Monte Montgomery

Whether he's playing Austin's ancient Saxon or Chicago's Abbey Pub, Monte Montgomery's mix of pop and roots rock always leaves 'em stunned and smitten. The consensus: Montgomery is a "guitar god" (the phrase pops up all over Montgomery's clip file). Guitar One magazine even declared him one of America's best undiscovered players. Montgomery picks and plucks his worn acoustic ax with the kind of erudite flair Julia Child brings to cuisine. Music lovers are enchanted, musicians inspired.

Montgomery was introduced to the guitar as a child by his folk singer/musician mother, Maggie, who would sit little Monte on her lap, making chords with her left hand and letting him strum with his right. After the two moved to Luckenbach, Monte played at his mother's bar. By the time he was in his mid-teens, Montgomery was playing in and around Austin. It takes a whole lotta chutzpah to rise to the top of the game in the "live music capital of the world," where guitars are issued alongside driver's licenses. Monte had chutzpah enough to land on Antone's record label, home to an inferno of six-string heat.

Montgomery's decision to go acoustic was the result of a natural evolution. He would often play acoustic sets before he switched to his electric guitar. The acoustic preludes took up increasingly larger portions of his live shows, until finally he had an epiphany: Any sound he could make on an electric, he could also make on an acoustic, and the reverse was not true. Realizing the broader range of the acoustic, Montgomery decided to explore its possibilities. Today, the sounds he can wrest from his tattered hollow-body are phenomenal. His fretting alone is masterful, to say the least.

But enough of this music geek-speak. Montgomery's talents extend far beyond technical proficiency. His songwriting is sincere, his voice soulful. Monte Montgomery may not move you to pick up the guitar yourself, but he will move you.

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Eric A.T. Dieckman