At the onset of the 2000s there were two constants in the burgeoning career of Montgomery Gentry.
They earned the first of 11 consecutive Vocal Duo of the Year nominations from the Country Music Association and Top Vocal Duo by the Academy of Country Music. There was also a string of performances in Las Vegas every October in conjunction with the PBR World Finals.
“We used to be, I reckon, their head band,” said co-founder Eddie Montgomery. “We used to play the event every year in Las Vegas every October. We used to hang out with them guys a bunch. Knew them all.”
After a brief hiatus, Montgomery and collaborator Troy Gentry are set to release their brand new album “Folks Like Us” on June 9, but not before returning to Vegas.
The album is the eighth studio release of their 16-year career.
More importantly, they’re reconnecting with old friends on Friday, May 22, when they headline the first of three days of the Cowboy Spring Break.
“When we hit the stage anything can happen and it usually does, but they’re going to hear some old stuff, some new stuff,” Montgomery said. “It’s pretty wild man. We look up and we’re two hours deep into the show and a lot of places don’t want you to play that long, so we have to cut it back.”
That’s certainly not the case at the MGM Resorts, where the party is expected to go well into the night.
“We’ll do a thing where we do some of the early stuff – a string of hits – and just do some of the new stuff and something of everything from all our CD’s we’ve had out,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery Gentry released their debut album “Tattoos & Scars” in 1999 and scored their first hit single “Hillbilly Shoes.” They followed with a pair of singles, “Lonely and Gone” and “Daddy Won’t Sell the Farm,” which established the duo’s distinctive southern rock influence.
After releasing “Carrying On” in 2001 and their third album, “My Town,” in 2003, the Kentucky natives were enjoying the success of back-to-back platinum-selling albums when their fourth album, “You Do Your Thing,” spurred a pair of No. 1 singles—“If You Ever Stop Loving Me” and “Something to be Proud Of.”
After releasing their first greatest hits package – “Something to be Proud Of: The Best of 1999-2005” – they released “Some People Change” (2006), “Back When I Knew It All” (2008) and “Rebels on the Run” (2011).
“Folks Like Us” will be their first album in four years. Like the PBR, which is in its 22nd year, the success of Montgomery Gentry has become a “generational thing.”
Longtime fans, who discovered the duo early in its career, are now introducing their children to their music much like the PBR and the Western way of life, which is a family oriented culture.
“It’s pretty cool,” Montgomery said. “We’re just rocking up and down the road having fun touring. We’re road dogs.”
He added, “To still be in the game is pretty damn cool. I ain’t going to lie about it. I think we’ve been around the world two or three times, so it’s pretty unbelievable.”
Another of the common bonds that has brought the duo and the PBR back together is the idea that they share a common core when it comes to each other’s audience.
“To me, we’re for the common folk,” Montgomery said. “We’re for the working class and let me tell you there ain’t no harder worker than a cowboy.”
Much like the PBR athletes have been recognized for their accessibility, Montgomery Gentry have a longstanding tradition of referring to their audience not as fans, but as friends.
“(The PBR) are big into that and so are we,” Montgomery explained. “We all like to live life and have a good time, man, and to me, whether it’s the music industry or the bull riding industry or whatever, man, the PBR, it’s exciting and it’s fun and it’s like a big family when you get out here. You have family all around the world that we love to hang with and they love to hang with us. Whether we’re drinking ice tea or (whisky).
“I remember when (the PBR) were first starting it up and getting it off the ground cause we knew them then and … you want to see them and meet them just like the music artist.”
But it’s not just another show for Montgomery.
He follows the sport.
“I watch it on TV,” Montgomery said. “I’ll tell you man, it takes a big set to get on a bull, especially the bulls they ride. I mean, they are, well, as they say, ‘Rank bulls.’”
Some of the names have changed since Montgomery Gentry last performed in Vegas with the PBR.
The likes of Ty Murray and Jim Sharp, along with Justin McBride and Chris Shivers, have retired and bull riders like Silvano Alves and Guilherme Marchi dominate the rankings with J.B. Mauney and newcomer Matt Triplett.
That just gives both guys – Montgomery and Gentry – an opportunity to meet new riders and make some new friends.
“We like to sit back, get their take on life and do a little bullshitting,” said Montgomery, who laughed at the idea of sharing some flavored moonshine from their own private reserve they travel with.
“Yeah, well, I’ll tell you man, we’ve been known to carry a little bit of that around with us,” he continued, “and, I’ll tell you, we’ve been known to do a little sipping. We like to have a little fun. We like to live life after the job gets done and just hang with all our friends out there. That’s what it’s all about.
“Life’s pretty short and I want to live every second of it.”