James Montgomery was born on May 12, 1949 in Detroit, Michigan. He grew up in Detroit where his father, John Montgomery, worked for Chrysler as a public relations executive. His brother, John Montgomery, also worked in the music industry before becoming an entrepreneur in the Metro Detroit area. His younger brother, Jeffrey Montgomery, is a LGBT activist primarily known for being the founding executive director of Triangle Foundation (today Equality Michigan).
"While attending Boston University, where he earned a degree in English literature, Mr. Montgomery started the James Montgomery Band. During his junior year, he was hired by the Colwell-Winfield Blues Band to play harmonica and tour with Janis Joplin. By the time he graduated college his band was on the cover of the Boston Phoenix, heralded along with J. Geils and Aerosmith as the city's great contributions to the music world. Though he said he loved the academic life, when offered a $15,000 job at BU, Mr. Montgomery took a $250,000 offer to record records and tour with the Allman Brothers instead, and never looked back." by Pamela Marean, Standard-Times correspondent, September 6, 2007
In 1970 Montgomery formed The James Montgomery Band. His harmonica playing, singing and energetic stage show led to his band gaining a reputation as one of the hottest bands on the New England music scene. James Montgomery was signed by Capricorn Records to a multi-album deal and released his first vinyl LP album titled The James Montgomery Band – First Time Out in 1973. The original LP recordings were remastered and released as a CD in October 20, 1998 by Capricorn / Umgd. Track 9 off his first album tilted "Train" was a fan favorite and became the Number 1 song on WBCN, The Rock of Boston. They played it every day at noon-time for over a year. In 2011, Montgomery brought "Train" back as a surprise encore at shows.
Montgomery has toured with many artists, including Aerosmith, The J. Geils Band, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, The Allman Brothers, The Steve Miller Band, The Johnny Winter Band, The Blues Brothers with (Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd) and others.
James Montgomery has performed on stage with a long list of musicians including
B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Junior Wells, James Cotton, Bonnie Raitt, Steven Tyler (Aerosmith Frontman and American Idol TV Show Judge), Brad Whitford (Aerosmith guitarist), Charlie Daniels, Gregg Allman, LaVern Baker, Patti LaBelle, Jonathan Edwards, Jerome Geils (The J. Geils Band), Peter Wolf (The J. Geils Band), Magic Dick (The J. Geils Band), Danny Klein (The J. Geils Band), Huey Lewis (Huey Lewis and the News), Kim Wilson (The Fabulous Thunderbirds), Elliot Easton (The Cars), Rick Derringer, Ricky Byrd (formerly with Joan Jett and the Black Hearts), Barry Goudreau (former guitarist for Boston), Fran Sheehan (former bassist for Boston), Sib Hashian (former drummer for Boston), Chad Smith (The Red Hot Chili Peppers), Billy Squier, Michael Carabello (percussionist in Santana), Jon Butcher (Johanna Wild, The Jon Butcher Axis and today Farren Butcher Inc), Bruce Marshall (lead singer/guitarist for The Toy Caldwell Band and The Bruce Marshall Group), Dennis "Fly" Amero (Orleans), Duke Robillard, Jon Pousette-Dart (The Pousette-Dart Band), Jonathan Edwards, Kate Taylor, Christine Ohlman "The Beehive Queen", Mike Finnigan, Grace Kelly, The Uptown Horns, the famous Manhattan, New York-based horn section for B.B. King, James Brown, The Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, The J. Geils Band and more). The Uptown Horns is composed of Larry Etkin (trumpet), Crispin Cioe(sax), Arno Hecht (sax), and Bob Funk (trombone). Their signature horn riffs can be heard on American chart busting songs including Grammy-award winning James Brown, the Godfather of Soul's "Living in America", The B-52's Love Shack LP, Buster Poindexter's (a.k.a. David Johansen) "Hot Hot Hot", Joe Cocker's Unchain My Heart LP, Tom Waits' Rain Dogs LP, and Billy Joel's River of Dreams LP, and the upcoming LP by James Montgomery titled From Detroit to the Delta.
Montgomery recalls the night he played with Muddy Waters at Paul's Mall in Boston, Massachusetts. "I couldn't believe it. Here I was on stage with Muddy Waters," Montgomery recalls with a smile. "It was such a great feeling.".
James had his own syndicated radio show for five years called "Backstage With the Blues" on these stations:WJZS Swing 99.3 FM Block Island, Rhode Island
WADK 1540 AM Newport, Rhode Island and Fall River, Massachusetts
WFNX 92.1 FM Portland, Maine and Portsmouth, New Hampshire
KUSH 1600, Cushing, Oklahoma
The show combined great Blues songs along with the stories behind the music, told by the musicians themselves, it provided a bridge between the listeners and the artists as they reminisced about the history of their music. Some of his special guests were John Lee Hooker, James Cotton, Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt, Koko Taylor, Ruth Brown, Otis Clay, Son Seals, Duke Robillard, Rod Piazza, and many more.
