Without question, Monte Montgomery would have earned accolades from guitar magazines if he'd never opened his mouth. The Austin, Texas-based guitar hero dazzles with his combination of finger- and flatpicking, and the fact that he rocks out on an amplified acoustic guitar sets him apart from a legion of other fleet-fingered ax-wielders. Take a look at one of the many videos of his version of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" posted on YouTube, and you'll witness the jaw-dropping work of a virtuoso player with a firm sense of dynamics and a gift for tastefully mixing blues, prog and pretty much any other guitar style you care to mention. His website brags that he won "Best Acoustic Guitarist" seven years in a row at the Austin Music Awards. And in his case, all those strolls to the podium really are indicators of exceptional talent.
But what's refreshing about Montgomery is that his musical ability doesn't stop at his digits. The guy also pens some very strong rock and pop songs that feature varied rhythms and hooky melodies. What's more, he sings them in a convincing tenor voice that's just soulful enough to give harder fare like "Shock" and "Come Away" an arena-filling power.
Despite the regular hosannas, Montgomery hasn't risen above the level of cult artist. But that's fine with hardcore fans who regularly travel hundreds of miles to catch his live shows. Sure, he deserves to be filling theaters and hockey rinks. On the other hand, in small clubs his tightly rehearsed trio comes off as the bar band of your dreams.