Enjoying the Country Music Star Life with Bo Garrett

Imagine playing guitar in front of 100,000 screaming fans! Bo Garrett does not need to imagine, he has done it.  Bo, a Lawrenceburg resident, plays lead guitar for Montgomery Gentry.  He has been their lead guitar player since the band’s inception, in 1999. What is it like to be in a band that has been as popular as Montgomery Gentry, touring the country, and playing before 10’s of thousands of people?  Bo shared some of his thoughts and experiences with us.

Bo was born in Prestonburg, in eastern Kentucky.  He started playing the guitar at age 6, but his real love at the time was baseball.  At about 15 or 16, he took 4 guitar lessons. The teacher told his mom not to bring him back. The teacher said, “There is nothing more I can teach him.”

Bo was off and running.  He practiced at least 3 to 4 hours a day.  Up at 6:00 am, he practiced for an hour before school then 2-3 hours after.  He practiced so much his fingertips bled.  Then he bandaged them up and kept playing.  Even now, he practices at least an hour a day, more when on the road.  But more about that later.

Bo does not read music. Surprisingly, many musicians do not.  There is a numbering system that is used in place of the note system most of us are used to seeing.  This may be surprising, but in a recent news article on the death of Sir George Martin, the Beatles longtime producer, he is quoted as saying none of the Beatles could read music either.

His professional career started in 1989/1990 playing in a heavy metal band. Since then, he has played various genres, including bluegrass, gospel, classic rock and of course, country.  In addition to playing with Montgomery Gentry, he has formed a blues rock band called “Black Dog Project.”  The video of their first song “Where the Devil Won’t Go” should be available digitally everywhere by the time you read this article.  If not, in the next day or two.

In 1999, Montgomery Gentry released the single, “Hillbilly Shoes” and the album, “Tattoos and Scars.”  Since then, they have had four platinum albums and several gold records.  It has meant being on the road about 200 nights a year, playing 80 shows.  There are lots of cool things about this, but it is also 200 nights spent away from family on one of the 3 buses they use when they are touring.

The way that generally works is, when a show is over, you get on the buses and head for the next show.  Depending on how tight the schedule, they may “deadhead” which means they only stop for gas and food, then back on the bus. This can get really old and boring, so this is a great time for Bo to practice and compose.

Interestingly, very little practice time is spent on Montgomery Gentry songs. Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd said to Bo, “If I can’t play ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ by now, I never will,” and Bo says, “If I can’t play ‘Hillbilly Shoes’ by now, I never will”.  When possible, many of the band members try to relax by getting away from the buses and show sites.

Musically, Bo has had the opportunity to play with some of the biggies, Skynyrd, Ted Nugent and Kid Rock, among others.  He has gotten to know many of the stars in the music world.  He has performed on television numerous times, including shows on CMT and even the Tonight Show.

When they performed at Soldier Field in Chicago, they were touring with Kenny Chesney, with 100,000 people in the stands and on the field.  Bo, who is a big sports fan, and a Chicago Bears fan, was wearing a Brian Urlacher jersey (the Chicago Bears linebacker) to the delight of the people in Chicago.  During the show, just offstage, was the quarterback for the Bears, Jay Cutler.  He was dissing Bo for not wearing his jersey instead.

Many famous people are fans of Montgomery Gentry and their celebrity status gives them an opportunity to meet Bo and the other members of the band.  One time a security guard asked Bo if he had a few minutes because Brett Favre wanted to talk with him.  Brett then spent time with Bo and his son.

The security guard then came back and asked if he could talk with the backup quarterback, again, Bo said yes.  So Aaron Rodgers got to meet Bo and spend time with him and his son.  Over the years, Bo has spent time with a variety of sports stars, including Dale Earnhardt Jr from NASCAR and Chipper Jones from the Atlanta Braves to name a few.  It has been said, “all athletes want to be rock stars and all rock stars want to be athletes.”

Bo also has had the opportunity to do some other interesting things.  For example, pit passes at Talladega and other NASCAR races, a tour of the Harley Davidson plant and a cameo role in the movie “Crazy Heart”.  You will recognize Bo as the acoustic guitar player during Colin Farrell’s performance as an up and coming country singer.

Time away from home and his wife, Jeanne, is not easy.   But as Bo said, there are many guitar players that wish they could be him, so he is very appreciative of what he has.  Bo is on Twitter and Instagram.  He can be reached at @FirebirdBo and Montgomery Gentry at @mgunderground.
Bo is a huge UK fan, so “Go Cats!”

-Written by Don West

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPin on PinterestEmail this to someone
Posted in Fun & Entertainment.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.