It’s been a busy year for Montgomery Gentry. The country duo has been dividing time between working on new music in the studio and hitting the road for a steady stream of tour dates. Balancing both can be a challenge especially with Eddie Montgomery living in Kentucky and Troy Gentry in Tennessee, but the two make it work. There’s always the option of cutting back on touring, but both remain dedicated to getting out and doing those live shows.
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“We love it, man,” says Montgomery. “We love playing music, we love seeing people, and we love singing. And we want everybody who comes to see us to have a good time.”
The two are looking forward to ‘getting the party started’ at this year’s Carolina Country Music Festival. Montgomery Gentry will headline the Kick-off Concert Thursday night.
“It’s gonna to be fantastic,” Gentry says. “We’ve played Myrtle Beach before and had a great response. We’re looking forward to getting back down there.”
He also says there ‘may’ be a chance to share some of that new music. “Eddie and I are trying to get some of it into the show before we get down there. Hopefully everybody can hear the hits they’ve made famous for us, and a couple of new songs that’ll be on our new album coming out later this year.”
With or without new music, Montgomery Gentry’s hard-charging, high-energy shows are always full of surprises.
“When we hit the stage anything can happen and it usually does,” notes Eddie. “That’s the way we like it,” he adds, with a laugh.
The duo has been pleasing fans since hitting the country music scene in 1999 with the single “Hillbilly Shoes” from their debut album “Tattoos and Scars.” Since then they’ve followed with a steady stream of albums featuring proud-of-where-we-come from anthems like “My Town,” “Something to be Proud,” “Headlights” and more. Their music, with its Southern Rock influences, and lyrics that focus on working hard, staying true to family, standing up for American values, and having a little fun on the weekend, have struck a chord with fans both young and old.
“I think our music speaks to people,” Gentry explains. “We sing about the good, the bad, the ugly, and the party on the weekend. And I think our music hits everybody regardless of age.”
“With us, what you see is what you get,” Montgomery says, “and we’ve never backed up from that.”
That consistency has paid off. While music styles have shifted and other groups and artists have come and gone, Montgomery Gentry’s fan base has held steadfast.
The two have known each other a long time. Both grew up in Kentucky where Montgomery’s parents were musicians and Gentry’s father owned a bar. Montgomery, along with his brother John, and Gentry all played together in a band before the younger Montgomery (John Michael Montgomery) set off to pursue a solo career.
“We were friends before we became artists. It’s just kind of been one big family,” says Montgomery. “When we were putting that band together we always made sure we went over to the Grapevine because Troy’s dad always fed us.” He laughs and then adds, “You know honky tonk musicians don’t make a whole lot of money.”
That strong foundation built in those early days has carried the two through many career and personal challenges.
“In the ups and downs, we’ve been there, “Gentry says. “We’ve had each other’s backs and been support systems for each other’s families through everything we’ve been through.
Over the past 18 years Montgomery Gentry has marked a number of successes from a long list of awards such as Favorite New Country Artist and Vocal Duo of the Year, to being invited to join the Grand Ole Opry. And they’ve been incredibly honored by the acceptance of many of their music heroes like Charlie Daniels, Lynrd Skynrd, Randy Travis, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard.
“These new artists aren’t gonna be able to have the chance to meet legends like that. We got to meet ‘em, we got to play with them,” recalls Eddie. “I remember I was sitting on the bus one day and Merle Haggard called. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a joke at first because I’m a big Merle Haggard fan. I went running off the bus to the guys who were setting up and yelled, ‘Guess who’s on the phone! Merle Haggard!”
For Gentry, last year’s invitation to take part in a tribute concert for Randy Travis who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013 was especially meaningful. It allowed him to honor a country music legend who had inspired him so many years ago.
“When I saw him on the award shows, it was a defining moment for me. That’s when I said that’s what I want to do for a living,” Gentry remembers. “So to see him coming back with his health, we were flattered to be part of that.”
Montgomery and Gentry have always dedicated their time, effort, and music to giving back. They’re heavily involved in a wide number of charity events and are passionate supporters of the U.S. military. The duo has played a number of USO shows.
“This is the greatest country in the world and we don’t give it up enough for our great American heroes,” says Montgomery.
Through the highs and lows, Montgomery and Gentry have both worked to remain humble and remember where they came from.
“We’ve always been kind of grounded and when we start to lift off the ground,” Gentry says with a smile, “our wives tend to bring us back down fairly quickly.”
Along those lines, Montgomery and Gentry both know they owe their success to the people who’ve come to hear them play.
As Gentry says, “We’ve always been thankful to the people who come to see the live shows because without them they’re be no Montgomery Gentry.”
“We don’t call anybody fans, we call them friends,” adds Montgomery. “We’ve been very lucky over the years. We’ve had a lot of friends follow us and buy CDs, and we appreciate the hell out of that.”
He hopes to see a lot of ‘friends’ at the Kick-off Concert Thursday evening, June 8th. Country artist Brett Young is also performing that evening.