Posted by: ryanmontbleau | March 9, 2012

Have I made it?

It was a Facebook message from a friend of a friend that sparked me to write this blog. That and looking at the van and trailer outside the Red Roof Inn just now in Kalamazoo, MI.


gotta tell ya what ur doing has many ppl crossing their fingas and holdin’ thier breath till YOU think you’ve made it. personally, u made it a long time ago. keep on keepin on. :-)”


The question of whether or not you’ve “made it” is one that you turn over in your head from the get-go, I think. When you start out in this business, you have some unrealistic expectations. But you know you’re supposed to be humble, and so you are. I think I’ve always held the belief that there really is no making it, at least not in the usual sense. It’s all about the journey, etc., etc. You don’t just become rich and famous one day or night and say “OK! Everything is perfect now.” I think most people know that.


But the question of when I think I’ve actually made it is very interesting to me right now. I’m going through some sort of transition in my confidence as of late. It’s weird and maybe contradictory to say this, but at times I think I’ve sort of been humble to the point where it can affect me and my career negatively. I get wishy-washy in my fight for people’s ears. It’s a fine line as a performer. You need to practice humility, but you also need to be the man up there, you know? You need to believe that you’re good. Damn good. Otherwise, why are you doing this?


So I’ve been trying to “find my feet.” I’ve been trying to stand up straight, to stand up tall. Hell, just standing up in general has been a big deal for me. Two weeks ago I played my first gig ever where I didn’t sit down the entire show. It’s liberating. I stand all night every night now. I do a little goofy dance here and there, I move around. I observe the crowd and I sing out as strong as I can. Everything is starting to loosen up, and this is a much needed transition.


OK, a little off topic there, but some factors popped into my head tonight that make me think I’ve made it. One is the vehicle we’re traveling in. We bought a great, huge, new van in the fall. Early this year we pimped the hell out of it with a leather couch and amazingly comfy seats and bunks to nap on in the back. We pull all of our gear in a trailer.  This is such a far cry from some of the vans of years past, I tell you that’s making it.


The guy who built all of this in our van, and the guru of the trailer is also the guru of our sound every night. His name is Luke Milanese and he’s the next reason that tells me I’ve made it. I can’t really imagine a better sound engineer. Luke is special and has a special way of identifying weaknesses and making things better and better and better. We also travel with our own soundboard now and Luke wields that thing like a powerful weapon. We stream the shows online every night. We offer pristine recordings right after the show. We have a serious operation going on here.


And I will take our guitar player over anyone’s. And our bassist. And our keyboard player. And our percussionist. And our drummer.


And I mean that. Seeing a bunch of professionals assembled around me night after night, kicking ass at their jobs, showing years of hard work on their instruments paying off– that’s the real stuff that tells me I’ve made it.


I have to go to bed so I won’t even get into the other thousand reasons that I think I may have made it. But I’ll leave you with one:


You just financed a record of mine that no one has heard.  And then some!  There is no adequate way to show my gratitude for that, there is nothing I can say except…


I can’t wait for you to hear it.  And I can’t wait to make another one.



  1. Acknowledging excellence and being appreciative and thankful for it- that’s making it, for sure. This was a joy to read. Keep learning, earning, yearning!

  2. I know youve made it because…..You literally change peoples lives one song at a time. You altered my way of life 5+ years ago when Shannon played -How Many Times -one day for me. I’ve never looked at life the same again. Your music brightens peoples worlds everyday Ryan….. I say youve Made It! Thank you for that.

  3. you have ‘made it’ when you treat people with love and caring you seem to care about others feelings and respect the other side of the ‘coin’ never take for granted the love you are blessed to share…the God given talent and of course your health=gifts from your creator

  4. Brother Bleau, indeed you “made it” a long time ago. You’ve already achieved sooo much! I will NEVER forget many years ago, at Pearl St. watching you stand up on stage for what I thought was the first time, SANS HAT, no less. Here’s a journey moment – DON’T STOP BELIEVING!” Thank you for taking me along for the ride with you and the Bleau crew. Proud and glad to have been able to contribute to your success. See ya at the next gig.

  5. Ryan, I am so touched to read this. As you find no words to effectively express your feelings about your fans & listeners, nor do I, about the impact that your music & RMB has on my life. I know I say these things almost every time I communicate with you. I hope that doesn’t diminish the power I mean to impart to you when I communicate them.
    Not only are you a VERY blessed individual, you are a BLESSING to so many. It is so thrilling to see others share how your music has touched them. The variety of people who laud your works speaks volumes about the breadth and depth of your (and your bandmates’) giftings.
    I know I don’t know you on a personal level, only as acquaintances. You, and the guys, all make time to just be regular joes to all of us and that in turn helps us feel special and validated. Too many people walk through life never being told they are valuable, so that time you spend with your fans and the way you guys conduct yourselves around us speaks volumes about your/their character(s). I would wager to guess that everyone who is devoted to your music has a story – one that tells how your music touched them and helped them. To God goes the Glory that you guys are ambassadors for mutual care to others.
    It can be like a drug, that music of yours. And your live performances are so outstanding. Yeah, I’ve only been to 8 shows, but not one of them has in any way been a let down. Additionally, I have heard the live streaming of many of your events…all incredible.
    You always manage to remember from whence you came and how you got where you are – as long as you continue to do that you will remain humble.

