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Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

Gray Matters: Guitarist extraordinaire

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I am now living too far from Cherokee to have enjoyed any of the great musical events, which took place there recently.

Of course, with the weather you've been "enjoying," I might not have gotten there anyway. Be that as it may, two recent stories from the Texas Hill Country about related musical matters have piqued my memory. I am sure the name Monte Montgomery rings a bell with many of the artists featured in Cherokee's recent activities.

This young Texan has been named one of Guitar Player Magazine's "Top 50 All-Time Greatest Guitarists." He has appeared on Austin City Limits and has performed for 200,000 at international festivals.

Twenty-five years ago, we're told, he was this "slight, shy, shaggy-mopped boy sitting just outside the picking circle at Luckenbach, playing endless runs up and down his battered acoustic guitar."

Now, I have read an even more recent story about Maggie Montgomery, mother of that shaggy-mopped youngster, and then memories started kicking in. One day back in the early eighties, Remsen cousins, Martin and Thelma Dorr (both now deceased) came visiting in the Hill Country.

My late husband had been called back to Iowa on a business matter just at that time, so I was the lone tour guide taking them to our favorite points of interest which, of course, included Waylon and Willie's Luckenbach, Texas. When we reached the rustic store at that site, we found a small, but interesting group gathered there.

Most vocal, was a man who identified himself as an attorney and probation officer from another area. With him, was a woman attendant who had accompanied him to escort a female prisoner to Austin, the state capital. We understood that the stop at Luckenbach on their way home had been orchestrated so he could meet a woman named Maggie Montgomery with whom he seemed to have some sort of personal relationship.

Ms. Montgomery was there, playing her guitar and singing between rounds of interesting conversation with her was her young son, named Monte, who often played along in a remarkably skilled fashion.

The man was interesting and well-informed about all things Texan and we had a delightful discussion. A couple of times he and Maggie excused themselves and strolled off in the wooded area nearby for their own private conversations.

Often that afternoon he would enthusiastically expound on the young guitarist's obvious skill, making a point each time that this was HIS son who was so marvelously talented. It was pretty clear that young Monte was not the product of a conventional relationship. By the way, the current articles make no mention of the guitarist's paternity.

Thelma and I never forgot that strange and interesting afternoon. In a few years articles began appearing in the newspaper concerning the young artist's accomplishments, and I always shared them with her while she was still with us. His mother was also mentioned on occasion so I knew she was still performing. Now, in this latest report, Maggie is referred to as "reigning over music and mayhem at Banker Smith, Texas" for many years.

Banker Smith is a one-house (hers) ghost town a few miles from Luckenbach, so this was probably where they were living when we met them so long ago.

Having had those half-forgotten memories so vividly aroused and learning that she has, for the first time, recorded a CD with her famous son, I am ordering it. I promise to tell you all about my impressions as soon as it arrives.