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Kansas City Blues And Jazzman Mark Montgomery, From Basement Recordings To A New CD

Courtesy Mark Montgomery

For three decades, Kansas City singer/songwriter Mark Montgomery has played guitar, bass, and harmonica in blues and jazz bands — and he's also a beekeeper

Montgomery spoke with Fish Fry host Chuck Haddix about his latest album, the first on his own Love Honey label, called "Difficult Man."

CHUCK HADDIX: "It's really an all-star date. You've got Max Berry on it, Brian Ruskin, Brandon Hudspeth, and Amanda Fish, and Caleb Aldrich, and Denny Osburn on lap steel and piano. This is kind of a community thing.

"How did this CD come about?"

MARK MONTGOMERY: "Well, Denny Osburn, who is just an extremely talented fellow, he's been doing a lot of work with me on the project — we had been recording in his basement. He's got a recording studio in his basement and does some track works. So, you know, any time I felt like throwing a tune down, I'd go up to his house, and we'd sit in the basement. 

"And one night, I was sitting there and I was like, 'How many songs do we have, Denny?' And he got in there and after a few minutes, 'Well, it looks like about 10.' And I was like, 'Ok, time to go get it done.'"

HADDIX: "In your credits here, you say 'guitar, bass, harmonica, and vocal,' but also it should say 'storyteller.' One of the things I think that distinguishes your music is that you're a good songwriter, and you tell a story." 

MONTGOMERY: "Well, that's just what it's ended up. I started playing solo a few years ago. And when I started songwriting, they were just stories, they're kind of life stories. So, yeah, it's been fun."

HADDIX: "The title track, tell us about this one."  

MONTGOMERY: "'Difficult Man' is just another one of those songs. I wrote it years ago, but never really did anything with it. It was kind of sitting around. And so Denny and I whipped it up one night in the studio. It's a difficult song, but a really fun project. 

"I send it out to anybody who's ever lived with anybody else. And all the difficult men out there and all the women who love them." 

HADDIX: "Also, in addition to your musical career, you are a beekeeper."

MONTGOMERY: "Ah, yeah, yeah, beekeeping. There's that (laughs)." 

HADDIX: "How did you get into beekeeping?"

MONTGOMERY: "Well, my mom had arthritis a number of years ago, God rest her soul. So she decided to try beekeeping, and she had a neighbor friend that kind of talked her into it. We all kind of supported it. And then my parents were in a really horrible car accident that they both survived barely, and I took over her bees that summer, 1993, I think?

"And I just got hooked at that point, and within two or three years, I had about 20 or so colonies running. It was just a lot of work, but it was so much fun and I enjoyed it. I just haven't been able to give it up since."

Fish Fry host Chuck Haddix's extended interview with Mark Montgomery is archived in the first hour of the July 7, 2017 episode.

For more information about upcoming performances, check Mark Montgomery's website.

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter at @lauraspencer.

In 1984, Chuck Haddix aka Chuck Haddock joined the staff of KCUR as a jazz producer. The next year, he began producing the Fish Fry. You can reach him at haddixc@umsystem.edu.
Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.