James Montgomery Interview
(James Montgomery Blues Band)
For 20 years now, James Montgomery has been singing the blues — only
in his case, it's really paid off!!
He's toured with Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, and The Allman
Bros. He's jammed onstage with B.B. King, Charlie Daniels, Gregg Allman, Peter
Wolf, Bonnie Raitt and Mick Jagger.
Montgomery's band has included a series of musicians that reads like a Who's
Who in Rock 'n' Roll. His guitar players alone have included Billy Squier,
Rod Stewart's Jeff Golub, Taylor Dayne's Nunzio Signore, Mitch Ryder's Jim
McCarty, and Roy Clark's Jeff Pevar.
And if that’s not enough, James hooked up with Alex Taylor (brother of
James, Kate, and Livingston) to form the East Coast Funkbusters. Eventually,
Dan Ackroyd and Paul Shaffer joined the band and they toured Canada.
When Ackroyd put the Blues Bros. back together to open the Hard Rock Cafe in
Dallas, Montgomery was his personal choice on harmonica, in a band that included
all the original Blues Bros.; the Letterman Band, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and
Carl Perkins, to name just a few.
If you have the idea by now that James Montgomery has played a pretty important
part in rock — you're right.
James Montgomery is currently touring in support of his latest CD — "The
Oven Is On" (Tone Cool Records) — and boy, is it hot!
We spoke with James Montgomery about his life in music.
Q. This is your first album in a couple of years. What have
you been up to, between recording projects?
A. Basically, I never really came off of the road. I had different bands I
was touring with. I spent a lot of time playing down in the Caribbean, and
actually, at one point we did a whole set of Caribbean style music. I was flying
singers from the Virgin Islands up here (Rhode Island) and we were going out
as Mighty Monte and The Mambos. But, that was just kind of like, as a fun thing,
interspersed with our regular touring schedule. I put a band together with
Alex Taylor called the East Coast Funkbusters. Ackroyd actually hooked up with
us in that project for a little while. He wasn't a permanent member, but a
member from time to time and we toured up in Canada with that band. Even though
I wasn't recording, I was doing a lot of writing, and touring around New England.
I did some television commercials for Dodge, where they used me as the principle
actor, and I did the music for them, which was also fun.
Q. You no longer call yourself The James Montgomery Blues
A. Yeah. We did that a long time ago, because we got to a point when we started
writing our own songs where as far as we were concerned, they were blues songs.
I consider everything I write to be a blues song. It’s so deep in the
roots of what I do. You get these blues aficionados in the audience. They started
comin' up to us saying, "I don't know why you call yourselves a blues band
because the third number you played wasn't blues. The fifth number you played
wasn't blues. So, we kind of just took that off of the band, then just to save
us a lot of aggravation dealing with these aficionados. And even though it's
not officially the name of the band anymore, we pretty much didn't get rid
of it. Half of the gigs we show up for are advertised as the James Montgomery
Blues Band. It really doesn't bother me one way or another, how they want to
refer to us.
Q. You still see an audience for the blues?
A. Oh yeah. I was with Robert Cray last night and the place was jammed. It
was like a 2-3,000 seater, but it was full of people Monday night. I think
it's a fairly healthy time for blues oriented stuff right now. There seems
to be a lot of little clubs opening up again that specialize in blues. And,
that's always a good sign. There's been resurgence, but I don't think it's
Q. How did you get interested in music?
A. I saw a jug band, play when I was either in junior high or high school.
I guess I probably was in the tenth grade. I saw a couple of guys playing
harmonica in that band. I used to dress up as Elvis, and in fact I won a
talent competition when I was in elementary school. The other people in the
contest actually had skills and talent. They played piano, clarinet. They
danced. They sang. These were some pretty talented youngsters. I got up,
and pantomimed and lip-synched to Elvis Presley's 'Hound Dog' and won the
contest. So, I figured right then, look at this, you don't even have to have
talent and you can still wow these people onstage. So, I saw this jug band,
and said, yeah, that’s what I want to do.
Official Website: JamesMontgomery.com
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