Montgomery Gentry will perform a post-rodeo concert Fe. 3-4 at the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates. | KRISTIN BARLOWE PHOTO
BULLRIDERS: WORLD TOUR FINALE VI
Post-show concert by MONTGOMERY GENTRY
† 7:30 p.m. Feb. 3-4
† Sears Centre Arena, 5333 Prairie Stone Parkway, Hoffman Estates
† Tickets, $10-$52
Montgomery Gentry’s Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry have long been known for their down-and-dirty country music and rebel attitude. Yet, when recalling the night one of them came face to face with a bull . . . well, let’s just say their tune changes just a bit.
“We had just finished a concert at a venue that had bull riding and Eddie [Montgomery] and some of the bull riders talked me into getting on a bull,” recalled Gentry of the fateful night.
“The first time out of the shoot, I fell off immediately. The second time, after some coaching and instruction from the other riders, I stayed on a couple seconds longer, but this time I fell and ended up under the bull. I mean . . . they had to call a nurse and everything.”
And while he doubts he will attempt to ride another bull anytime soon, Gentry says the duo didn’t think twice when approached with the chance to embark on a multi-city arena tour with the Professional Championship Bullriders (PCB) in 2012. Fresh off their recent Academy of Country Music nomination for vocal duo of the year, the always-rowdy Montgomery Gentry will join 35 of the nation’s top — and perhaps even rowdier bull riders — at the Sears Centre Feb. 3-4 for a weekend bill of music and in-the-ring excitement.
“These bull riders are like a stick of dynamite,” laughed Gentry, who grew up in Kentucky on an eclectic music mix of Waylon Jennings, Motown and AC/DC. “It definitely takes a certain breed of person to get on a 2,000-pound animal. It makes you wonder what brings them to do it. They are fascinating to watch . . . but no way am I getting in the ring.”
Known for such chart-topping hits as “My Town,” “Hell Yeah” and “Something To Be Proud Of,” Montgomery Gentry busted onto the national music scene in 1999 with the defiant “Hillbilly Shoes.”And while they have seen their share of triumphs, the duo has also faced their fair share of challenges, including Montgomery’s devastating cancer diagnosis and a parting of the ways with longtime record label Columbia Nashville in 2010. Yet, 2012 is looking up, as Gentry and a “100-percent cancer-free” Montgomery are riding high on the success of their new CD, “Rebels on the Run” and their recent partnership with powerhouse indie label Average Joe’s Entertainment.
“I want to keep putting songs out there that make people say ‘that song really helped me get through’ one thing or another,” said the often boisterous Montgomery during a recent interview. “Getting to come into Chicago on this PCB tour and getting to play some of our old and new music for our fans is just awesome. There is just something about Chi-Town that I just love the hell out of.”
Montgomery Gentry says they especially love having the chance to provide their fans ‘more bang for their buck’ with their partnership with PCB. The pair’s upcoming Sears Centre appearance will include a family-friendly lineup of bucking bulls, cowgirl barrel racing and a showcase of some of the top bull riders in the country.
“Most people don’t realize that Chicago has quite a rich bull riding history,” explained Chicagoland resident Robert Sauber, who founded PCB in 2006. “The first professional rodeo actually took place right here in Chicago in 1927, so to bring it on home is always special. It’s going to be a big ole country fest in the middle of the winter.”
Sauber says teaming up with Montgomery Gentry this year was a bit of a no-brainer.
“I remember seeing them in concert at the Cadillac Ranch back in 1999,” recalled Sauber, who is considering on expanding the event to three days next year. “Montgomery Gentry is just a down-home, grassroots kind of band that attracts a similar demographic to PCB.”
“It’s really cool how we can offer two different entertainment events under one ceiling, especially since we seem to draw the same audience,” said Gentry. “It’s definitely a new idea — we have played a lot of rodeos and bull riding events in the past, and growing up I remember being fascinated to watch them.”
“I will leave it to the boys of the bull riding association,” laughed Montgomery. “I know how mean those bulls can be.”
Tricia Despres is a local free-lance writer.