The sound of MMB (Mike Montrey Band) has a rugged outline -- awareness of life’s tremors pepper the lyrics, sung with a tenor that both trembles and soars, seemingly made for this kind of poetry. Yet it’s the high-spirited melodies and flowing, exploratory warmth of the musicianship that keep this six-piece from settling anywhere near easy classification; “indie acoustic singer-songwriter,” “sultry, jazzy zouk” or “roots” could aptly be applied at any given performance. Relix Magazine has caught on, as has Jambands.com and the prestigious Asbury Music Awards.
With a slew of festival appearances, headlining gigs at noted clubs and national nods for the albums, a northern New Jersey dream has turned into a Northeast sensation.
MMB consists of frontman Mike Montrey on vocals and guitar, Anthony “Duke” Duca on bass and vocals, Rob Smith on drums, Karl Dietel on keyboards and backing vocals, Adam Garnys on horns and Jen Nay Augustine on vocals.
2011 saw the recording of the critically acclaimed, Weaving the Basket. The double disc was recorded live at Retromedia Studios in Red Bank, NJ, and prompted the Aquarian Weekly to shout: "Weaving The Basket rocks, it is spontaneous and dynamic. The songs are true works of art, gems in the rough that have been presented to the listener for their own individual interpretation of value"
The current project is Song by Song by Song, in which a new track is being released one at a time, every month or so, until the 12 track record is complete (with accompanying video).
Montrey’s professional music career began in 2001, with the formation of the eclectic rock band, …water... Acting as chief songwriter and vocalist/guitarist, Montrey led the five-piece into garnering a regional cult following and very rewarding press. After releasing their second studio LP, 2003’s "Dig", New Jersey's Gannett Publications stated, "This band could represent rock's past, present and future", while the renowned tri-state music publication Upstage Magazine pronounced Montrey as "one of the scene's most commanding frontmen and inventive guitarists."
In 2007, after countless …water… performances at markets such as SXSW (Austin, TX), The Knitting Factory (NYC), Musikfest (Bethlehem, PA), The Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ) and The Stone Pony (Asbury Park, NJ), Montrey was invited to tour nationally as a member of epic rock band The Samples, who’d been touring for 19 years and had shared stages with Dave Matthews Band, Sting and Phish, among many other heavy hitters. Montrey continues to perform with the legendary Samples at such venues as House of Blues (Dallas and Atlantic City), Tipitina's (New Orleans), Red Rocks Amphitheater (Morrison, CO) and The Highline Ballroom (NYC).
2008 saw Montrey collect his considerable experience and prowess to complete the debut solo album, "A Perfect Reality", consisting of 11 original Montrey compositions ranging from rock to country to experimental soundscapes. The album features fellow Samples and MMB member Karl Dietel on keyboards, as well as a slew of talented guests. Grammy Award-winner Mike Tarsia (Patti LaBelle, Joe Pass, Billy Preston) acted as engineer and co-producer. Within months of its release in April 2008, the album debuted at #29 on the Jambands.com radio charts. The single "Take Me Down Mississippi" was featured as a Garageband.com track of the week, and "Tin Can" was a Relix Magazine Jam Off! selection. Montrey celebrated the release with a performance at a packed Sullivan Hall in NYC.
“A Perfect Reality” has enjoyed a nomination for Top Release of 2008 by the Asbury Music Awards.
Montrey soon formed the nexus of what would become The MMB. Following their inception, The College of New Jersey's weekly publication, The Signal, spoke of their live show: "The audience sat mesmerized by the explosive energy of the music and the enthusiasm and passion of the band members." Following suit, Relix Magazine published a feature about the band that November.
On January 1, 2011 at Quixote's True Blue in Denver, CO Montrey received the esteemed honor of being asked to be the guitarist for the Everyone Orchestra. That night he joined Steve Molitz (Particle, Phil Lesh and Friends), Dave Watts (Motet), Garrett Sayers (Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Motet), Wally Ingram (Stockholm Syndrome) and others under the conducting wizardry of Matt Butler.
The current line-up and manic tour schedule of MMB, propelled by the achievements and industry recognition afforded to Montrey during his young yet lustrous career, is sure to catapult these talented musicians to the summit of distinction. Come and see what all the fuss is about.
Mike Montrey - Guitars/Lead Vocals
Karl Dietel - keyboards, Backup Vocals
Rob Smith - Drums
Anthony Duca - Bass, Backup Vocals
Adam Garnys - Saxophones
Jen Nay Augustine - Vocals
MMB - Song by Song by Song (2013 - ongoing)
MMB - Weaving The Basket (4/30/11)
MMB - a perfect reality (4/08)
A Hole In The Sky
Shadow of Doubt
Rocketships and Basketballs
Pull Out the Matches
a space inside my head
Laugh About It
I'm So Confused
take me down mississippi
MMB Press Link
Please check our websites link below to myriad press reviews, etc...
