Music Scene: Riff Raff, Greensky Bluegrass, Ryan Montbleau

Riff Raff

Born in Houston to a maid and a Vietnam vet coping with post-traumatic stress disorder, Horst Simco first found solace from the unsteadiness of home life on the basketball court, starting as a shooting guard on his high school team before dropping out in his senior year.

He left Houston for Minnesota shortly thereafter to live with his ailing father, by that time stricken with tonsil cancer, and earned a GED to attend community college and study liberal arts.

But magnetism toward the Houston hip-hop culture eventually drew him back to Texas, where the aspiring rapper began to cultivate his flamboyant image and persona.

His eye for attention-grabbing behavior and style ultimately landed Simco on MTV’s reality makeover show “From G’s to Gents” under the name Riff Raff and a bizarre turn as part of the rap/comedy trio Three Loco, alongside Simon Rex (aka Dirt Nasty) and Andy Milonakis.

By 2012, Simco had spent a year on Soulja Boy’s label SODMG and worked on collaborations with Chief Keef, Diplo, Harry Fraud and Action Bronson.

Under the Riff Raff moniker, Simco has since been featured on tracks with Katy Perry, Far East Movement, The Alchemist and others.

His latest album, “Neon Icon,” was released last year with featured MCs that include Mac Miller, Paul Wall, Childish Gambino, Slim Thug and Mike Posner, among others. The album peaked at the No. 22 spot on the Billboard 200.

Riff Raff will perform Friday at the Music Farm, 32 Ann St. Tickets are $30-$250 and can be purchased online at or at the Music Farm box office. Doors open at 9 p.m. with the show starting at 10 p.m.

Go to or call 577-6989 for more information.

Now entering its 15th year, the progressive bluegrass quintet Greensky Bluegrass is finally seeing its years of touring and recording achieve success on the charts.

After a string of albums that never placed on the charts, Greensky Bluegrass’s 2011 release, “Handguns,” ascended to No. 3 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart, while last year’s effort, “If Sorrows Swim,” claimed the chart’s top spot.

The Michigan-based group takes a unique approach to traditional bluegrass, calling on jam band, modern country and folk for unused dimensions and a more melodic spirit of anthemic pop than Appalachian bluegrass preservationists. The band’s rarity in arrangements and overall sound has caught the attention of its peers and led to collaborations with Railroad Earth, Sam Bush, The Hackensaw Boys, Bill Kreutzmann and others.

Greensky Bluegrass will perform at The Pour House, 1977 Maybank Highway, with The Last Bison for a special two-night stand Thursday and Friday. Tickets for each night are $18 in advance and $20 the day of the show, with two-night passes available for $34. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with the show starting at 8:30 p.m. both nights.

Go to or call 571-4343 for more information.

He’s called a master by some, a virtuoso bent on perfecting his craft and dedicated to the waning practice of live performance. That’s Ryan Montbleau in reduction, the blues, funk and folk guitarist and singer that has made a niche for himself in the blues world since cutting his teeth in Boston nearly 16 years ago.

Montbleau began as a baby-faced college student with a gift he had long undervalued, having never considered playing guitar as a career until he enrolled at Villanova University and brought along a guitar he’d been given on his 9th birthday.

He relocated to Boston after graduation and began booking gigs at local coffee houses and small area venues, enlisting a percussionist from time to time but mostly just keeping his music for himself, in creation and performance. But his fluidity on the guitar in both electric and acoustic settings, as well as his surprising vocal and songwriting abilities, made him a sought-after front man around the Boston area.

By 2005, Montbleau was heading the Ryan Montbleau Band, a funky blues-and-folk quintet with a cast of area musicians.

The band, and Montbleau as a solo act, took to the road following the release of its 2006 debut and has slowed little since, performing an average of 200 shows a year that have included opening legs with Ani DiFranco, John P. Hammond, Martin Sexton and Rodrigo y Gabriela.

The road work has paid off. In 2012, Montbleau was nominated for an MTV Music Award for Best Concert Experience.

The Ryan Montbleau Band will perform Sunday at The Pour House, 1977 Maybank Highway, with the Mike Dillon Band. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 the day of the show, and are available online at Doors open at 8:30 p.m. with the show starting at 9:30 p.m.

Go to or call 571-4343 for more information.