James Montgomery has a soon to be released CD titled From Detroit to the Delta. Along with James' band, it features Special Guest Star Music Legends Super Harp James Cotton, Blues Guitar Legend Johnny Winter, Two Rock Stars from Aerosmith Brad Whitford (guitar) and Joey Kramer (drums), New York's horn section extraordinaire The Uptown Horns and Rap Star Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels from the group Run DMC.
May 12, 2012 The Reel Blues Fest Concert with Jonathan Edwards, Kate Taylor, James Montgomery and Bruce Marshall Duo and The Jason Spooner Trio at The Sea Crest Beach Hotel, Falmouth, MA
July 28, 2012 ~ Veterans Assisting Veterans Motorcycle Run and Concert with The James Montgomery Blues Band with Special Boston Legends Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (guitarist Steely Dan & The Doobie Brothers), three former members of Boston (Barry Goudreau (guitar), Fran Sheehan (bass), Sib Hashian (drums)), The Uptown Horns (Rolling Stones, B.B. King, J Geils Band, James Brown), Ayla Brown (American Idol Singer & daughter of Senator Scott Brown), Sandy McDonald at Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Lowell, MA.
August 8, 2012 ~ James Montgomery performed with his old friends and Capricorn Records label mates The Allman Brothers Band at The Bank of America Pavilion in Boston, Massachusetts. Matt Dolloff / 100.7 WZLX wrote: "Blues super-collaborator James Montgomery joined the band onstage for a special rendition of the Allmans’ famous cover of Blind Willie McTell's "Statesboro Blues", which you can watch in the video above Video on YouTube. Montgomery sounds as strong as ever on the harmonica, while Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes tear it up on the guitars."
August & September 2012 ~ The James Montgomery interview written by A.J. Wachtel goes Coast-To-Coast. James Montgomery was featured on the cover of the August issue of THE NOISE a Boston, Massachusetts, music magazine, and the article was featured in the September issue of BLUES-E-NEWS in Sacramento, California
December 2010 James did an impromptu session with Mick Jagger at New York's "Trax".
October 8, 2010 ~ The Reel Blues Fest ~ The James Montgomery Blues Band featuring David "HONEYBOY" Edwards ~ Michael Frank (Honeyboy Edwards Band) ~ Rocky Lawrence (Honeyboy Edwards Band) ~ Brad Whitford (Aerosmith) ~ Mike Carbello (Santana, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) ~ Barry Goudreau (formerly guitarist for Boston, Ernie and the Automatics) ~ Sib Hashian (formerly drummer for Boston, Ernie and the Automatics) ~ David Hull (toured with Aerosmith, Joe Perry, James Montgomery) ~ George McCann (Steven Tyler Solo Band, James Montgomery) ~ Seth Pappas (Barrence Whitfield, James Montgomery) ~ The Uptown Horns (Rolling Stones, B.B. King, J. Geils Band) ~ Doug Bell (guitarist/singer/songwriter/bandleader of Bellevue Cadillac – 7 Grammy Nominations) ~ Grace Kelly (18-year-old saxophone phenom) ~ Desireé Bassett (17-year-old guitar phenom) ~ Erin Harpe and The Delta Swingers
February 3, 2011, Colonial Theatre, Keene, NH ~ February 4, 2011, Lynn Memorial Auditorium, Lynn, MA ~ February 5, 2011, Mechanicas Hall, Worcester, MA ~ The Reel Blues Fest presented ~ Legends of Rock 'N Blues ~ 3 Shows with the James Montgomery Blues Band, Edgar Winter Band, Rick Derringer Band, Brad Whitford (Aerosmith) and Brooks Young
August 7, 2011 ~ Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler saved the day at a rain soaked music festival in Scituate, Massachusetts. Steven joined his old friend and Blues Harp Legend James Montgomery on stage. The James Montgomery Blues band also had two other special guest guitarists on stage at the same time, Brad Whitford (Aerosmith) and Jon Butcher were part of this special impromptu session. A crowd appeared out of nowhere fast thanks to the use of cell phones and text messages, before the band knew it the street was full of people dancing in the rain to the sound of their music. It was all over the TV news that night because it saved the day of what would have been a total washout for this annual free outdoor waterfront music event.
