The whiskey was flowing as usual on Nashville’s Lower Broad, but Wednesday night (Aug. 28) it was for a very specific reason. Award-winning duo Montgomery Gentry crammed into The Stage bar with a couple hundred friends, family, songwriters and other music industry types to celebrate two sales milestones and a brand new album.
Sony Nashville chief Allen Butler and marketing guru Mike Kraski presented Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry with plaques commemorating platinum sales (1 million copies) of the duo’s 1999 debut, Tattoos & Scars, and gold sales (500,000 copies) of the follow-up, 2001′s Carrying On. The albums produced the hits “Hillbilly Shoes,” “Lonely and Gone,” “She Couldn’t Change Me” and “Cold One Comin’ On.”
“I never thought we’d have gotten this far,” Gentry told CMT News. “It’s very flattering. Eddie and I have worked very hard to get where we are, but we’re overachievers. We love to work and to hit the road, so hopefully we’ll have many more years of success ahead of us.”
The shindig also served as a release party for My Town, Montgomery Gentry’s third album for Columbia Records. The title cut has cracked the Top 20 on the Billboard country singles chart, and Montgomery says that’s due to its universal theme.
“Whether you live in Los Angeles or in Kentucky, everybody has a special place in their heart for where they grew up,” Montgomery said. “The guys just nailed it on the music [in the studio], and it rocks. It’s got that thing where you can hook into it and say, ‘Man, I can relate to that.’”
The rest of the album revisits the unsweetened, real-life themes and barn-busting hell-raisers favored by Montgomery Gentry on their last two outings . The duo enlisted the songwriting talents of noted tunesmiths Jeffrey Steele, Kenny Beard, Rivers Rutherford, Tom Shapiro and Craig Wiseman, and they worked for the first time with producer Blake Chancey (Dixie Chicks). In “Speed,” a heartbroken guy tries to buy a muscle car so he can outrun old ghosts. “Scarecrow” is the lament of a young farmer not content to waste away in the fields. “Hell Yeah” zeroes in on the fans whose only escape from life is to pump their fists in the air while someone plays it loud and long. Although the Montgomery Gentry repertoire could be interpreted as the manly antidote for the mushy ballads currently common to country radio, the guys say they aren’t carrying a testosterone flag.
“We’ve never really looked at it that way,” Gentry explains. “We’re just doing the same thing that our heroes, Waylon Jennings, Charlie Daniels and Hank Jr., did. They sang about everyday life.”
Lately, everyday life for Montgomery Gentry is on a tour bus. The pair toured with Brooks & Dunn ‘s Neon Circus last year, and they’ve just wrapped up a string of dates opening for Kenny Chesney. In between playing live and working on the album, Gentry and his wife, Angie, are awaiting the birth of their first child together, a girl due in December.
“I can’t wait to teach her things,” Gentry says, grinning. “And not teach her some things, like about the music business.”