Bonnie Montgomery Trucking
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Bonnie Montgomery Trucking

Little Rock, Arkansas, United States | SELF

Little Rock, Arkansas, United States | SELF
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"Spending the Night with Bonnie"

NIGHTFLYING • RITES OF SPRING • 2011 ¦ 13
Spending the night with
Bonnie at the White Water Tavern
EurekaSpringsBlues.com
---Peter Read
I’m sitting here at the White Water Tavern this evening, watching the band Bonnie Montgomery
Trucking. This 3-piece ensemble is, to say the least, highly entertaining, with a penchant
for performing off-the-wall songs, both original and highly personalized ‘covers’.
Bonnie is a self-described as a “folk roots rock singer in a driving Dixie Trio,” the band is
showing its muster tonight. Starting out on an easy tempo, they picked up musical steam with
every tune...performing a variety of mostly original songs - never in the same vein, mind you
- carefully adjusting the energy level to keep it fresh throughout the set.
I’ve seldom seen musicians have so much fun, too. Each player seems to be getting a good
personal concert from the other musicians and the members of this audience are the winners.
The music is bouncy and quirky for the most part, hence rather upbeat, and seems to cause
even the least danceable types (like me) to, essentially, want to boogie.
The claim to fame:
Bonnie Montgomery, a native Arkansan, picked up Bill Clinton’s autobiography, “My Life”,
in 2006 and saw stories ready for the operatic stage. She couldn’t lose the vision of Virginia (Clinton)
Kelly and Billy (Clinton) Blythe singing an aria together onstage.
Montgomery is formally trained in music education and vocal performance but operatic
composition was new to her. Still, she was on fire about a contemporary American opera set in
her home: an often overlooked, southern state rich with musical heritage. She wanted to share the
inspiration she had gleaned from global visionaries who also called Arkansas home.
Montgomery teamed with friend and fellow southerner Brittany Barber to write the libretto
and Billy Blythe was born.
Montgomery studied music at Ouachita Baptist University, then at UMKC Conservatory
of Music, focusing on American art song and folk music with emphasis on Arkansas’ musical
heritage.
She has also worked and performed in Asia, Mexico, Australia and Europe, during which
she learned an even greater appreciation for her home state and region, where her family still
owns and operates a local music store on the court square in White County.
Jimmy Young, an accomplished musician who’s played in a plethora of bands, is also the
owner-founder of Sonny Williams Steak Room in the River Market. I first got to know Jimmy
years ago when he worked at the legendary Shug’s, and was playing in the band Sweetland. He’s
also in Outstanding Red Team, and through the years has played with Dyslexic Iguanas, Khaki
Onion, Nessie and Turnrow. He played the electric bass in those days, only recently taking up
that stand-up bass.
“It’s so much more fun. I wish I’d made the move a long time ago. It’s like I’m playing and
getting to dance with a partner at the same time.”
Justin McGoldrick is a masterful guitar player, and it shows here tonight. Just watching the
man, one gets the impression that there really isn’t any thought connection between his brain and
his hands…they seem to have minds of their own. Indeed, he frequently seems to be surprised at
certain licks coming from that guitar, as if they weren’t planned…just ‘happened’…sort of, as if
asking his fingers “how did you do that? Cool…”
Justin also plays with the Weisenheimers, another off-the-wall bunch of players with a penchant
for serious rock and roll.
All the members of the band are songwriters, but Bonnie and Justin handle the vocal duties.
Says Jimmy, “While I have a mic, it really is more for me to make snide remarks to the
crowd than anything else. I really don’t sing much to speak of.”
My first experience with this band was at the Nightflying 30th Anniversary Party, where
they wowed Stickyz their entire set. When you consider that at least half the people in that audience
were professional musicians (as it is at our parties, you know), that’s saying something.
This White Water crowd is extremely appreciative tonight, as I suspect any crowd would
have to be with this band.
They’re fun. And they create a very enjoyable buzz from that stage that is as infectious as it
is inviting.
This room is crowded with people of all stripes, too, and the synergy in here is electrifying.
I think it’s safe to say that we’re all getting off, actually, from the driving energy of the Bonnie
Montgomery Trucking band…
---PR - Nightflying Publications


"Bonnie Montgomery"

Arkansas is lucky Bonnie Montgomery decided to come home. Few artists have the range of talent coupled with such dedication to their home state as she does — and this unique combo was on full display at her performance last night for AETN’s "On the Front Row" series. As Montgomery said herself, it was a night of firsts. It was the first time she’s given an operatic performance, decked out in a floor-length gown and accompanied on piano; then, switching gears and changing into gingham and cowboy boots, delivered a full set of her satisfyingly raucous folk-rock.

