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James Montgomery Blues Band to hit Portland

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Blues legend James Montgomery is set for a return to one of his favorite venues, when the James Montgomery Blues Band performs at One Longfellow Square in Portland on Friday, January 10.

“It’s a great listening room,” Montgomery told The Maine Edge during an interview. “They do a lot of dancing there too, but you won’t find a better venue for listening than One Longfellow Square.”

Inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2018, Montgomery has been lighting up stages all over the world since the late 1960s, but says he has a wealth of great memories connected to Maine.

“We’ve seen it all in Maine,” Montgomery said. “If it wasn’t freezing between September and May, I probably would have moved there a long time ago.”

The latest album from the James Montgomery Blues Band is a tribute to another blues legend – the late Paul Butterfield – and it’s a killer record. Seven reimagined Butterfield classics appear with three originals inspired by the blues harp icon who appeared at Woodstock, the Monterey Pop Festival and the Fillmore East and West.

“There will always be room for people to do well in the blues,” Montgomery said when asked if he feels another blues boom on the horizon. “I’m not afraid about the blues ever dying out. As a musical art form, it will continue to move in cycles, and there will be times when it increases in popularity.

New England has always been a big area for the blues and Montgomery has a more than reasonable explanation for its popularity here.

“I think colleges have had a lot to do with the fact that blues has always been big in New England,” he said. “There are so many colleges and universities here, it allows genres like blues, jazz and classical music to thrive as more young people come to the form and are continually moved by it.”

Montgomery has recorded and shared stages with big names for much of his career and shares an interesting observation about stereotypes.

“There’s a stereotype about musicians that is way overblown,” he said. “With few exceptions, it’s been my experience that the bigger the name, the nicer they are. Everyone that I’ve known and played with – from Huey Lewis to Gregg Allman to Steve Miller and Les Paul, B.B. King, Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt, The Rolling Stones – you name it. They’re good people.”

Montgomery called upon many of his famous friends to sit in with him on his syndicated blues radio show called “Backstage With the Blues” that aired on a number of stations for five years.

“The show was a mix of people that I knew, and a lot of other people in the blues world I might not have met if not for the show,” he remembered. “I had a tendency to gravitate toward the guys from the generation that bridged the gap between the plantation and urban blues. It was a different world and those guys have stories that are just totally unbelievable, but they’re all true.”

(Tickets for the James Montgomery Blues Band at One Longfellow Square, 181 State St. in Portland, on Friday, January 10, at 8:00 pm, are available at

Last modified on Monday, 06 January 2020 09:03


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