Good morning, country fans!
Who doesn't like a little Captain Jack in their day!
Good morning, country friends!
With everyone getting into the gardens and fields, I just had to share this cutie from Tim Hawkins!
Well, there aren’t too many honky-tonks in Baltimore, but there are more venues you might describe that way in the DC/Virginia area. Throughout my career I’ve played all different kinds of music, and I have a broad palette of musical genres that I enjoy. I started playing country/country rock music back in the 70s. Even though I dabbled in other genres, this is where I just feel right. I took a couple of years away from performing in the early 2000s, while my kids were growing and I was very busy with my day job. In 2007 or so, I decided to recommit to writing and performing and I told myself that I would move forward without any preconceived notions about what style of music I would write. As I began furiously writing songs at that time, it was easy to see that the country/Americana style was what came naturally to me. Five albums later, I’m right where I want to be stylistically. I’ve lived on the east coast my whole life, but I would have fit right in somewhere out west. IN fact, my wife and I spend a month every year in Tucson, AZ and I do a lot of writing there.
I think there is a lot to be learned from working with and spending time with other songwriters. In these parts, we don’t have the history and cache that Austin, Nashville, and other centers of songwriting goodness boast. So, songwriters have to stick together and work to be heard and seen and acknowledged for what we bring to the music scene. These songwriting groups are a good way to do that. Plus, I love bringing people together to make music
Both your musical influences and your ‘Favorite CDs’ cover a wide scope of music genres. Of them, what would you say were your three main take-aways that became a part of who you are as a songwriter, musician and performer?
Well, I think I’d have to break this down into 3 time periods in my life. In the 70s, I was strongly influenced by songwriting performers like Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Gram Parsons, and The Beatles. Through the 80s and 90s, I listened and learned a lot from writer/performers like Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Springsteen, and Tom Petty. From about 2000 on, my influences moved to songwriters from Nashville and Texas… writers such as Guy Clark, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, and Townes Van Zandt. Each of these periods of influence gave a slightly different imprint on my songwriting style. Generally, I want to write songs that have strong lyrics, often with a first-person approach, since this makes songs more personal for the listener. I also want to write songs that you want to sing along with…songs that stick in your mind long after you’ve heard them. And I want to write in an upbeat style even when I’m writing about difficult things. I love sad, slow ballads, but I don’t record too many of them.
You mention you began playing in your teens. I also find you very articulate. Would you share a bit about your education journey?
Well, I majored in education at the University of MD because back then, if you wanted to major in music, it had to be classical or jazz performance and composition – there were no songwriting or music production majors like there are now in some universities. When I graduated, I got a job immediately and just started working as a teacher while playing music at night. I went back to school at night to get a Master’s degree because in teaching you must continue to take classes and develop professionally, and if I was gonna take classes I figured I might as well get another degree. So, I got my Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. Right before I finished my advisor convinced me to apply to the doctoral program, assuring me I’d get in. I did, and seven years later I had my doctorate – all while still playing music. I was a teacher for about 15 years and an administrator for about 21 years.
Your bio mentions a love for language. Do you speak any others besides English?
In high school I won the Spanish award for being the best student of Spanish in the senior class. I used to read books in Spanish and converse pretty well. These days, I can read it fairly well, but I don’t speak it very well. I wish I was better at it.
If I’m reading your discography correctly, The Gulf Between Us is your fifth album. How did this album come about?
When I wrote the title song, I knew right away that the subject matter of that song was going to be the theme for an album. A light just went off! Subsequent to that I was in AZ and took a trip to the border wall to see for myself what it was about…to get a feel for it. That and some reading I did spawned the songs Momma and Me, The Southern Wall, and Like Thieves. The remaining songs were written as I asked myself, “What are some of the other things that keep people apart.” I decided failed relationships and the passing of loved ones were also major factors. All of that went into the songs on the album.
Since Road Trips and Relationships, how do you think you’ve grown as an artist across the album releases?
Well, most importantly, I think I’ve become a better songwriter. I spend much more time fine-tuning my songs, and when I write I begin with more of a purpose. I pay much more attention to small details that can move a song from being good to great. And, I am better at bringing the right people together to make the music I want to make, and I have a greater understanding of what works and does not work in a recording studio.
When fans listen to your music, what do you hope they glean from the experience?
I hope that they find some truths in the music that speak to them. Maybe it’s just one line in a song, maybe it’s the theme or topic…but I just want listeners to feel something, and to appreciate the power of music to be a positive force in their lives. In the best of all worlds, there would be a Craig Cummings song
Good morning, country fans!
Who remembers when Brad Paisley first came on the scene and everyone thought he was the next George Strait?
Enjoy this video and the cameo appearance by the late, great Little Jimmy Dickens as well as other celebrities.
Good morning, country fans!
I'm finally getting caught up from the long hiatus across the board and look forward to sharing talented artists dishing out great music as well as the classics we all know and love.. like this one from Toby Keith!
Good morning, country fans!
Here in KellysCountry I spotlight a lot of different artists. Some for the music, some for the writing artistry and a lot for both sides of the coin.
Back in September I featured an artist who'd reached out to me - Kristian Montgomery and the Winterkill Band.
Well, Kristian is back with a new album and working on another to release in the fall.
Ahhhh - the beauty of being and indie artist! You can do things on your timeline - not on what some office exec or editor thinks needs to be done. Not only that, but unlike the big execs and editors, you are your own client, where those folks are handling dozens (if not hundreds) of clients every day. That's a lot of balls to jungle.
That out of the way, let's give PRINCE OF POVERTY a listen.
He kicks the album off by jumping right into the pit of American Fire. While I like the album, I am not a fan of repetitive lyrics. That's just me personally and he uses the title words over and over, specifically towards the end where I think his talents could have been better spent.
You really get the harder soul in Don't Call Me Baby.
Just Driving Around has a nice easy shuffle 'round the dancefloor I quite enjoyed. A good backroad sody cruise tune.
Now, if you want to talk soul, Soul to Soul has it to the core. I could easily sit back with my eyes closed and let this song just play in a loop.
That Kind of Love takes us down a road with an amazing rhythm driving a foreboding undertone. If you aren't tapping toes on this tune, you need to wake up your soul.
They'll Remember My Name is the dark, hard type of track I can't get into, personally, but my ex would have loved it! LOL
Tired of Being Tired really sums up a lot. Those four simple words took a talented writer like Kristian Montgomery to turn them into a classic.
When's the last time you heard the phrase Warm Grave? This is a story type of tune I really get in to. The visuals that come to mind in this track are amazing. Let yourself go to the warm grave.
The final track, Working Hands, is another great shuffle tune. Similar to Just Driving Around but with a bit more drive in the beat.
While I like the album, I am not a fan of repetitive lyrics he showcases on a couple of the tracks. That's just me personally. I think his talents could have been better spent continuing to tell a story. That said, Kristian has a killer voice. As one person commented on dropbox.. the dude can sing! Overall, this is a great album for those who like the hard stuff. I'm just more of a wine girl. ;-)
If the hard edge, soulful Americana is your shot, then PRINCE OF POVERTY is the album you want on your playlist.
I am giving this album:.5