The last time Montgomery Gentry came to town was in 2008, when the country duo was flying high on the success of "Roll With Me." The single was the pair's fifth chart-topper, and the song reached No. 1 faster than any of their previous singles.
This time around the tag team's visit comes fresh on the heels of the announcement this month that Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry have been nominated for the Academy of Country Music's Best Vocal Duo award for the 11th straight time. They won the academy's top new duo or group in 1999. Since then they've been the Susan Luccis of the best vocal duo category, losing nine times in a row to Brooks & Dunn, then again last year to Sugarland.
They have a similar track record with the Country Music Association's Best Vocal Duo award, though they won it once in 2000.
None of that subtracts from Montgomery Gentry's superstar status though. The duet's music leans on hard-edged, honky-tonk stompers but spins those sounds through pop country's big production. That's the pickup truck onto which they have hitched their heritage flag, touting good old boy credentials and singing the virtues of hillbilly living. Of the tandem's six albums, three have been certified platinum and two others gold. It's a catalog that includes hits like "My Town," "If You Ever Stop Loving Me" and "Something To Be Proud Of."
But while giving awards nods to Montgomery Gentry may seem to come automatically at this point, there hasn't been a new studio album since 2008's "Back When I Knew It All." Two non-album singles have appeared since then -- "Oughta Be More Songs About That" and "While You're Still Young" -- but respectively those were the lowest and second-lowest charting singles of the duo's career.
Given that relative inactivity, Sugarland may be the favorites for best vocal duo again this year."
No matter, Montgomery Gentry has bigger things to celebrate. Eddie Montgomery -- whose brother John Michael Montgomery happens to be a country music star in his own right -- underwent successful surgery to remove prostate cancer back in December. His recovery has been swift enough that the pair wrapped up a string of overseas dates just this past month, playing for U.S. troops stationed in South Korea and Japan.
But not long before Montgomery went public with his cancer diagnosis in November, bandmate Gentry took the opportunity to post a statement on the duo's website about the $15,000 fine and hunting suspension he was levied in Minnesota. The punishment stemmed from charges of falsely registering a captive bear as being killed in the wild. In 2004, he purchased a tame bear and killed it within a fenced, three-acre enclosure. The incident was filmed -- the video can be viewed on YouTube -- and made to look as if Gentry killed the bear as part of a three-day hunting excursion.
Gentry plead guilty in 2006. From the letter posted on the Montgomery Gentry website, the singer states that, while he apologized for the crime he committed, he never apologized to the public.
"There's no one who feels as bad about this as I do," he wrote. "I have beaten myself up about this over the years. I made a mistake, a bad decision, and it has been an embarrassment to both me and my family. I have learned my lesson and have paid a huge price personally and professionally. Since this happened, I know in my heart that I am a different and better person."
Since then, Montgomery Gentry has used the new year to hit the ground running. And 12 years after the duet's debut, it is trying to put a fresh face on 2011.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Sullivan Arena
Tickets: $39.50-$59.20 (fees may apply), ticketmaster.com
Back in the saddle