Thanks to a lengthy career, James Montgomery certainly has the kind of notoriety many bluesmen would kill for.
But in the coming year, with a new album and an appearance in the Morgan Freeman-produced documentary “Delta Rising,” the Detroit-born singer and harmonica player is finding his profile on the rise.
“Things have always worked out pretty well for me in New England,” says Montgomery, 61, who moved east in 1970 to attend Boston University, “but I am trying to get some stuff out there to increase my visibility, at least in other markets like Detroit and Chicago and the West Coast. Hopefully I’ll open up some of these areas more.”
While “Delta Rising” has been making the film festival rounds, there’s hope for a wider release and a possible DVD in 2011. Meanwhile, Montgomery is hoping for an early 2011 release for his new album, “From Detroit to the Delta,” which features a cover of John Lee Hooker’s “Motor City’s Burning” as well as guest appearances by Johnny Winter, Brad Whitford and Joey Kramer of Aerosmith, James Cotton and rapper Darryl “DMC” McDaniels on a version of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?”
Montgomery says the album was inspired by his travels to Clarksdale, Miss., where Freeman owns the Ground Zero Blues Club and gave Montgomery a chance to soak up the sounds of that legendary music community.
“It was just magical down there,” Montgomery recalls. “We really got to play with a lot of the Delta musicians down there, some of the old-timers who have been doing it forever, which was amazing.
“That was really the first time I ever played right in the Delta like that. I’ve played Memphis and New Orleans and those places, but never there. So the CD kinda traces the reverse journey; the blues came up to Chicago and Detroit from the Delta, and my journey started in Detroit and wound up down there.”
James Montgomery, with Jim McCarty and Johnny “Bee” Badanjek of the Rockets, performs Sunday, Dec. 26, at Dylan’s Raw Bar & Grille, 15402 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Park. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $20. Call 313-884-6030 or visit www.dylansrawbar.com.
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