Montrey blends folk and jazz at WTSR concert
[+ Show ]
Music. Food. Free stuff. Alluring as these features of the night were, it was the distinct sound of ...Music. Food. Free stuff. Alluring as these features of the night were, it was the distinct sound of the Mike Montrey Band that brought students to the Kendall Hall TV studio for the second WTSR Concert Series of the semester Sept. 10.
Montrey, equipped with a bright pink guitar, took the stage with flair. The studio was brought to life through the animated band members, whose eclecticism was accentuated by the presence of a blue lava lamp and Yoda statue.
The band opened the show with "World Full of Dreams," the first song off their recent album, "A Perfect Reality." They followed up with other tracks off the album, including "Take Me Down Mississippi," "Care for Me Tomorrow" and "Mr. Last Night."
These songs were a compilation of different styles and rhythms, combining the smooth, jazzy saxaphone of Adam Garnys, the thunderous drumming of Rob Smith, the rumbling bass of John Mangan, the melodic piano of Karl Dietel and the raspy, yet inspired voice of Mike Montrey.
The audience sat mesmerized by the explosive energy of the music and the enthusiasm and passion of the band members.
While this was the band's first performance at the College, Montrey, the lead singer and namesake of the band, was impressed by what he called the "intimate" atmosphere in the studio.
"I like the pink chairs," he said.
The band continued to joke with the audience throughout the performance. In honor of the start of the fall semester, and to the amusement of the audience, the band covered Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall," slowing it to a crawl.
Montrey, a New Jersey native, is currently touring with his band in cities across the state, and in locations in Pennsylvania and New York. In an interview with Lions Now, the 31-year-old said he'd been playing since he was 17.
When asked what he envisioned for himself in 15 years, Montrey enthusiastically said, "I'll definitely still be playing."
Montrey's music refuses to be stylistically categorized, derived from many traditional forms such as folk, jazz, country and rock, a combination that left the audience wanting more.
[+ Show ]
"Main songwriter-vocalist Mike Montrey has grown into one of the fiercely fertile New Jersey music s..."Main songwriter-vocalist Mike Montrey has grown into one of the fiercely fertile New Jersey music scene's most commanding frontmen and inventive guitarists."
Bob Makin (Upstage Magazine)
[+ Show ]
"Obviously a believer in letting their his music speak for itself…guitarist/songwriter/singer Mike M..."Obviously a believer in letting their his music speak for itself…guitarist/songwriter/singer Mike Montrey – is a vocal cross between Bob Weir, Donovan and Dave Matthews..."
Al Muzer (Aquarian Weekly)
MMB - Weaving Success in Multiple Directions
[+ Show ]
Shoreworld: Mike Montrey – Weaving Success In Multiple Directions —by John Pfeiffer, April 27, 2011...Shoreworld: Mike Montrey – Weaving Success In Multiple Directions
—by John Pfeiffer, April 27, 2011
Mike Montrey is back with a new concept and a CD that was inspired by the thinking of Henry David Thoreau. That’s right Thoreau’s Walden is mentioned as the guideline here when explaining the creation of art for art’s sake. Everything in the entertainment industry is labeled with expectations that disfigure any semblance of real expressive freedom. Just look at the charts and you know what I mean. The music has been processed, packaged and slapped into a form-fitted widget that has been proven profitable through corporate marketing and cultural brain washing. Like much of our very existence, it’s about constant sales. As the novelist Lewis Hyde said in his 1979 classic, The Gift: Creativity And The Modern World: “A work of art is a gift, not a commodity.” Thoreau said, “The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind. Why should we exaggerate any one kind at the expense of others?”
Mike Montrey utilizes these very words when showcasing his latest two-disc set, Weaving The Basket. Recorded live last January at John Nolls Retromedia Studios in Red Bank, the double album features one side full electric and one side more of a mostly acoustic nature. Special guests such as Brett Deptula, Adam Alexander, Jen Nay and harp maniac James Dalton don’t hurt the over all feel of this organically grown project either.
Mike is part of a small group that are wising up to economically stressed listeners that pass on more CDs than they buy due to basic survival purchases being first on the list, or just plain saturation in a scene where merch tables call out to passers-by with the same urgent pleas of any third world bazaar. So, Montrey has gone with the “give whatever you can” motto, a system of operations that seems to be working with many artists now due to putting the decision in the hands of the buyer. Ask a person for $15 and they might walk away, but give THEM the power to give what they actually want, and you might be surprised how high they will go when they’re in control of the bottom line.
