The fertile music grounds of Austin, Texas has brought the world such uniquely talented guitar big shots as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Johnson. But the list doesn’t stop there; among many other specialists of the six string from that locale is a dude who stands out a little more than the others. I’m talking about Monte Montgomery.
For some reason, I see Montgomery regularly getting labeled “blues” but that really doesn’t begin to tell the story about his music. He has a style that’s more melodic mainstream rock, but incorporates elements of many other influences. His highly malleable voice can go from graceful to guttural within a half-measure. The material he plays is his own polished fare, as songcraft is something that he’s well versed in from growing up in the Texas Hill Country soaking in Texas icons like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, while picking up the pop sensibilities of seventies masters of the art like Lindsey Buckingham.
Those things alone would put him in singer-songwriter category, but then there’s this matter about his guitar playing. Armed with a battered Alvarez acoustic, Montgomery plays a very fluid, percussive style, with the sort of metal-guitar attitude that garnered him various consecutive “best acoustic guitar player” awards around the turn of the millennium.
All of these ingredients make for a nice live performance backed only by Phil Bass on drums and Chris Maresh on bass. Monte’s voice and guitar more than amply fills out the sound, however. One of the finer examples of this comes from the only live cut from his 1999 Mirror CD, a calypso flavored number called “When Will I.”
The song’s island beat along with Montgomery’s rhythmic singing establishes a nice groove, but when he goes into the extended instrumental break, he wrenches some pretty astonishing notes out of his acoustic box. It’s already an amazing listen, but has to be seen to be fully appreciated.
Seeing it isn’t such a chore, as luck would have it. The actual performance put on the record, taken from Austin City Limits, was also videotaped, and is now available on YouTube. Got eight minutes to spare? Monte Montgomery will make it well worth your time:
“One Track Mind” is a more-or-less weekly drool over a single song selected on a whim and a short thesis on why you should be drooling over it, too.