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Those Montgomery Gentry boys are in high gear and on a roll

Story by Larry Holden - Photo by Morrison/Wulffraat

It's high noon. Troy Gentry and Eddie Montgomery are on a couple of beefed-up Harleys rumbling down a ribbon of blacktop in the desert near Las Vegas. The road snakes toward the distant Spring Mountain Range, jutting into a cloudless sapphire sky.

"The first time I got on a motorcycle I was five," remembers Eddie, as his Harley rolls to a stop in the sand next to Troy's. "My dad and mom fixed up this little minibike. I took off through the backyard, ran over a swing set and went through a fence. That got me started."

Troy's debut ride was less dramatic. "That was back in high school," he recalls. "But I was just as hooked. I couldn't afford my own motorcycle back then, but I rode borrowed dirt bikes and street bikes every chance I got."

Now Troy and Eddie both own Harleys - and they've made room on their equipment trailer for their bikes. "Our days on the road are hectic," explains Troy. "They're jammed with interviews, sound checks and shows. Getting out on our bikes will be a blast."

So, what does hopping on a Harley do for them?

"It's the perfect way to relax," declares Troy. "It allows your inner being to become one with the wind and nature. It calms you down."

Eddie nods, adding, "Rollin' along in the wide open spaces gives you a big sense of freedom.

"And," he continues, "I love all the different smells, comin' and goin.' When I'm on a bike in the springtime, I can smell a woman's perfume as she passes by in a car. The smells are fantastic."

As heat curls off the desert, the Montgomery Gentry boys shift gears to talk about performing the last three years at the annual Bike Week near Sturgis, S.D.

"We've made a lot of great friends and seen some incredible custom motorcycles out there," notes Eddie. "You always get to see the new bikes from Harley, Honda, Indian and everybody else. And the people there love to ride - from Robert Redford to all kinds of professionals. Instead of hardcore bikers, I think there's more corporate folks there than anybody."

Troy agrees. "Yeah, being there with real people is the best. I love talking to the extreme bikers, doctors, lawyers, school teachers and everybody else. It's great fellowship.

"When we go to Sturgis," sums up Troy, "we get to play music, meet great folks and ride our scooters. How could it get better than that?"

As the afternoon temperature rises, Troy and Eddie no doubt wish there was a cold one comin' on. Or maybe they wish they had a cold one to guzzle. Meanwhile, their current single, "Cold One Comin' On," is warming hearts all across America. "We get cards about people losing loved ones to cancer and people talk to us about getting through tough illnesses," reveals Eddie. "When they say our song helped them through the hard times, that means so much to us."

Eddie pauses. "We sing songs about parties, but we also sing about tough things in real life," he says. "So our tunes cover the good and the bad."

That was exactly their goal with their latest album, Carrying On.

"We tried to put together an album of songs so strong that any of them could be a single," notes Troy. "As a consumer, I feel cheated if a CD only has three or four really good songs on it. So we worked hard to make sure the folks who plunk down their hard-earned money for our CD get their money's worth."

Audiences will soon be getting their money's worth when the high-energy Montgomery Gentry show hits the road, once again sponsored by Jim Beam.

"We're going out with Kenny Chesney on some shows and we'll hook up with other artists," notes Eddie. "We're gonna play everyplace we can. We're at home when we're onstage."

During their holiday break, Troy went hunting with a shotgun and Eddie, well, he did his hunting with an entirely different kind of weapon.

"Santa Claus brought my wife Angie and me a matching pair of over-and-under shotguns," beams Troy. "We have friends in Livingston, Ala., who have a wildlife management place called P-Arrow Plantation. Their specialty is quail hunting. So Angie and I took our new guns down there - and she shot her first birds. I'm such an outdoorsman, seeing Angie enjoying the outdoors means a lot to me."

A Christmas present also started Eddie tracking "prey." "I got a video camera for Christmas," he notes with a grin. "I've never had one before - and I love it. It's very addictive. I've caught my daughters, sons and wife in some, let's say, weird places - capturing them all on video. They're pretty upset with me over that. And I have to keep those tapes hidden, 'cause if they knew where they were they might destroy 'em."

And Eddie serves notice that he'll be taking his new toy on the bus. "I'm gonna be turned loose with a video camera," he warns with a hardy chuckle.

"So, Troy and everybody else - look out!"