Ryan Montbleau came late to the music business even though his father was a rock bassist for part of his life and Ryan received his first guitar at age nine. “I was a late bloomer,” he allows. “I didn’t really start writing songs until I was in college. I’d be sitting in the back of a class in my chemical engineering program and writing poetry in my notebook. At that point, I knew something had to change.” And did it change. Today, Ryan Montbleau is a popular and beloved songwriter and bandleader on the festival circuit, he’s recorded 10 albums, and he’s deepened his craft as an artist by playing with other musicians after he and his longtime band ended their full-on, 10-year heavy touring schedule. “I loved playing with my original band and still do, whenever we may get the chance. But touring with different musicians has taught me to be a better bandleader and forced me to be a better musician,” he says. “Another thing I’ve learned is that as you continue your life as a songwriter and performer, you learn your limitations and grow into them. You learn how to push yourself to write lyrics that get as close to what you want to say as possible, or to find the right music to say it with, or to sing in a way that really carries the message in your heart.” After graduating from Villanova University, Ryan began his career at the turn of century as a solo performer, appearing often at the old House of Blues in Cambridge, Mass. and other Boston area venues where he built up a local following, That loyal following expanded greatly after he formed the Ryan Montbleau Band and went from the coffeehouse and folk scene into the world of jam bands. With only a few personnel changes, the band had a decade long run from 2003-2013, their latest album together being 2012’s landmark and classic “Growing Light.”

— Steve Winters