Well, that was interesting.

Did I say interesting, I meant awesome! I mean wow. The singing, and the guitar playing – I’d never really been a huge fan of guitar but this guy is incredible.

I went to see Monte Montgomery at the Eau Claire house of rock.
Did I say house of rock? I meant apartment of rock.

It was a bar with a stage and no ventilation system. The smoke was so thick it was hard to see the stage. Quite a number of the people were scummy and, well, drunk.

There were no seats really – a couple of tiny tables and bar stools in the stage area, and a couple pool tables in the outer area. Needless to say, the stage area was packed in like a can of sardines. I avoided the stage area – primarily because I couldn’t find any earplugs on the way there :-(. So I stood with Corey on the other side of the bar and watched from there – while Chad had to be right in the middle of the other side – literally.

So my eyes were burning, my ears hurt, my back hurt, I went there extremely fatigued and ready to collapse.

Why so negative, you ask?

Why, only to provide a stark contrast for the amazing performance of Monte and his little Trio. My feet don’t hurt, my back is fine – everything I would normally have considered unpleasant about the experience melted away as Monte played song after song. Each one features some singing – Monte has quite a range and versatility and harmonizes well with the bass Guitarist. The singing was controlled and solid – despite the wicked speed of his hands on the guitar.

And then somewhere in each song a nice instrumental revery comes in. Monte plays a six string acoustic guitar, but you would never know from some of the songs. Using a combination of reverberation, wicked fast fingers and harmonics, he makes that acoustic sound like an electric – with distortion and not. He plays bass notes and melody simultaneously. He plays multiple, harmonizing melodies at the same time. Heck, half the time you couldn’t tell what instrument he was playing, it was just invigoration and beautiful.

His guitar has no whammy bar, and yet he makes due – bending the neck of the guitar to accomplish the same effect.

In this particular show, the band left the stage and was called back by the crowd. Monte came out alone and started playing a soft melody – very typically acoustic – and added layer after layer of complexity from just his guitar. All this time, he was creating an echo effect with his hands. Neither of us could imagine how he was doing it, but he had control over it, and there was no external effects. The low notes would be echoing while the high notes did not.
I’d say this went on for a good five minutes, then the other two members came out. They accompanied for a while and stepped back, allowing Monte to continue another amazing solo. Then they all came in, suddenly but smoothly at the exact perfect moment.
That right there was incredible. They didn’t skip a beat, didn’t miss a note. Corey says my jaw dropped.

The next 10 minutes I experiences some of the most awe inspiring instrumental work I’ve ever heard. AS I watched him tearing at the strings, I began to wonder just how he kept that thing in tune through the beating it endured. Shortly thereafter, as if he heard my question, he held up the guitar while it was playing a chord, and twisted the tuner for one of the strings way down – it was quite an effect, a very potent pitch-bend. Did he stop there? No. He continued to play this detuned guitar for a while more, finishing up the song without a single note out of place.

After the concert, I went to do what every freshly awed individual must do – buy a CD. I wasn’t planning on waiting for him to come over and give autographs, but he showed up almost immediately. I was the second person to get my CD signed, and got to shake his hand. After what I had just experienced and seen this man do, I was honored to get to meet him in person.

If you ever get a chance to see this guy, do it. You will be amazed. I lucked out at $10 cause I live in Eau Claire, but it was worth well more than that. It was worth the purning eyes and ringing ears. I’d do it again in a heartbeat (but with earplugs next time :-D)

Heh, I also got to show off my mad pool skills (or lack thereof). One of the guys has a pool table at home. Needless to say he thrashed me.

Well, thus ends my day. I have to go wash the smoke off cause I smell like an ashtray. People need to quit smoking – it’s just so aweful. Tragic really that people feel the need to drink and smoke at such things – rather then enjoying and respecting the music and the company of others.

God bless!

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