Fame and fortune can easily change an individual. But after having sold over 18 million albums and having 36 hit singles throughout his career since his first hit in 1992, renowned country musician John Michael Montgomery said he still holds community close to his heart.
“I still live at home where I was raised at and everything and I’m a big community guy,” Montgomery said.
As one of the stops of a tour fundraising for Firefighters and the Fraternal Order of Police, Montgomery took the stage for two separate concerts in the Morrow Field House on Sunday to play for the Butler County Fraternal Order of Police’s First Annual Country Music Show. During the 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. shows, Montgomery played for the crowd some of his most well known hits, like “I Love the Way You Love Me,” “I Swear,” “Sold” and “Be My Baby Tonight.”
Montgomery said he enjoys the cause the national tour is fundraising for, because of the importance of local firefighters and police officers.
“I think anytime you can help out your local police and firemen, you’re a huge part of keeping a community together,” he said.
As he talked about his accomplishments in between concerts, Montgomery reminisced on his past.
“In the music world, most of my accomplishments were back in the ‘90s,” he said. “Coming where I came from—I lived in trailer parks and old farm homes in a musical family, we lived like gypsies—and being able to get a record deal was something that somebody in my position back then never dreamed of happening. But that’s what this great country does is it allows you to dream, and sometimes those dreams come true, and it happened for me, and twenty years later I’m still on the road living like a gypsy.”
Yet with all of his accomplishments, Montgomery said his main priority at heart, first and foremost, is being a family man.
“I think my biggest accomplishment obviously is, I’ve got a couple of teenagers and they’re going to be in college here just in a [bit],” he said. “My daughter’s a sophomore, and my son is getting ready to be a freshman, and I think trying to be a successful parent is still out to be debated obviously, which as any parent would tell you, you raise kids, and you just try to raise them in a wonderful country and raise them to be successful in whatever they do and to be good persons and appreciate this great country they’re in, and you want to be a successful parent. And right now, that’s probably my greatest accomplishment is just I’m hoping I’m being a very good dad.”
Opening for Montgomery was Pittsburgh-based band North of Mason-Dixon (NOMaD). Before Montgomery played, NOMaD, a self-described hard rock and modern country act, played a 40-minute 12-song set that included hits off both their old and new albums.
Although many of the audience members had little or no familiarity with the band, which recently won $25,000 in the Mello Yello One Track Find Contest, NOMaD had most spectators dancing in their seats.
“We do our best to come out and entertain the crowd,” said David August, lead singer of NOMaD, “We’re all about high energy. We’re big on writing our own material and promoting our own material.”
In addition to their current album, the band is looking to release a new acoustic album, which will contain both their own work, as well as a mix of Christmas songs. And of course, like most bands, NOMaD is hoping to be signed sometime in the near future.
“Obviously we would love to be signed to a record deal, which we’re constantly striving for, but we also enjoy being an independent band as well. It’s something we have total control over and we always have, so it’s always generally just improving. You know the next plateau. [Asking] what can we do next to make it better? And that’s kind of what we focus on.”
As for Montgomery, the future may also mean a new album.
“I hope to cut another album maybe this winter, go in and write some songs with my brother, Eddie Montgomery, who’s the other half of the Montgomery Gentry duo,” he said. “We haven’t done anything together, played on stage together since we played in the bars and honky tonks back in the ‘80s, so we’re hoping maybe to get together now that we’ve got the Nashville red tape out of the way. Maybe get together and do some writing and maybe even get in the studio and sing our songs together and release it and see what happens with that.”
Whatever the outcome of the future, one thing is for sure—many country music fans worldwide regard John Michael Montgomery as a country legend—someone who will not soon be forgotten.