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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: June 26, 2018

Ray LaMontagne will play Bangor Thursday, then come back to relax

Written by: Ray Routhier

Ray LaMontagne belts a tune during his opening set at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland Tuesday, May 27, 2014, as part of his Supernova tour.
Staff photo by Gabe Souza

Ray LaMontagne is coming to Maine to work this week. But when his current tour ends in mid-July, he plans on coming back to rest and recharge.

“The very first thing I’ll do when I’m off the tour is to go back to Maine, on the coast. It’s not for a vacation, it’s for my spirit,” said LaMontagne, who lived in Maine for more than a decade.

LaMontagne, 45, will perform at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor on Thursday. He’s currently touring to promote his new album, “Part of the Light,” which came out in May. The album was produced at his home studio in western Massachusetts, where he’s lived for about 10 years.

But before that, LaMontagne lived in Maine for more than a decade. He was born in New Hampshire, but his family moved to Maine when he was a teenager and lived in towns north of Lewiston. After high school, he worked in Maine factories until deciding one day to focus on music. A self-taught guitar player, he took some classes in music at the University of Maine at Augusta and started playing around Maine, including in Portland.

Photo courtesy of RCA Records

Word of mouth about his soulful, rootsy style began to filter from Maine to Los Angeles, and he was soon courted by record labels. He got a deal with RCA in 2003, while he was living in a rustic cabin in Sumner. His debut album, “Trouble,” came out in 2004 and quickly established him with fans and critics.

He lived in Maine for a while after making it big, buying a house in Wilton, before moving to Massachusetts.

“I love Maine, oh, my God, especially the coast. It’s a place like no other. It’s magical,” said LaMontagne. He says his favorite coastal Maine place is the midcoast.

Ray LaMontagne’s most recent album, “Part of the Light,” came out in May. He’ll play Darling’s Waterfront Pavillion in Bangor on Thursday, June 28.
Image courtesy of RCA Records

“Part of the Light” is LaMontagne’s seventh album. It’s different from earlier albums in tone and execution.

Where “Trouble” had a very rootsy, soulful sound, especially on vocals, LaMontagne’s vocals are more delicate on “Part of the Light.”

The song “As Black as Blood Is Blue” feels a little psychedelic, while “No Answer Arrives” is a pretty hardcore blues tune. Then he’s got some soft, pretty songs like “Let’s Make It Last” and “Such a Simple Thing.”

LaMontagne said he wasn’t trying to do anything different with these latest songs. He thinks that his vocal style has just evolved naturally over time.

“I think part of it is using to learn the instrument (his voice) over they years,” LaMontagne said. “I feel like have more control over it, just doing it for so long. I hope I’ve become a better singer.”

LaMontagne said the songs on “Part of the Light” weren’t inspired by any particular event. He struggled a little to explain where the inspiration for his songs comes from.

“It’s just the way I relate to life. I don’t sit down with any specific ideas, it’s just about being alive,” he said. “It’s more like painting. It’s how I feel. Music to me is just a beautiful form of communication, and I just love it.”

RAY LAMONTAGNE WITH NEKO CASE

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, 1 Railroad St., Bangor
HOW MUCH: $25 to $69.75
INFO: waterfrontconcerts.com

The early days:
Here’s a clip of LaMontagne way back in 2003 playing “Trouble” at the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland.

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