Music Is Medicine

Montgomery Gentry, Darryl Worley, Blue County, Leroy Parnell, Lucy Angel, Storme Warren and some world-class songwriters come together to defeat cancer—and have a blast doing it—at Country in the Rockies!

The recent 14th Annual Country in the Rockies in Steamboat Springs, Colo., was four days of skiing, tubing, horseback riding, snowmobiling, snowboarding, guitar pickin’ and partying. And while a great time was definitely there for the taking, the over-riding purpose of the event was to raise big bucks for the T.J. Martell Foundation and its battle against cancer. Here’s what some of the country stars who made the trip to Steamboat had to say about the good times and the good cause.

Troy Gentry

Troy Gentry

CW
This subject, cancer, touched you pretty dearly in the past few months. Talk a little about what T.J. Martell means to you.
TG
Unfortunately, cancer—along with many other diseases—is one we’re still battling, trying to find a cure. I just lost my mom right after Thanksgiving last year to cancer. It’s a shame and a tough thing for people to go through. So any way that I can help make a difference—either raising money for research or providing money for families in need, going through this kind of situation—I would love to try to make a difference.
CW
If you’re gonna help out, this is a pretty painless way to do it, isn’t it?
TG
It is. It’s pretty much a free vacation to come work here. It’s a lot of fun. We’ve got to bring our families up here with us to play in the snow a little bit, but also to play some music and try and make a difference.
CW
What do you really enjoy in terms of cold-weather sports?
TG
A little bit of everything. I’ve snowmobiled in the past. This is my first time on skis. And growin’ up in Kentucky, I love ridin’ horses, but I’ve never ridden in the snow. So we’re tryin’ to cover all the bases while we’re here.
CW
Ok let’s be honest, who’s more athletic—you or Eddie?
TG
Well, I can grow a better beard than he can! I grew up playing baseball, football and basketball. I was pretty athletic throughout school and a little bit in college. So I may have a little bit more athletic ability than Eddie has. I know this morning, Tracy got halfway down the hill and had an accident, then Eddie got halfway down the hill, and he was laying down and got up and decided he didn’t want to ski. So he took off his skis and poles and walked down the rest of the hill!

Eddie Montgomery

CW
Sorry to hear about [Eddie’s wife] Tracy’s fall on the ski slopes. Is she OK?
EM
It was her first and last time skiing. She said after she put the boots on, she knew it wasn’t for her. The only reason why she done it was because she couldn’t get back down the hill [without skiing]. She wanted to just be done with it then when she got off the lift. It was like, “Well, you’re gonna have to ski down.” So, she tore [her knee] on the way down.
CW
She’s having surgery as soon as she gets home?
EM
Yeah, she tore her ACL, meniscus, MCL . . . all of it. Anything that’s got initials in it.
CW
Why’d you want to do this event?
EM
We’ve been very, very blessed. The Man Upstairs has blessed me and T Roy and our families. Of course, we always helped back home before we were nationally known—with floods or somebody with cancer. And, of course, my dad passed away with cancer in ’94. Let me tell you, this country and God have been very good to us and we want to give as much back as we can.
CW
Other than the skiing, are you havin’ a good time?
EM
I absolutely have had a blast. And just talkin’ to other artists and songwriters when you get to hang. Which a lot of times on the road you don’t get to. Because you’re in and doin’ the show, then you’re back out and you’re hittin’ somewhere else.
CW
Want to do it again?
EM
Oh yeah. We’d love to do it again. You won’t see us on the ski slopes, but we’ll be snowmobiling and horseback riding. But the slopes are done!

Darryl Worley

Darryl Worley

CW
When are you and Kimberly expecting the baby?
DW
Sometimes between the first and 12 of April. A little girl named Savannah Gail.
CW
Does that prospect make you totally reevaluate your life?
DW
I’ve lived the first half of this life . . . I think about it sometimes. I’ve probably been a little selfish and thought about what I wanted and all about myself more than I really should have—although I’m a pretty giving person. I think of myself as a pretty decent guy, and I’ve always tried to treat other people the way I wanted to be treated. But, I can tell that, since I found out about this baby, it has already changed my life. I think about stupid stuff that I do that would shorten my lifespan and I think, “All right, I’ve gotta cut out all the bad stuff so I can live as long as I can to see this girl grow up and be all that she can be.”
CW
Have you started writing any baby-related songs?
DW
Oh, yeah. You can’t help it. It just happens.
CW
You’re in the studio now?
DW
Yeah, we’ve already gone in and cut four sides and it’s incredible. We’re actually doin’ our record with the road band this time. Obviously it’s a different process, a little bit different approach. But my guys are super talented pickers, and they’ve been doin’ it for years and years and years. And they’re all stars in their own right.
CW
And they know you better then anybody else.
DW
Oh yeah, yeah. And some songs come off better in the beginning than others. But they do feel my vibe. I’ve got great guys and I’m so excited about the fact that they’re involved in this record. I think it’s gonna make the whole project really special. And I write with a lot of those guys, too, so we’ll have some co-writes on there. But we cut four songs the first go-around and all of us have gotten in there and listened, and we agree that three out of those four could be singles. And that doesn’t happen every time, I promise you. (chuckles) So we’re pretty jacked. We’ve got a song called “Sounds Like Life to Me” that may wind up bein’ the first release.
We were gonna try to get a single out in March, but we didn’t start recording quite as early as we hoped to, so it’ll probably be the first of April when we release the single.

Aaron Benward of Blue County
(from the stage during a guitar pull)

It’s amazing what an equalizer it can be in life when it [cancer] comes to you—physically, obviously. I’ve mentioned this story before, but when my 6-foot 6-inch, 240 pound father-in-law was stricken with lung cancer. The man never smoked a day in his life. Worked really hard, made some poor choices that he would admit to if he were here tonight. But all at once, you see him in a hospital bed, and a man you once looked at as strong is broken. And not only broken in the physical sense. That’s obvious, but broken in the sense of the man inside.

You see, there’s a reason some of the greatest authors who ever walked this planet would say things like “A perfect love casts out any type of fear.” And there’s a reason why some of the greatest authors that ever walked this planet say things like, “Love can cover a multitude of wrongs.” I know that to be true because I witnessed it firsthand. As I saw this broken . . . and it was the first time many of us had seen him cry. And they began to bring family members in one by one. And he’d tell them the things he loved about them, for the first time. He’d tell them the things that meant the most to him. And then, beyond that, he began to apologize for the wrongs he’d done. Because you see, in our brokenness, if we allow it to, the perfect love can heal. And after almost a 2 year battle, he went on to meet his Maker.

For more on Country in the Rockies, check out the March 24 issue of Country Weekly.

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