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story.lead_photo.caption Courtesy Photo Although he is a singer/songwriter, Ray LaMontagne says he enjoys arena performances, like the one June 12 at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion.

Ray LaMontagne is as erudite and soft-spoken as fans of his thoughtful lyrics would expect him to be.

"Why so many people always runnin' 'round

FAQ

Part of the Light Tour:

Ray LaMontagne

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. June 12; gates open at 6:30 p.m.

WHERE — Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers

COST — $46.50 & up

INFO — 443-5600

BONUS — Also appearing will be Neko Case.

"Looking for a happiness that can't be found?

"I don't know. ...

"For everyone resplendent in the wealth of kings

"Thousands upon thousands only suffering

"I don't know. ...

"I want to be part of the light

"Please let me be part of the light

"Our light."

LaMontagne's seventh studio album, "Part of the Light," was released May 18, and he started his big summer Part of the Light Tour on May 27. The music on the new CD was inspired, he says, by the state of the world he sees around him.

"A lot of these songs are really just a reaction to our culture these days," he says. "It feels -- like there's an illness; it's not healthy. And that's an understatement. The songs were coming together, and it seemed to be me talking to myself and reminding myself of what's important -- to be present in the moment, to appreciate my friendships.

"Life is so brief. And it's such a gift."

Not much has been written about LaMontagne's personal life, even though he's been performing since the turn of the 21st century. Born in New Hampshire, he was reportedly inspired by the Stephen Stills' song "Treetop Flyer," recorded a 10-song demo in the summer of 1999 and, in 2011, won his first Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album for "God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise." What he does say is couched in musings about his music.

"Everything we need to be content is within us, inherently," he says. "We all have it inside us -- God or whatever it is, I don't know. I don't say 'happy,' that's just a silly idea. But contentment is within reach for everybody. I just found myself reminding myself, trying to remember how beautiful life is, how wonderful it is to just to sit with your friends and talk.

"My wife [Sarah] and I have been together for 29 years, since we were 16, and I've known her since I was 8 years old," LaMontagne says. "'It's Always Been You' was just me reminding myself of how precious this existence is."

"Since the first Star split the black,

"split the silence too...

"Since the first dawn woke this Earth,

"and found it clothed in blue...

"Since the first bird-song was sung,

"as through the air it flew,

"It's been you...

"It's always been you..."

LaMontagne says all he can do, "as a human being, is try to put something positive into the world every day -- not in a gift card, Hallmark way, just keep from adding to the negativity of the world. And keep questioning why has the pendulum has swung so far in an unhealthy direction."

Although he is a singer/songwriter, LaMontagne says he enjoys the arena performances, like the one June 12 at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion.

"The big summer tour -- which I do with a band -- is really fun, and the energy's a little different," he says. "It's just a different experience than when I go out and do acoustic shows."

Asked about his legacy, LaMontagne finally answers very personally.

"I hope that I'm a good husband and friend and companion to my gal and a good friend and companion to my boys," he says, explaining that his older son, Sebastian, is in his third year of college, studying literature and working on his first novel, while his younger son, Tobias, plays rock 'n' roll guitar and drums and has founded a film company to make music videos -- including one for his dad that goes with "Such a Simple Thing" from "Part of the Light."

"Music is just expressing myself, like painting or anything else. If it has a life after I'm gone, I won't be here to know it. The important thing is really being here now for the people that I love the most."

NAN What's Up on 06/10/2018

Print Headline: Thoughtful Troubadour

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