PROUD TO BE FREE

Montgomery Gentry do some time in Nashville's infamous "big house," and talk about their pride in America and salute the parents who tried hard to keep them on the straight and narrow

The gray clouds are spitting snow on an unseasonably cold, blustery Nashville day as the bus carrying Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry passes slowly through the giant double gate and under the rusted razor wire.

Country's rockin' duo have come to the imposing walls of the former Tennessee State Penitentiary for a photo shoot, and the weather suits the somber mood of the cold surroundings to a T - it's the perfect day to go to prison.

"It's really unbelievable, man, comin' into a place like this," declares Eddie quietly, as he and Troy - sometimes described as modern-day country music outlaws - walk down the hall of a still scary cellblock once known as "the hole."

"It really lets you know - you definitely want to live your life on the good side."

"It reminds you," adds Troy, "it doesn't matter how bad a day somebody can have, it could always be worse."

"Can you imagine being in a foxhole in Iraq right now with somebody tryin' to kill your ass," says Eddie, "or in one of these cells right here?"

"As long as you've got your freedom, it could always be worse," echoes Troy.

"All you gotta do is just look around," continues Eddie. "We've got it pretty damn good."

The boys do indeed have it pretty good these days. "If You Ever Stop Lovin' Me," the rockin' debut single from their You Do Your Thing CD, out May 18, is cruising upwards on the charts. They've been nominated for two ACM awards. And their most recent album, My Town, was just certified platinum, for sales of over 1 million copies.

To read more about Montgomery Gentry and their time spent in the big house, pick up this week's issue of Country Weekly magazine!

-- Story by David Scarlett

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