He was born in Philadelphia (1960), grew up in South Jersey and now lives in Memphis, Tennessee. That’s the short version. Lets connect the dots. Learning to play his brother’s guitar on the sly, Dan played in a bunch of teen garage bands including Samuel Jay (Bad Company a specialty) and the 10 piece R&B based Below Average White Band (they played “Heatwave” three times each set – not that anyone asked them to) around Pennsauken, NJ. In his late teens Dan began playing at Camden, NJ’s semi-legendary club The Perimeter. It was a great place to play: people sat quietly and listened. Dan says: “It gave me a totally false sense of what to expect elsewhere”.
A few years later Dan spent time as soundman and road manager for The Ben Vaughn Combo. It was an amazing adventure touring the country for five years, learning how it all worked (and sometimes how it didn’t work), how to structure shows yet still be able to be spontaneous in the moment, how to live on $5/day and still really enjoy it! Dan also fronted several bands in Philly, most notably the Flamin’ Groovies/MC5 inspired Drugs Before Breakfast and Pub Rockers Del Pez. The latter band released a single on the King of Rock label entitled ‘Hope I Had a Good Time’.
Personal and musical unrest led to an ill-fated move to the California desert. The isolation brought him back to his Perimeter roots style and a solo career was born. The huge upshot of this move was a visit to Memphis along the way out West, where Dan met his new bride. “Cali tanked and going back to Jersey was a backwards step, so I came to Memphis for a summer and have been here several years now. I’ve planted my seeds here and I cant imagine living anywhere else now”.
In 2003 Dan released his first solo album entitled ‘Man From Out Of State‘. An acoustic based travelogue that looks back at ten years, three thousand miles and almost as many sleepless nights. Reviews were excellent especially in Europe and Dan hit the road often with accordionist Gus Cordovox and bassist Neal Arot (the core players on the record). Dan followed the album up with the highly ambitious concept album ‘Rosetta, Please (A Love Story)’. Rosetta was the story of a guy Dan met many years ago in a NJ bar, who was an ex-con and his girlfriend (Rosetta) a prostitute. The album was a bigger hit and even made several Year End Best Of lists (including The Philadelphia Inquirer and North Carolina’s Independent). The key song “Favorite Color” even went to number two on radio in Corpus Christi, TX. Americana bible No Depression called it “An Astonishing Album”! Much touring with the band on the record (The Professional Baddasses) followed.
Then in 2010 he got ready to release his third work ‘You’ll Never Be A Bird‘, a twelve song piece of what Dan called ‘Omni folk’. A sprawling record that ran the gamut from lilting ballads to outright heavy rockers, ‘You’ll Never Be A Bird’ featured the amazing musicianship of Robert Maché (Steve Wynn, Continental Drifters, The Mumps) on guitar and mandolin among others. “I’ve worked long and hard on this album”, said Montgomery, “Going so far as to scrap two previous attempts because they just weren’t up to par”. Again much touring followed its release, from smokey corner bars to intimate listening rooms, house concerts to concert halls, solo or with his full band. Dan Montgomery proves night after night that he’s a compelling and entertaining performer.
And now it’s time for his fourth release with the smart title ‘Sin, Repent, Repeat’! This title fits perfectly with Dan himself as well as his songs. It is a moody, emphatic ride through the lives of a number of happy and mostly unhappy song characters. There are a few ballads and slower songs on the well-balanced album, but most tracks are sturdy, raw roots rock. An extra dimension is added by piano, saxophone, violin and harmony vocals by Candace Maché, a pleasing counterpoint to the unfriendly growl of Dan. Thirteen tracks, just as unmoved and stoic as the album title, never shy away from any difficult subject. An endless row of bitter relationships, abuse of drugs, loneliness and especially a lot of thinking with a bottle within arm’s reach. Intense subjects, brought with a sly, sharp sense of humor and a surprising honesty which brings the song characters to life.
Co-producer Robert Maché was the ideal partner to realize his musical vision for this raw rock record. A skilled team brings out the best in everybody and a good working atmosphere gives the music that little extra. If you take the time to listen, the expressions will grow on you. Dan is not the only one who writes about these themes and subjects: troubled relationships, addictions and loneliness – but the dynamic, original, sharp style is all his own approach. It leaves a small way out from the endless dark circle, with a bit of humor and self-mocking. There needs to be a connection with the ‘cast-iron songs and torch ballads’, what the artist offers has to be genuine, from the inside, you need to feel it… (Yes, there is a lyrics booklet, hallelujah!)