Toying with the rich possibilities of a dual-sax sound infused with keys and sturdy emotion, Mike Montrey Band can slide from buoyancy to lament in the space of a few seconds.
The sound of Mike Montrey Band (The MMB) 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 debut album, a northern New Jersey dream has turned into a Northeast sensation.
The MMB consists of frontman Mike Montrey on vocals and guitar, Anthony “Duke” Duca on bass and vocals, Rob Smith on drums and backing vocals, Karl Dietel on keyboards and backing vocals, and Adam Garnys and Hayden Wright on saxophone.
The new album, Weaving The Basket, is now available, and was recorded live in front of a studio audience on January 29, 2011 at Retromedia Studios in Red Bank, NJ. And it has received great critical acclaim: "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. 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." - Aquarian Weekly (NJ)
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 The 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.