It has been more than seven years ago since Montgomery Gentry showed up on country radio with "Hillbilly Shoes," a hard-rocking single that caused a lot of radio programmers to keep it off the air.
The single has become a staple of a Montgomery Gentry show today, but in 1999, it only made it to No. 13 on the country charts.
"Our music has always been less radio-friendly. We've always kind of stepped outside of the lines," Eddie Montgomery said. "Sometimes when we first came out, people might have been a little scared to play us. They were asking themselves, 'Is this style going to hang around?' We've been lucky enough to have hard-core friends stick with us, and we've got a lot of friends in radioland."
"Friends" is Montgomery Gentry speak for fans. Montgomery and his pal, Troy Gentry, never refer to them as fans. Montgomery Gentry is known for post-show parties on its bus or hopping on a golf cart and driving around festival grounds to check out what their "friends" are up to.
"We've never been the kind of artist that just stays on our bus. We've always been very open. We'll sit down and drink some iced tea with someone, or we'll have some champagne," Montgomery said.
Now they're waiting for album number six to hit stores on Tuesday. "Some People Change," the title track, is the first single off the album.
They're also in the midst of a headlining tour featuring the Wreckers and Phil Vassar. They'll be in Chicago tonight, but tomorrow the Jim Beam buses carrying Eddie, Troy, and their band will be rolling into Toledo for a
7:30 p.m. show at the SeaGate Convention Centre.
"We wanted a high-energy show, and we're a big fan of Phil's. Anyone who's seen Phil in concert, he's unbelievable. And the Wreckers are unbelievable. For the guys out there, they're pretty easy on the eyes too," Montgomery said with a mischievous chuckle.
Montgomery Gentry's set list includes hits like "Daddy Won't Sell the Farm," "She Couldn't Change Me," "Gone," "Cold One Coming On," "My Town," "If You Ever Stop Loving Me," and "Something to Be Proud Of," but the Kentucky natives are also incorporating some of the songs off of the new album.
"We're really excited about the new stuff. It took us about a year and a half to put it together. This album is a little more personal than the rest. People who have heard it tell us it's the best we've done," Montgomery said.
The album includes "If You Wanna Keep an Angel," which Gentry wrote about his wife.
The project also includes "Clouds," written by Montgomery about his father and son.
"I lost my dad in 1994, and I lost my son in an accident in 1991. I've never talked about it before or wrote a song about it. One day I happened to be at [songwriter] Jeffrey Steele's place, on the front porch, and these lyrics were rolling around in my head. I told Jeffrey the story about it, and we wrote it in about five to eight minutes. I really didn't want to put it on the album. I wanted to pitch it to an R&B artist like Mary Blige, but my label heard it, and they said, 'You've got to put this song on the album.'•"
Montgomery Gentry, along with guests Phil Vassar and The Wreckers, will be in concert at the SeaGate Convention Centre tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $28.75 and can be purchased at the SeaGate box office, the box office phone at 419-321-5007, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by phone at 419-474-1313.
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