Filed under: Montgomery Express
From an early age, the parallel lives of Charles Atkins and Paul Montgomery were filled with music. Montgomery attended the Jackson School For the Blind in Jackson, Mississippi, and Atkins, the Florida school for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine, Florida. The pull of secular and non-secular alike weighed heavy on the budding musicians. After graduation, a Hurricane displaced Montgomery, who moved in with his Uncle Sandy in Indiantown, Florida. Montgomery found his way to the local Cadillac Club, where he brought the house down. Word traveled quickly to his Uncle Sandy, who signed on to manage his sensational nephew. In search of bandmates, Montgomery encountered Charles Atkins on a gig in Belle Glade, Florida. Their combined energy was electrifying, and Uncle Sandy realized the potential in a pairing. Sandy poached a talented group of teenagers from West Palm Beach bandleader Jerry Crick and christened the new group the Montgomery Express.
In 1972, the group booked time at S.R.S International Studios in Ft. Lauderdale to record seven originals and a cover of Eddie Floyd’s “Gotta Make a Comeback.” The owner of Orlando’s Dove label offered to record a proper debut for the group, but upon hearing their demos, decided to release them as is. A small quantity of LPs were pressed, but the album failed to gain traction. Atkins quit the band a year later to spend more time with his wife. Unbeknownst to membership or management, the Montgomery Express demos were licensed to and released by Folkways in 1974, creating an anomaly in the label’s deep catalog of field recordings and folk songs. Forty years later, the Montgomery Express makes another unexpected (but well deserved) appearance in the world’s LP bins, courtesy of the Numero Group.