A review of Kory Montgomery

The Set List

By Brian Washburn

A taste of guitar greatness

Channeling Clapton. It’s definitely not an easy thing to do in the blues-rock genre. Many have tried and believe me, many have failed. While one Northwest Arkansas guitarist might not have the exact punch and melodies as the guitar god, he is definitely on the right track. And why shouldn’t he, coming from the land of Bikes, Blues & BBQ? The man is Arkansas native Kory Montgomery.

Montgomery’s new album “Born in the Rockhouse” gives the NWA music scene a taste at guitar greatness. Montgomery is ably backed by guitarist Drew Packard, bassist Garrett Jones and drummer Tyler Wright.

Montgomery’s blues-influenced guitar licks resemble those of Hendrix mixed with the style of Clapton. However, it is not only the tone of his axe that makes Montgomery’s guitar work fascinating.

It’s the way he can switch from a slow, mellow riff that can make women swoon to a fast, hard-hitting blues solo that can make guys bang their heads like they lived back in the ’60s and ’70s.

The blazing first track off “Rockhouse” gives listeners a classic rock feel that could possibly transport them as if they were in Doc Brown’s time machine back to the ’70s. But this is not the ’70s. This is Kory Montgomery’s time.

Although the guitar work and the rhythm sections on “Rockhouse” prove to be the cornerstone and backbone to the album, the lyrics are a bit clichéd and Montgomery’s vocals fluctuate back and forth between decent and moderately good.

His vocal range stays at about the same level the entire release, which is nothing new for the blues genre (revenge, a relentless drive, loving women, etc.). However, Montgomery does seem to switch between a dead-on Steve Ray Vaughn impression (the moderately good voice, see “Cold Chicken” and “Beggars and Choosers”) to a mix of a sub-par Clapton and a funk-esque, almost James Brown voice (the decent, see “PaPa’s Never Satisfied”). While the guitar wails and soothes throughout the release, the vocals and lyrics can largely be passed by since the listener is either rocking out to the guitar riffs or getting his or her moves on with one of Montgomery’s funky licks.

Even though “Rockhouse” might not propel the Kory Montgomery Band to the top of the blues charts just yet, it has the powerful guitar styles and the prominent, unique (for modern standards) songwriting to get national exposure. But then again, for a man that has already performed alongside the likes of B.B. King, should we expect any less?

Final Thought: Summer is approaching at lightening speed. While the Northwest Arkansas scene will be host of several mainstream concerts and festivals over the upcoming months (Wakarusa, Guster, Cake, Ben Folds), music junkies should not forget those local bands that will be touring and have homecoming shows this summer.

Summer is the time for touring, and I would not want to be one of those to miss a final homecoming show for a NWA band that is about to take off. Come on, we all want to be that fan who said we knew them before they were famous, don’t we?

Categories: LIVE! In NWA