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Montgomery Gentry - hard work, hard liquor, wailing guitars

Friday, September 13, 2002

A lot of country music lovers complain about the hybrid sounds that have been coming out of Nashville for the past decade -- music that sounds like the kind of pop rock bands like Foreigner and their ilk used to make. Then along came Montgomery Gentry, a duo who crossed real country music sentiments with the deep-fried rock 'n' roll of bands like the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

These are hybrid songs that celebrate hard work and hard liquor the way country music used to, but do it while five guitars wail away.

Montgomery Gentry performed before a crowd of about 1,500 at the SEMO District Fair Thursday night.

The concert started with a siren sounding and lights flashing against an American flag backdrop and only slowed for an occasional ballad. Eddie Montgomery flashed his devilish smile and Troy Gentry played his Jim Beam electric guitar. Blessed with strong voices and charm and a snappy five-piece band, they made you want to watch and listen.

Though the sound was marred somewhat by bass distortion, Montgomery Gentry gave the audience everything they came to hear and more.

This is a band that stands up against urban sprawl one minute, parties "All Night Long" the next and pays for it -- the moody "There's a Cold One Comin' On," "Lonely and Gone" and "She Couldn't Change Me" -- eventually.

A high point of the show was "My Town," currently No. 14 on the Billboard country chart and the title song from their latest CD. Sung with a catchy chorus, the tune artfully evokes the place every one grew up, at least in our minds:

Where I ran off 'cos I got mad/An' it came to blows with my old man.

Where I came back to settle down/It's where they'll put me in the ground:

This is my town.

Another standout was Gentry's red-blooded rendition of the lusty "Good Clean Fun," off the new CD. A bluesy rocker co-written by the Allmans' Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts, the tune began "I'm on the prowl" and never let up, just like Montgomery Gentry.

sblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182


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