John Michael Montgomery’s never been to Brownwood.
But that’s OK. To borrow a line from one of his own songs, it’ll be his baby tonight.
Montgomery, tonight’s headline entertainer for the seventh annual Brown-wood Reunion Cele-bration, said he plans “to mix it up pretty good.”
The mix includes a little of everything, Montgomery said.
“In every show I try to do the songs that make people laugh, cry and dance. That’s what I call a mix.”
Of course the crowd’s going to get some of those John Michael Montgomery classics — the chart-topping singles “I Swear,” “Be My Baby Tonight,” “If You Got Love” and “I Love the Way You Love Me,” as well as “Life’s a Dance,” his 1993 debut album that sold a million copies and his 2004 single, “Letters from Home,” that reached No. 5 on Billboard’s Country Singles chart.
“I don’t have a favorite,” Montgomery said in a phone interview Friday, “but a lot of my songs, I’m pretty sentimental about, all of them really.
“I enjoy singing the songs that touch me, and I know touch people, so when I cut songs, I choose the songs I know I’m going to enjoy singing and that’s how it is with my show. I enjoy singing the songs as much today as when I cut them.”
He looks for lyrics he figures will span the generations.
“Timeless is the word, I’m looking for, I guess. I want songs that 100 years from now will be just as good,” Montgomery said.
As a guitarist and former sound man, Montgomery said he loves musical arrangements and great instrumental parts, but listeners don’t necessarily remember a good solo; they do remember how a song’s lyrics touched them.
“I think country music is all about the lyrics,” Montgomery said. “People respond to what a song says, whether it’s something that tugs at their heart or just makes them smile.”
Montgomery, 42, has been on tour most of the summer and the tour bus has become a home-away-from-home. Friday night he did a show in Oklahoma, and it will be midday, he figures before they make it to Brownwood.
“If we can, we like to get out and walk around,” Montgomery said. “Sometimes that works with the schedule, we just have to see how it goes.”
Tickets for the show are going to be available at the Reunion Stage gate for $25. Gates open at 5 p.m. and at 6:20 p.m. Samantha Bush will sing the National Anthem for the start of the evening show.
The Brown County’s Got Talent winner will be announced at 6:45 p.m. and at 7 p.m. the Ryan Tharp Band goes on stage. Chris Thompson and the Split Second Band are scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
The fireworks spectacular is set to go off at 10 p.m., and, at 10:10 p.m. Montgomery will take the stage.
When this summer’s tour ends, Montgomery said, he’ll be working on producing another album. He’s started his own label — String Town.
“Down the road,” he said, “I’d like to not only make records for myself, but help other young artists.
“I’ve been singing since I was a kid, and I would’ve hated to see it come and go all at once. I’ve seen a lot of changes since 1992. The main thing I’ve learned is to just be myself, to treat people kindly, and if you give radio a good song, they’ll play it. I know how lucky it is to be successful in this business, and I’ve always tried to let the fans, the deejays and the people I work with how much I appreciate them.”
Tonight, John Michael Montgomery will be singing that message in Brownwood.