by Ballard Lesemann


Gallery: Ray LaMontagne, Jenny Lewis, and the Belle Brigade

Metronome Charleston caught the three-band bill at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on July 16, camera in hand. Acclaimed songsmith Ray LaMontagne and his current band shared the stage with singer/songwriter Jenny Lewis and her group and indie-popsters Belle Brigade.


Ray LaMontagne at the PAC (photo by Ballard Lesemann)

Led by sister/brother team Barbara Gruska (drums/vocals) and Ethan Gruska (guitar/vocals), the melodic, harmony-driven Belle Brigade (from California) hopped through a very brief opening set between 7:30-8 p.m. Some in the audience seemed indifferent and uninterested, but the band’s upbeat and cheerful performance, which consisted mostly of songs from their new album Just Because, won several new fans over.

The willowy Jenny Lewis (formerly of Rilo Kiley) showcased her new album The Voyager (her first solo album in six years) with a solid set of soulful pop songs. The California-based songwriter sang beautifully and instantly charmed many of the LaMontagne fans who were new to her guitar-driven pop ditties and melancholic piano ballads. The band’s a cappella version of Lewis’s “Acid Tongue” at the end of the set was a highlight.

LaMontagne’s massive summer tour is still rolling across the country in support of his latest album, Supernova, released in April via the RCA label. On the new collection, the intense, soul-tinged, raspy-voiced songwriter veered away from the folk-rock and soul of his previous releases (including the brassy and romantic hit “You Are the Best Thing”) and aimed for a more tripped-out, psychedelic pop-rock style.

Some fans in the crowd seemed uncomfortable with the new grooves and vibes, but LaMontagne’s tight band (which included Belle Brigade’s Barbara Gruska on the kit) were rock-solid, and he sang with the soulful, beaten-but-not-defeated style that drove much of his music through his early years.

Photos by Ballard Lesemann.



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About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.

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