by Rachel Hunter
Award-Winning American Country Music Artist John Michael Montgomery – who has sold over 16 million albums – will headline the opening concert at the 2019 Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair on Tuesday, July 30 at 8 p.m., Fair Manager Don Peck announced this week.
John Michael Montgomery has turned an uncanny ability to relate to fans into one of country music’s most storied careers. Behind the string of hit records, the roomful of awards and the critical and fan accolades that have defined his phenomenal success lies a connection that goes beyond his undeniable talent and his proven knack for picking hits. Since the days when “Life’s A Dance” turned him from an unknown artist into a national star, John Michael’s rich baritone has carried that most important of assets—believability. Few artists in any genre sing with more heart than this handsome Kentucky-born artist.
It is readily apparent in love songs that have helped set the standard for a generation. Songs like “I Swear,” “I Love the Way You Love Me” and “I Can Love You Like That” still resonate across the landscape—pop icon and country newcomer Jessica Simpson cited “I Love The Way You Love Me” as an influence in a recent interview. It is apparent in the 2004 hit “Letters From Home,” one of the most moving tributes to the connection between soldiers and their families ever recorded, and in “The Little Girl,” a tale of redemption that plumbs both the harrowing and the uplifting. It is apparent even in the pure fun that has always found its way into John Michael’s repertoire—songs like “Be My Baby Tonight” and “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident),” where John Michael’s vocal earnestness takes musical whimsy to another level.
John Michael’s origins lie in deceptively modest beginnings. He was born in Danville, Kentucky, to parents who imparted a lifelong love of music.
“Where most people have chairs and sofas in their living rooms,” laughs John Michael, “we had amplifiers and drum kits.”
The family band played on weekends throughout the area, and John Michael and his brother Eddie eagerly soaked up everything about it.
“To a certain extent,” he says, “my dad always had a natural ability to draw fans and entertain people; I don’t care if it was on the front porch, the living room, or on a stage. I think that transitioned to me and my brother being able to do that on stage.”
John Michael took over lead singing chores after his parents divorced, and he performed for a while in a band called Early Tymz with Eddie and their friend Troy Gentry. Nashville talent scouts began hearing about and then seeing John Michael perform and by the early ‘90s he had a record deal.
The hits followed steadily, with songs like “Rope The Moon,” “If You’ve Got Love,” “No Man’s Land,” “Cowboy Love,” “As Long As I Live,” “Friends” and “How Was I To Know” establishing him as one of the elite acts of the era. He received the CMA Horizon award and was named the ACM’s Top New Vocalist, setting off a long series of awards that included the CMA’s Single and Song of the Year, Billboard’s Top Country Artist, and a Grammy nomination. Heavy touring meant he kept the close touch with fans he had begun in the clubs back home.
“You get to know your fans and what they like more and more through the years,” he says, “and you kind of gravitate towards one another.”
Indeed, he has always had an extraordinarily close relationship with his fans, and they have stayed with him through good and bad times.
Asked what he thinks gave him the edge in a career that calls millions but gives stardom to just a few, he pauses, then thinks back to the legacy of his parents.
“I reckon it was good genes and good blood,” he says with a smile. Few who know the depth and breadth of his own growing legacy would disagree.
Among John Michael Montgomery’s achievements are four Academy of Country Music Awards, three Country Music Association Awards, one American Music Award, four Billboard Awards (Single, Top Country Artist, Top Male Artist), and two Grammy nominations. He was also named Artist of the Year by American Songwriter Magazine. Fair Manager Peck this week announced the following ticket prices: VIP Reserved Track Seats ($45), Reserved Track Seats ($35), General Admission Grandstand ($25).
The 2019 Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair (Tuesday, July 30 through Sunday, August 4) features the following grandstand entertainment schedule:
The Annual Firemen’s Parade will be held on Wednesday, July 31 and will feature local fire departments and high school bands, and is sure to pack the grandstand. Admission is free.
Gouverneur and St, Lawrence County Fairgoers were captivated with the infectious joy and energy of the Amish Outlaws during last year’s fair. They will return to perform at the 2019 Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair on Thursday, August 1 at 7:30 p.m. The ticket price is $15. With a set that is always evolving as the Brothers discover more and more music and culture, The Amish Outlaws constantly surprise the audience and keep them guessing as to what they could possibly play next, from Johnny Cash to Jay Z, Lady Gaga to Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, Pitbull to Elvis Presley, Luke Bryan to Dropkick Murphys, to theme songs from the TV shows they have come to know. Throughout, The Outlaws spin yarns about the Brothers' upbringing and adventures since Rumpspringa. Amish Outlaw gigs are less performances than they are initiations into the life of an Amish Outlaw and parties celebrating the Brothers' newfound freedom.
On Friday, August 2 at 7 p.m. will be the local talent show. The grandstand is free.
Fully Completely Hip, the Tragically Hip Tribute Band will take the grandstand stage on Saturday, August 3 at 7:30 p.m. The ticket price is $10. Just a stone’s throw from the birthplace of Canada’s most iconic band, Fully Completely Hip hail from the small town of Cornwall Ontario, Canada. After leaving his full time band the Trench Town Oddities in late 2016, frontman Sean Harley knew he wanted to do something new and exciting. He’d been toying with the idea of putting together some type of tribute act but was torn as to which one he really wanted to do. Having a few ideas lined up, things did not begin to crystallize until after seeing the Tragically Hip on TV for their historical concert from Kingston Ontario Canada on August 20, 2016. Being a fan of the Hip since he was a teenager, Sean had short listed the Hip (and a few unmentionables) as possible projects but sitting through that show and remembering all the great songs the band had to offer made the decision easy.
In the early months of 2017, on a cold Canadian winters night, Sean gathered together an unlikely group musicians to jam. Even after the first song, the group of musical misfits knew they were onto something special. Made up of seasoned musicians, Fully Completely Hip consisting of fellow ex-Oddities drummer Randy Lalonde, multi-musician Ron Piquette (Winston Marley, Beyond the Void) on rhythm Guitar, Jesse Andrews on lead guitar, and Matt Leger (Red Flag) on Bass.
Having hit the road hard in 2017, the band played many markets in the North East including New York and Vermont as well as Ontario and Quebec on the Canadian side. Having played a mixture of club shows, casinos and festivals, the band has already established themselves as one of the premier Tragically Hip Tribute acts and continue to gain new fans at every appearance.
On Sunday, August 4 at 1 p.m., Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair will hold the much-anticipated annual demolition derby. The ticket price is $15, $10 for those 10 years of age or under.
Fair Manager Peck also announced that there will be free ground acts all week, including the following fairgoer favorites: Eudora Interactive Petting Zoo, Rosaire’s Racing Pigs. There are also plans in the works for a Family Fund Day on Saturday, August 3.
Fair Manager Peck also announced that Coleman Bros. Carnival will be bring aa new large spectacular ride to the Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fairgrounds this year!
Tickets go on sale this Monday, March 18. Visit gouverneurfair.net for more information.