Charming the small crowd of 60 or so guests through the whole set, she cracked jokes, sang "Happy Birthday" to her Uncle Leon who was in attendance, and reveled in the fact that so many came "all the way to Conway" to see her play. With the support of her full band, Montgomery Trucking, she belted out songs driven by the Luther Perkins-style of her guitar player, chugging along in that 4/4 tempo, an almost indigenous sound to an Eastern Arkansan. Then she moved to the piano and captivated the room with her own unique style of tongue-in-cheek parlor ballads — songs that lament the slow pace of a new lover and the jet-lag induced “Beijing Blues.”

But the highlight of the evening was the aria Montgomery sang to open the show. It was the first time a piece from her opera, "Billy Blythe" — you’ve probably heard about it by now — has been performed in front of an audience. Singing as Virginia Blythe Clinton, the pres’ mom, Montgomery’s voice embodied the grief of a woman who’s lost her husband and the determination of a woman with a young son to raise. It was striking. And if it’s any indication of what’s to come when the opera makes its debut, a whole lot more folks outside of Arkansas are going to take notice of Montgomery. Until then, go see her play and go often and be proud she’s one of our own.

The broadcast of "AETN Presents: On the Front Row with Bonnie Montgomery and Montgomery Trucking" is scheduled for November. - Arkansas Times


"Bonnie Montgomery's Clinton Opera gets National Coverage"

Nice plug for Bonnie Montgomery's forthcoming opera, "Billy Blythe," which we first told you about last March, on the US News website today. Gawker's plugging it, too. Little Rock's Suzi Parker gets credit for the reporting for US News, though she doesn't have a byline.

Clinton's recent autobiography colors Montgomery's opera. "He paints this myth, it's storytelling, beautiful, and imaginative writing," says Montgomery. And Clinton's mother, she adds, "is guiding me inspirationally."

So what's it all mean? The day-in-the-life of Bill Clinton "shows a pivotal moment in Billy Blythe's coming of age because he has to stand up to his step-father, Roger Clinton, in a life-changing domestic conflict," Montgomery says in a reference to a oft-told story about how Bill challenged his physically abusive stepdad. "The day will also show his relationship to his family and community, and the internal struggles and inspirations within himself that became themes throughout his life and presidency," she says.

Montgomery's booked White Water on Saturday, September 24 for a fundraiser for the opera, where she plans to perform a scene or two.
- Arknsas Times


"Bonnie Montgomery Rocks the House"

Bonnie Montgomery rocked the house last last week during a taping of AETN Presents: On the Front Row to be aired this November. I'm not sure that AETN fans have ever had the eclectic show we were treated to last Thursday. Montgomerys deep, rich tones in a folksy, rock-a-billy foot stompin' beat had the crowd whooping and swaying (especially to the 'mean' song as she put it) and then we had her professionally trained clear voice singing opera. Parlor ballads that took you to another place entirely poked at something on the inside. Slow and methodical and moving. Truly lovely.

For the first time, she shared the opera 'Billy Blythe' she has been working on for four years that chronicles Bill Clinton's boyhood. Singing as Clintons mother Virginia, she peeked into a private Mother/Son world that few know. Heartbreaking and telling, she took you to that place.

Gingham and evening gowns, you can count on AETN to bring it. All of it. - AETN


Discography

Summer Sessions EP

"But I Won't" on KABF Radio
"Uncle Doyle" on KABF Radio

Photos

Bio

Montgomery currently resides in Little Rock, Arkansas. The band is a trio with Bonnie Montgomery on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Justin McGoldrick on electric guitar and backing vocals, and Jimmy Young on upright bass. The original songs are driving roots and country tunes with varied influences, including opera. Bonnie also plays piano with these same influences in mind.

The trio has performed sold out shows in Little Rock at venues including The White Water Tavern and Sticky Fingerz. Her following is loyal and growing at a
rapid pace.

In addition to her opera-billy roots-rock show, Montgomery is gaining national and international attention for composing the modern folk opera, Billy Blythe, about Bill Clinton's childhood that will have a premiere performance in NYC this June. For the workshop performance, Montgomery took the stage to play Virginia Clinton, Bill's Mother.