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Montgomery Gentry: Here’s To You Tour
Originally conceived to mark Montgomery Gentry’s 20th anniversary, their dynamic new album Here’s To You now represents the triumphant start to a new legacy.
On September 8, 2017, Troy Gentry died in a helicopter crash at the age of 50. The new collection, which was recorded before his death, serves as a reminder of the iconic pair’s powerful presence and also points to fruitful future for Eddie Montgomery and the Montgomery Gentry brand.
The album’s title, “Here’s To You,” is both a tribute to Troy and to the band’s rabid fans. “We don’t call them fans, we call them friends,” says Eddie. “They’re who got us our deal.”
Produced by Noah Gordon (Colt Ford) and Shannon Houchins (Brantley Gilbert) the album is one of Montgomery Gentry’s best. “It’s probably the greatest album we’ve done since Tattoos & Scars,” says Eddie Montgomery. “Coming up on our 20th anniversary we wanted to put out a killer album. We hunted and hunted for the right songs. In the studio we were feeling really loose. It was just beautiful and a lot of fun.”
There’s another reason Eddie believes Here’s To You is one of their best: Troy’s sweet, high tenor was on full display. “I’ve heard him sing since he was a teenager,” says Eddie, “and Troy’s soul came out on this album. It’s the best he’s ever sang.”
While there are plenty of future Montgomery Gentry fan favorites on the new collection, it also represents a more mature sound for the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame members. “Being on the road for 20 years and being together for 30 and all the things that we’ve been through, this album is about where we were at in life,” says Eddie.
The album’s cornerstone and first single, “Better Me,” is a real-life representation of where Troy was with his faith and family. “When Troy heard ‘Better Me’ he said, ‘I really want to sing this song, Eddie’,” Montgomery recalls. “I said, Have at it, brother.” The song, written by Jamie Moore, Josh Hoge and Randy Montana, fittingly debuted at Troy’s celebration of life at the Grand Ole Opry House.
There are other songs of redemption on the album, including “All Hell Broke Loose,” which features Eddie’s rough hewn baritone and tells the tale of a love-inspired turn around. Like his buddy Troy, Eddie knew he had to sing it. “I was never a big love song kind of guy,” he says, “but it fit me. It reminds me of when I met my wife. I was like, ‘Wow, this song is me right here’.”
“Crazies Welcome,” penned by Brad Warren, Brett Warren, Lance Miller and Jessi Alexander, which features Eddie’s earthy tones, celebrates those of us who don’t have it all together, which is to say all of us.
“Needing A Beer,” co-written by Bobby Pinson and Aaron Raitiere, is classic Montgomery Gentry, paying tribute to unsung heroes, including policemen, firemen, the military and teachers, among others. “It’s what we’re about and it’s what everybody that comes to see us is about,” Eddie says with blue-collar conviction. “We couldn’t imagine not cutting the song.”
His sentiment is completely understandable if you know the genesis of Montgomery Gentry. Their popularity is no doubt due in large part to Troy and Eddie’s personal connection as well as their close connection with their fans. “Nashville didn’t put this duo together,” says Eddie. “Me and Troy did. We were friends and then we became a duo.”
“Even though I played with [my brother] John Michael for awhile, Troy and I always ended up on stage together,” Eddie recalls. “We played fundraisers and honky tonks and we sang from our souls.”
Fans quickly appreciated the band’s energetic stage show. “We’re about the working class,” says Eddie. “People would come in and have a drink because they were getting divorced or they were having a drink because they weren’t getting divorced. Or somebody was getting a promotion and they were having a party or someone was getting fired and they were having a party.
“We had a quite a following and the record label said, ‘if you can do this here maybe you can do it everywhere’,” he continues.
The Philip Eugene O’Donnell, Buddy Owens, Jenee Flenor and Wade Kirby-penned “Drink Along Song” is an instant MG classic. “We started doing that song live and we just knew before it was even cut that it was a hit,” Eddie explains. “By the time we’d get to the second chorus people were singing it back to us. When they do that and it’s the first time they’ve heard the song, you’ve got a hit.”
“That’s The Thing About America,” penned by Craig Wiseman, Jeffrey Steele and Shane Minor, celebrates our diversity in a divisive time. “I love exactly what it says and it’s so true,” Eddie says of the song’s message. “To me music heals all and I’d love to find that song that heals this country tomorrow. Maybe this is it.”
The quirky but catchy “King Of The World” was written by Troy Jones. “Our manager brought us that song and said, ‘It’s way out there, but I want to play it for you’,” Eddie remembers. “When I heard it I immediately thought of my neighbor. I call him ‘my crazy ass Cajun buddy’ and this song is him.”
“Get Down South,” written by John Wiggins, Bob Moffat, Clint Moffat and Troy Johnson, is a dirt road anthem that will resonate with rural American fans and encourage city-dwellers to get in touch with their redneck side.
With 20 plus charted singles, the Kentucky-born duo earned Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music awards as well as a GRAMMY nomination with undeniable blue-collar anthems such as “Hell Yeah,” “My Town,” and “Hillbilly Shoes.” They’ve notched five No. 1 singles (“If You Ever Stop Loving Me,” “Something To Be Proud Of,” “Lucky Man,” “Back When I Knew It All” and “Roll With Me”) and were inducted as Grand Ole Opry members in 2009. The duo, whose trademark sound combined Southern Rock and Country, achieved Platinum certification on three of their albums and Gold certification on three others.
Despite Troy’s passing, the show will go on, according to Eddie. “We talked about it a long time ago. We both said, ‘If one of us goes down, we want the MG brand to keep going. I will continue to honor him and our friends.”
With the release of Here’s To You the band’s legacy remains solidly intact and a robust touring schedule will ensure that the music that they labored over for two years will be shared with old and new “friends” alike. Two thousand and eighteen will no doubt be celebrated and remembered as the next chapter for the kindred spirits who pledged to continue their musical journey and put their friends first no matter what.