John Michael Montgomery closes fair concerts

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Country music star will bring decades of popular songs to the Tulare County Fair stage
@TheSunGazette
TULARE – Music is in John Michael Montgomery’s blood. Each chord is a heartfelt memory of family, fun and love that he has put to song and has resonated with millions of fans.
Montgomery will bring decades of popular songs to the closing day of the 100th anniversary Tulare County Fair on Sunday, Sept. 15. He has sold 16 million albums, secured 15 number one singles and earned four Billboard Awards with love songs that set the standard for a generation of country music fans. Songs like “I Swear,” “I Love the Way You Love Me” and “I Can Love You Like That” still resonate across the landscape. In the 2004 hit “Letters From Home,” a moving tribute to the connection between soldiers and their families, and in “The Little Girl,” a tale of redemption that plumbs both the harrowing and the uplifting. Montgomery also knows how to have fun with songs like “Be My Baby Tonight” and “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident),” where John Michael’s vocal earnestness takes musical whimsy to another level.
Montgomery’s talent is in his roots. He was born in Danville, Kentucky, to parents who imparted a lifelong love of music.
“Where most people have chairs and sofas in their living rooms,” laughs John Michael, “we had amplifiers and drum kits.”
The family band played on weekends throughout the area, and John Michael and his brother Eddie eagerly soaked up everything about it.
“To a certain extent,” he says, “my dad always had a natural ability to draw fans and entertain people; I don’t care if it was on the front porch, the living room, or on a stage. I think that transitioned to me and my brother being able to do that on stage.”
John Michael took over lead singing chores after his parents divorced, and he performed for a while in a band called Early Tymz with Eddie and their friend Troy Gentry. Nashville talent scouts began hearing about and then seeing John Michael perform and by the early 1990s he had a record deal.
“I reckon it was good genes and good blood,” he says with a smile. 
The full line-up of concerts features at the Tulare County Fair include The Marshall Tucker Band on opening day; Uncle Kracker on Thursday, Sept. 12; Ashanti on Friday, Sept. 13; and 38 Special on Saturday, Sept. 14.
In addition to the headliners, the Tulare County Fair, Sept. 11-15, will offer a variety of displays and events in honor of the centennial celebration, including a decade-by-decade look back at the fair’s history, created by local 4H and FFA students.
The sixth annual CCPRA kick-off rodeo happens on Saturday, Sept. 7, at the fair’s Grandstand, featuring trick roper, gun spinner and whip cracker Rider Kiesner. Gates open at 6 p.m., rodeo begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available online; box seats are also available. New youth events include mutton bustin’ and wild pony rides for kids under the age of 12. To enter, visit www.tcfair.org.
General admission to the rodeo is $10 presale; $15 at the gate; parking is $6. VIP dinner is available for $100 per person featuring preferred seating, refreshments and dinner. Box seats are also available.
New, free-with-admission entertainment includes comedians, exotic animals, the Veloci-Raptor dinosaur, comedians and jugglers. The new Magic Bean display helps children understand where their food comes from and how it ends up in their kitchen. Visit www.tcfair.org for information, discounted unlimited rides wristbands and season passes, and ongoing updates to the schedule of events, or call the fairgrounds office at 686-4707.