September 4, 2011 ~ B.B. King & James Montgomery played together at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center in New Bedford, Massachusetts and the show was written about by Joyce Rowley in The New Bedford Guide
October 29, 2009 ~ The Reel Blues Fest ~ A Live Tribute to Blues Harp Legend and Grammy Award Winner James Cotton. This concert was held at The House of Blues Boston by The James Montgomery Blues Band with James Cotton (Grammy Award Winner Blues Harpist) ~ Huey Lewis (singer/bandleader of Huey Lewis and The News) ~ Jay Geils (guitarist J Geils Band) ~ Kim Wilson (singer/harmonica of The Fabulous Thunderbirds) ~ Barry Goudreau (guitarist Boston) ~ Sib Hasian (drummer Boston) ~ Michael Tunes Antunes (saxophone for John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band, and Ernie and the Automatics) ~ Brian Maes (singer/keyboards/harmonica Ernie and the Automatics) ~ Tim Archibald (bassist Ernie and the Automatics) ~ Ernie Boch (car mogul/guitarist/owner of Ernie and the Automatics) ~ Mike Finnigan ~ David Maxwell (pianist, touring band member with Freddie King, James Cotton, Jimmy Rogers, Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, Bonnie Raitt, Otis Rush, and Hubert Sumlin and more.) ~ Johnny A (guitarist honored by The Gibson Guitar Company, they produce The Johnny A. Signature Edition Guitar) ~ Paul Oscher (singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist) ~ Grace Kelly (17-year-old saxophone phenom) ~ Seth Pappas (Barrence Whitfield, James Montgomery, toured with Earl Scruggs, The Dillards, Vassar Clements) ~ David Hull (bassist toured with Aerosmith, Joe Perry, James Montgomery) ~ George McCann (guitarist The Blues Brothers, Steven Tyler Solo Band, James Montgomery) ~ Marty Ballou (bassist for Duke Robillard, Sax Gordon, Bill Harley, The Mystix and more) ~ The Uptown Horns ~ David Foster (vocalist/bandleader for the Mohegan Sun All-Stars, formerly the Shaboo All-Stars) ~ Matt Kelly (drummer Dropkick Murphys) ~ Michael Robert Kelly (bassist Trebec)
In 2007 James Montgomery recorded the title song for the film Delta Rising: A Blues Documentary, a fascinating film that documents the history of the blues, and more specifically, the birthplace of Blues, in the Delta, Clarksdale, Mississippi. It stars Morgan Freeman, Willie Nelson, James Montgomery, Bill Luckett, Jimbo Mathus, Scott Bomar, Chris Cotton, Ruby Wilson, James "Super Chikan" Johnson, Grace Kelly, Pinetop Perkins, David "Honeyboy" Edwards and others who tell their stories about the music, the life, the place, and importance of the Delta Blues sound in American Music. View the Delta Rising Film Trailer on YouTube.
In 2000 Montgomery received a gold record for his recording on the album Double Wide which was Uncle Kracker's first solo album released on June 30, 2000. It was produced by Kid Rock.
In February 2002 three tracks from the Bring in on Home CD were featured at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah during the hockey games. They were broadcast to over 2 billion people worldwide. "The players just kept requesting it!" said Dan Beach the 2002 Winter Olympics Music Director.
The James Montgomery and Bruce Marshall Duo opened for B.B. King's 70th Birthday at the Capital Center in Concord, New Hampshire in 2000 and recorded a LIVE 2-CD Set titled "Live at the Capitol Theater". James played again at B.B. King's 80th Birthday at Boston Symphony Hall on January 29, 2006.
Johnny Winter asked Montgomery to join the The Johnny Winter Band, along with Scott Spray and Wayne June for a National Tour of the West Coast and parts of Europe. As James put it, Johnny Winter was my boss for five years while I toured with him as his personal harmonica player. James continues to perform with Johnny Winter when they're not working on other projects. In 2004 the Johnny Winter Band consisted of Johnny Winter (Guitar, Vocals), James Montgomery (Blues Harp, Vocals), Paul Nelson (Guitar), Scott Spray (Bass) and Wayne June (Drums). See a 2004 promotional photo of the whole band HERE.
During the past 45 years Montgomery's band has been a springboard for many musicians careers. His band members have included Billy Squier, Wayne Kramer (MC-5), Jeff Golub (Rod Stewart), Jim McCarty (Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels), Nunzio Signore (Bo Diddley), Jeff Pevar (Ray Charles, Crosby, Stills & Nash), Bobby Chouinard (drummer with Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Billy Squier and Robert Gordon), Jeff Levine (Joe Cocker), Tom Gambel (Aerosmith), David Hull (substitute bassist for Aerosmith on their 2006, 2008 and 2014 tours, David Hull was the bassist for The Joe Perry Project, the band Farrenheit (with Charlie Farren and John "Muzz" Muzzy) and The Buddy Miles Band. In 2010 while still a member of Montgomery's band, David Hull released his first CD called Soul in Motion (David was the singer, songwriter, guitarist, bassist and producer of his own album). Plus many, many, more exceptional musicians have been members of Montgomery's band.