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'Time Flies'...

... but Montgomery's hoping fans will welcome him back

... but Montgomery's hoping fans will welcome him back

November 20, 2008|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

John Michael Montgomery says if his life were a country song it would be "I've Seen Better Days, but It Ain't Over Yet."

The country music singer came into the scene in 1993 with his Grammy-nominated album, "Life's A Dance," which he quickly followed with "Kickin' It Up," the self-titled "John Michael Montgomery" and "What I Do the Best." Then his star faded.

But it wasn't from a lack of a work ethic. While Montgomery had continued to crank out an album nearly every year from 1992 to 2004, he was dealing with major health issues that took him out of the spotlight - two leg surgeries, three throat surgeries and two hip replacements.

If that wasn't enough, Montgomery was a ship with no port. His longtime label, Atlantic Records, decided to close down its Nashville, Tenn., division and transfer its artists to Warner Bros. Montgomery released four albums with Warner Bros., including 2004's "Letter From Home."

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But, frustrated with the bureaucracy of the biz, Montgomery founded Stringtown Records, under which he released his own album, "Time Flies," which he also co-produced.

During his phone interview with The Herald-Mail, Montgomery said he was recovering from a cold he picked up while entertaining troops at Guantanamo Bay. But he says he's back stronger than ever. Saturday night he performs at the Weinberg Center for the Arts.

Montgomery admits it seems he's been away for awhile. That's why his new album, "Time Flies" - the title is taken from a line in "All In A Day," one of the tracks - has already catapulted Montgomery back onto country music airwaves. "Forever," another track from the album, is in heavy rotation on the radio. He's hoping his video for "If You Ever Went Away" will become a CMT fan favorite.

"One of the toughest things is that I have to compete with myself. ... They're still playing my music ... I did in the '90s," he says. "I have to get them to stop playing my old songs in order for them to start playing my newer material. But I guess that's a good problem to have."

Montgomery says "Time Flies" came out at a perfect time.

"It really was a time to think and reflect," he says.

After honing his skills in honky-tonks alongside kid brother Eddie (now of Montgomery Gentry), the Kentucky native seemed to burst onto the country music scene with hits like "Sold! (The Grundy County Auction Incident)," "I Can Love You Like That" and "Life's A Dance." He racked up nominations - Grammy, Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association - an early sign that Montgomery's career would be long.

"You know, 1992 doesn't seem all that long ago," Montgomery says referring to his breakthrough year.

Now nearly 16 years later, Montgomery has one image that he's trying to shed - how old people think he is. "People think that I'm at the age I should be retiring, but I'm only 43," he says with a laugh. "People think because I came out the same time as Alan Jackson, they think I'm his age." Jackson is 50 years old.

Montgomery says he's actually closer in age to Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. "I'm still a young man," he says. "I'm not ready to retire."

With "Time Flies," Montgomery was able to have more control, especially behind the scenes in producing. He says there's a lot of "cogs, bells and whistles" in the studio.

"You have to be able to know when to push the levers at just the right time," he says.

But he says he's always tried to learn as much about the music industry as he can, and producing is just the next step.

As for the possibility of Montgomery and brother Eddie teaming up for a duet, time will tell. "You would think that, because we're brothers, it would be easier. But there's a lot of red tape," he says.




If you go...



WHAT: John Michael Montgomery and special guest Katie Armiger

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22

WHERE: Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., Frederick, Md.

COST: Tickets cost $25 to $38 plus processing fee.

CONTACT: Call 301-600-2828 or go to www.weinbergcenter.org.

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