    My friend, you HAVE made it.

    • Sweet Cindy – I write this as I listen to his latest “For Higher” cd (stumbled upon this blog while searching for the words to “Away We Go”). You pretty much summed it all up, for me personally, in your post. I haven’t been so moved by music since I was a kid. Ryan Montbleau’s voice and the music he creates is spellbounding. My 24 year old daughter turned me on to him last year and I’ve been a fanatic ever since. We saw a show together this past winter. I love how he interacted with the audience – it was a blast! I was smiling so hard I couldn’t whistle when he encouraged us to! It was quite possibly the best concert I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to so many over the years. Who knew it would take me this long to have a favorite band! We already have our tickets for another show in June. If you’ve got the talent to move different generations in the way he does, man, that’s makin it.

  6. I’d say you made it the moment you were able to pay your bills by touring the country and doing what you love. The rest is gravy.

  7. Ryan, you should be very proud of your accomplishments. You have MANY more years to accomplish much more. Thanks for the music! (Matt- Eric the Baker’s Cousin that lives in San Diego)

  8. ryan, i can still remember seeing this timid, adorable little guy sitting on a stool at my friends christmas party so many years ago. you sang your heart out and i remember the conversations…
    “who is this kid?”
    “he is only 15?!?!?!”
    “wow, he is a terrific singer/songwriter”
    and many more comments like that.
    i dont remember hearing too much for a while, but then *poof* you got yourself a band and a van and put in the hard work needed to create that buzz in our scene. i am thrilled to have gotten to see you grow into the wonderful man and tremendous musician that you are.
    seems like it was yesterday that i went to see you at the mad fish grille in gloucester and now you easily sell out the ‘dise!
    your songs talk to us and mean so much even though they are “yours” and that, imho, means that you have made it.
    i am so happy that you guys can make a living making the music that makes us so happy. i hope your band name keeps getting bigger and bigger in all the festival posters!
    please DO keep on keeping on! =-)

  9. You’ve made it and continue to make it better. You’ve hit all the nails firmly on the head. I’ve whispered it a few times to the wife, something like “Ryan is good and personable and smart, he needs to get up off that chair and radiate that personality.” You’ve surrounded yourself with some INCREDIBLE musicians, but even better/luckier, the dudes are some really decent human beings. What would RMB be without that music? Matty/Jason/The new guy (Lyle)/ and too infrequently Yahuba and James solos peppering the tunes make the music all that it is. Not until we started getting the streams and putting a headset on did I fully realize how much credit goes to Luke (and he’s handy with a drill and saw?), that’s a guy after my own heart. You’ve made it…now lets make it crazy style!

  10. You make it every day! I’d love to hear more about how standing has changed you–internally–as a performer (and how you got to that decision)? I know at least three musicians that have made that transition, and I find that process intriguing…

  11. Humility in someone with talent is endearing. I was listenting to the 2007 Bottleneck (2/6/07) show after not listening much to the RMB in a while and relmembered why I fell in love with your music. There is more than a touch of humility in the presentation, but there is also a great deal of confidence in the musicianship and songcraft. Let the music pronounce your competience, confidence and ability of the band and the material.

    Now, writing a bunch of new songs like the ones you were showcasing in 2007 would not hurt either. But that’s just the opinion of one fan.

  12. stumbled on this and glad i did.

    clearly the moment you made it was when you made an appearance on a radio show called “Live Live” on small community (pirate) radio station in allston in 2002. undeniable turning point.

    but for real, since i met you then, it has been a treat to watch from afar as you do your thing. the music has continued to sound fresh all this time. congrats!

    ps. next time you are in SF and are looking for a band to share the bill, holler.
    -david (who hosted live live 10 years ago)

  13. No worries brother cuz you were Already There a long time ago!! For Kelly & I, we learned that it’s “all been done before” as we listened intrigued & unaware to the sound of what has become our Fairy Tale Soundtrack! Thank You for that & in return allowing us to help finance Heavy On The Vine and your “making more music” …..and hopefully for years to come into the sunset – sunshine ALL the time!!! 🙂

  14. I can’t wait to share this with the man that turned me on to your music. He’s my oldest friend, a musician, and always “the man”. He’s presently down about where he should be vs. where he is in life, and ironically, this evening, we had a conversation where I challenged him to redefine what success is “supposed to be” and to really look around and feel the little wins along the way. It truly is the journey.

    On a different note, your writing voice is beautiful and honest. Reading your writing is like having a conversation with such feeling. I’m so glad I found your music, but equally happy that I found your voice here.

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