In early 1972, Boston University student James Montgomery and his band were featured prominently on the cover of the Boston Phoenix where they were proclaimed as the “undoutably the greatest unrecorded group in the [Boston] area.” The blues-rock stylings and influence of the James Montgomery Band is longstanding, and 45 years after his first LP, James and his band are back paying tribute not only to their influences with their new album, but also to armed service members with a special performance at the excellent and intimate 9 Wallis Street in Beverly.
Originally from Detroit, James Montgomery’s history with the Boston area extends beyond the confines of the city, and is actually a lot more local than people think. “Our first gig outside of the city was actually at Exeter Academy in New Hampshire,” said James. “And, not long after that, we played the field house at Beverly High School. It’s funny, the city has a scene, but these little towns have such a vibrant scene to this day.” Back then, they played many smaller venues ranging from the Psychedelic Supermarket in Boston and Club 47 in Cambridge, but always found their way to some of the more local venues. Joints like Grovers and Sandy’s in Beverly as well as various art spaces in the Newburyport and Gloucester area always proved a much needed break from the big city, and also provided a more enthusiastic experience. “I always call them ‘living room venues’ and they’re great,” said James. “When you’re playing at a venue that fits 19,000 people, you can definitely get everyone there in the same wavelength and hit that point where the music plays you, but sometimes the feeling is much more real when you’re in someone’s living room. And seeing everyone hit that same feeling is incredible.”
James Montgomery Band V is for Veterans Benefit on Feb 03, 2018 @ 8:00PM | 9 Wallis in Beverly, MA (just over 20 miles north of Boston)
gimmeLIVE Presents James Montgomery Band V is for Veterans Benefit with special guest John David Black on Sat, February 3, 2018 at the 9 Wallis in Beverly, MA (just over 20 miles north of Boston)
James Montgomery’s latest album pays tribute to the legendary Paul Butterfield who broke rock and roll convention in the 60s and continue to serve as the backbone for modern blues and rock. “A lot of people were mad about Bob Dylan going electric, but people forget that Paul did it first,” said James. “In fact, when Dylan did play electric, he picked up Butterfield’s band members to help him. You can’t make that stuff up.” The idea of doing a tribute to Paul Butterfield had always been on James’ mind, and he’ll be the first one to tell you that everything he does on stage is taken from either Paul Butterfield or legendary harmonica player James Cotton, and he kept that in mind while making this album. “We wanted to do what Paul would do if he were still around today, which is completely rearranging everything,” said James. “Paul was an innovator and was always changing. The only way we could play like him is by evolving like he did, and that’s how we went about it.”
Outside of classic blues influences, a group that had an incredible impact on James through the years were veterans, and James has done everything he can through the years to give back to service members that have given so much. “In the 70s, I lost fans because I supported the vets that came back from Vietnam because people thought it was me supporting the presidency or politics in general,” he said. “I’m very Apolitical and keep that stuff to myself, but when it comes to veterans, I think we can give them the support they need without drawing lines.” Since the 70s, James has been working with various organizations as well as numerous tribute shows, but more recently James and his road manager Jim Tirabassi started V for Veterans, which serves as a way to get support to veterans organizations that don’t get as much attention as others. “You see commercials for some organizations and other ones on the news, and they get a lot of support, but there are plenty that have a little trouble getting the word out,” said James. “And those are the ones we love to work with.” In particular, they do plenty of work with Veterans Assisting Veterans; an organization that is set up by veterans for veterans, which gives veterans the comfort of speaking to other members in a more personable level. “Sometimes it’s hard to not feel awkward when talking to someone about issues or problems, particularly if they don’t understand what you went through,” said James. “That’s why Veterans Assisting Veterans is wonderful. It helps put that awkwardness aside and helps get people the support they really need.”
James’ performance in Beverly is not only a tribute to the music acts that influenced his sound for the past 50 years, but is also a fundraiser for his organization that hopes to give back to those service members that gave so much. “The North Shore area was our first major trip outside of Boston, and it’s always good to come back,” said James. “We appreciate all our fans up here, and we can’t wait to connect and play again for you all. Come out, have fun, and lets support our vets!”
James Montgomery will be playing at 9 Wallis on February 3rd. For more information, check out the event page here.