Austin is full of monster guitarists. Eric Johnson, David Grissom, Charlie Sexton, David Holt and Redd Volkaert are generally acknowledged to be some of the most innovative six-string stylists in popular music, but Monte Montgomery doesn't take a back seat to any of them. Montgomery may not be the best-known picker in Austin, but that hasn't kept him from making the cover of nearly every magazine on the planet that concerns guitars and guitar playing. The first time I was exposed to him, I couldn't believe how fluid he was and how hard he played. His guitar takes a brutal whipping every time he picks it up. No wonder the neck broke off four times. Alvarez Guitars finally had to build the man a six-string with a stouter neck. But Montgomery isn't just an electrifying, from-another-planet picker with a unique style. He also writes smart pop songs and delivers them with as much sincerity and feeling as he puts into his guitar playing. The only thing more amazing than his artistry is the fact that he isn't more widely known outside the world of musicians and guitar aficionados.
Sat., Jan. 30, 8 p.m., 2010