Weaving The Basket is spontaneous and dynamic. The standard perfection associated with the recording studio and its unending overdubs are gone and replaced by passionate human interaction and performance. The live audience in the studio probably lent quite a bit of inspiration for this lively and colorful splash of musical celebration but Mike and the crew came up with the means to an end, Weaving The Basket rocks.
Selections from the electric set such as “I’m So Confused” feature stone cold grooves ala Chicago and awesome horn arrangements from the days of Tower Of Power or Blood, Sweat and Tears. Building layers and riffs, Montrey sets up the disc in complex musical steps, dodging convention and taking his passages to the next level. “Shadow Of Doubt” mixes old school visions of The Band and The James Gang as the jam plays on. Montrey interjects lyrical Bob Weir/Neil Young shots throughout, stepping in to steer the band into the next odyssey before moving on.
None of the tracks on this disk sound anything alike and it’s a refreshing to listen to an artists color outside the lines when they feel like it. The organic organ sounds on “Atticus” bring back old Woodstock afternoons at the Pink house and the sing-song beauty of Jen Nays (Juggling Suns) vocals sooth the stress-laden soul. Other cool tunes on this are the arabesque “My Shell,” a song that features a melodic intro hook that sticks to the listener’s brain like crazy glue on that guy’s helmet in the commercial.
Kicking with in the pocket drum and sax work, the funky guitars bounce and pop all day long here. This song breathes jam band grand slam. Never boring the listener with unnecessary filler, Montrey spends his arrangements wisely. The horns of Hayden Wright and Adam Garnys follow the old-time religion of Levon Helm’s boys. Montrey’s voice is gravel good, not too raspy and filled with harmonic choice and inflection. He’s in top form here and he knows it.
The band takes it way down for “Wait And See” as Mike cleans up for this mellow sub-ballad. The sounds on this disk are amazing. Noll has his shit together at Retromedia and this live recording is a perfect example of a guy that’s put all his eggs in one basket and ain’t gonna go hungry. The band bounces along softly, making way for a smooth sax solo, standout sparse and full as the band walks down the riff underneath Montrey’s pristine vocal. I also dug the classy launch of “Red” a song that utilizes sweet, offbeat rhythms and dissonant chordal arrangements. The band moves, launching jazz tinged horns that move in and out like a wave on the beach. The middle features the guitar work of Montrey, who resembles the gritty, real style of my favorite axemen, Terry Kath from Chicago. Gone but not forgotten, this brought me back to the glorious ‘70s.
The acoustic disc offers just as much from a different perspective. To me, Montrey excels in both sides and is able to switch without sounding forced or Americana hokey. And while this acoustic side still features a band, the instrumentation for the most part is accurate and non-electric. “Rocketships And Basketballs” leads off with its Van Morrison breezy feel. Horns rise in surges as Montrey and crew trip out ala verse inspired by the Boss. The intricate percussion work of Brett Deptula and Adam Alexander pop in and out with class throughout this side.
I’m running short of space but other standouts are “Pull Out The Matches,” a song that features an old-time Grateful Dead meets Randy Newman revivalist vibe. Horns bleat above jangling, acoustic guitar runs while pianos blow ragtime fast throughout. Think fast pianos, like on Family Guy when the ragtime guy tells a joke and says, “Play me out Johnny!” Seriously, Montrey has a great original vision with his music and it doesn’t sound like anything else here.
“Skeleton Key” comes out of the 1970s left side and moving fast. Double time train track rhythms run the metro as Montrey and the rest of the group steam ahead briskly. Horns are mellow and rich and sort of remind me of that cozy Carol King “Jazz Man” phase. The arrangements throughout this two-disc set are well thought out and melodic. Hooks abound and I can’t say a negative thing about this.
“The Little Things” features the harmonica work of James Dalton. Dalton’s style really brings you back, recreating the mood and feel of a country long gone from this modern world. Together with Montrey, he transports us to the folk-tinged style of a simpler life.
Weaving The Basket has succeeded where many other projects get confused and drop the ball. As Mike says, “We chose this route because we felt it was the best way to convey the true feelings we had about these songs.” And I would have to agree with him; these songs are as described with the Thoreau example, intangible items worth more than monetary figures or sales quotas. They are true works of art, gems in the rough that have been presented to the listener for their own individual interpretation of value. Go find out for yourself.
Sets can be as long as necessary. Mostly originals from Mike's album and ...water... material, but some covers include:
Atlantic City - Bruce Springsteen
The Wall - Pink Floyd
You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome - Bob Dylan
Psycho Killer - Talking Heads
PDF RiderMMB One Sheet
There are no upcoming dates at this time.