Weaving the Basket
MIKE MONTREY BAND TO RELEASE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED LIVE STUDIO ALBUM - WEAVING THE BASKET A stifling, infectious infirmity is running rampant under pop culture's slate gray clouds. A society - and modern music industry - that pretends to nurture the creative spirit actually forces an ideal: that to produce products and sell the results is the only acceptable form of creative exchange. Yet as novelist Lewis Hyde put it in his 1979 classic, "The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World," "A work of art is a gift, not a commodity." For it's upcoming double album, Mike Montrey Band (The MMB) reach back to an older literary classic for the inspiration to burst through the veil of robotic capitalism and it's stranglehold on recording, and let music drip with all the passion with which it was intended. In Henry David Thoreau's "Walden" (1854), Thoreau tells of a Native American who approaches a wealthy lawyer, intending to sell his woven baskets. Denied, he feels snubbed and cheated. Thoreau writes: "I too had woven a kind of basket of a delicate texture, but I had not made it worth anyone's while to buy them. Yet not the less, in my case, did I think it worth my while to weave them, and instead of studying how to make it worth men's while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them. The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind. Why should we exaggerate any one kind at the expense of the others?" For Weaving the Basket, The MMB's first studio album since 2008's "A Perfect Reality," the band decided to innovate by getting back to the source - art for art's sake and the visceral experience of live music performed in front of an audience. On January 29, The MMB offered the public an opportunity to hear Weaving the Basket recorded live, in two two-hour sessions at the intimate Retromedia Studios in Red Bank, N.J. With the live show presented in a recording studio rather than a club, in front a silent audience who influenced the players' spontaneity and showmanship through their presence, a special musical ambience was created, one trumping the isolated production atmosphere of typical recording and overlays. It was The MMB's gift to their fans. Both showings played to a packed house. Furthering the idea of gifts is the fact The MMB offered for any fans who couldn't attend, the opportunity to make a donation to the album effort on the band's website - in any amount of their choosing - and in return would receive a copy of the finished CD's first printing. A same-day CD release party blowout is planned on April 30 at 10 p.m. at The Old Bay in New Brunswick. Enigmatic frontman Mike Montrey explained, "We chose this route because we felt it was the best way to convey the feeling of these songs, and while we are not opposed to studio albums in the true sense, we do feel that playing as one emits an irreplaceable feel." The album contains two discs: the tender and emotive "Acoustic Side," and the raucous zoukinspired "Electric Side." MMB members Rob Smith (drums), Anthony "Duke" Duca (bass), Karl Dietel (keyboards), Hayden Wright (tenor sax) and Adam Garnys (alto sax) spin their collective mastery, while central New Jersey favorite James Dalton on harmonica and Juggling Suns vocalist Jen Nay make spine-tingling guest appearances. Lead guitarist and vocalist Mike Montrey has been weaving his baskets, so to speak, since his early days of commanding northern New Jersey's live music scene as the frontman of cult-following roots-rock quintet ...water... in 2001. In 2007, after countless ...water... performances at markets such as SXSW (Austin, TX), The Knitting Factory (NYC), Musikfest (Bethlehem, PA), The Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, N.J.) and The Stone Pony (Asbury Park, N.J.), Montrey was invited to tour as a member of heavy-hitting rock band The Samples, who'd been touring for 19 years and had shared stages with Dave Matthews Band, Sting and Phish. Montrey continues to play with The Samples across North America. In 2008, Montrey formed the nexus of what would become The MMB, and it's been a nonstop ride ever since. "A Perfect Reality" enjoyed a nomination for Top Release of 2008 by the prestigious Asbury Music Awards, debuted at #29 on the Jambands.com radio charts, and the single "Tin Can" was a Relix Magazine Jam Off! Selection.