Wednesday, March 28, 2012

From Lake To Stage With Troy Gentry

When two worlds collide, interesting things usually happen. Such was the case in Florida earlier this month, when country music star Troy Gentry invited us out for a day on the lake.

Gentry, a Kentucky native, began singing with Eddie Montgomery in 1999, founding one of country's most popular duos ever, Montgomery Gentry. The band has recorded five number-one hits and received numerous American Music and Country Music Association awards. With a sponsorship from Jim Beam running over 12 years, these "Rebels On The Run" are widely regarded as a staple in country music.
Gentry's 23 LSV
Water skiing made up a small part of Gentry's past, but the 44-year-old was recently exposed to wakesurfing in California and caught the bug -- and he wanted a boat. After thorough research on the web and talking to friends, Gentry decided that Malibu was the best boat for his needs. "I was looking for a good all-around water sports boat for me and the family," Gentry said. "I love the room, comfort and great looks of the 23 LSV and was impressed with how user-friendly it was. Plus, the wakesurfing wake is huge and clean." Once Gentry took delivery of his 2011 Wakesetter, he noticed this boat was creating more quality time with his family. "This was the best decision I could've ever made."

Troy Gentry
With Gentry's boat launched at the KOA Campground on Lake Whipporwhill, along with Freddie Wayne's brand-new Wakesetter MXZ from Liquid Sports Marine, we assembled our own crew including Malibu riders Brian Grubb and Alexa Score. Grubb, known for being the best-of-the-best in wakeskating, went to town on his Hyperlite signature wakesurfer, entertaining the crew with multiple shove-it variations, spins and overall waterman skills. He even inspired Gentry to try some 360's, which he came really close to sticking.

After the boats docked for the evening, Gentry invited us to their RV campsite, loaded with all the essential drinks, food and amenities. Stories were told and new friendships were made while Gentry's playlist, "Boat Mix" rocked the speakers. Lets just say it was an eclectic mix of rock, country and R&B with some funny surprises.

Impromptu "Guitar Pull"
We had caught wind of a jam session scheduled that evening at the KOA recreation hall at 6 p.m. At 6:30, Gentry pried himself away from the campsite to meet his talented group of back-up musicians who had already been jamming. As we entered the hall, we saw a crowd of 50 people (many senior-citizens) with astonished looks on their faces, as Gentry himself sat down with the group and picked up his guitar. The boys jammed for an hour, filling the hall with stripped-down sonic perfection, playing their hits and impromptu songs that related to each and every person in the room.

The following day, Gentry set out to tackle a demon. "One thing I've never done is actually get up on a wakeboard," he said. Perhaps it was Alexa's shred session that inspired him to strap on the boots, and ultimately pop up for the first time. "It was really impressive for his first time," Alexa said. "He was cruising all over and riding smooth. Unfortunately, Troy experienced a classic front edge-catch to faceplant, but that just comes with the territory. At least Goofy got it on film."

Greeninger & Gentry
Goofy, a.k.a. Jeff Greeninger, is Montgomery Gentry's production manager and all-around right hand man. He was also shredding on his Noserider from Liquid Force and has really enjoyed this new activity for the boys on the road. "We get to travel to so many great spots," Greeninger said. "So it's great to have a killer boat to drop in places like this during our down time."

Greeninger and Gentry's friend Rafael were all over the place with their GoPro's, Contours, and SLR video cameras. Look for some great footage to be integrated with their productions online and possibly in a music video someday.

After all was said and done in Orlando, Gentry casually offered us a once-in-a-lifetime experience. "You guys should come down to West Palm this weekend and be our guests for the show." This show would be the closing act of a huge all-day country music festival called the 2012 Rib Round Up at the Cruzan Amphitheater. Ironically, Jake Owen would play before Montgomery Gentry. With Owen also being a part of the Malibu family, we entertained the invite with great enthusiasm.

Backstage, Gentry and Greeninger were incredibly accommodating and gave us an inside look at their whole operation, which is very professional and fun. When it was time for Montgomery Gentry to come on, Gentry gestured for us to walk with him and Montgomery from backstage. As we crossed the threshold behind the set, the lighting technician slammed the levers down and the amphitheater went pitch black, igniting the crowd into a roar. The atmosphere was electric -- a true rockstar moment.

Montgomery Gentry

Even on his way to the mic, Gentry took time to make sure we had a spot to stand on the side of the stage, which provided an incredible view of the whole production. The duo opened with their upcoming radio single, "So Called Life" and the set list kept building with their top hits and involved a deep connection to the audience. Themes of patriotism, family life, the working man, small towns and good times filled the air.

Jake Owen
To our surprise, Jake Owen was soon chilling right next to us -- barefoot, wearing blue jeans with Budweiser in hand, after he had just slayed the stage himself. He saw my Malibu shirt and approached us. "How's Grubb doin?" he said. Owen is another incredibly friendly character and noticed our red Solo cups were empty, so he invited us to his RV for a quick refill. Thankfully, we got back on stage just in time for "Roll With Me" and a powerful encore that left Gentry hollering yells of excitement all the way back the bus.

As the tens of thousands of fans headed for the exits, we had a chance to say goodbye to Gentry, who was already kicking back on the couch in the bus wearing boardshorts and sandals, Jim Beam and Coke in hand. "Y'all drive safe, OK? Let's do this again sometime," he said. This entire experience was both an honor and very inspiring in many ways. We are glad to have these gentlemen as a part of the Malibu Boats family. I'm sure this won't be the last time our world's collide, and we can't wait until it happens again.

Our Favorite Montgomery Gentry Tracks:
"Roll With Me"
"My Town"
"Back When I Knew It All"
"Where I Come From"
"Ain't No Law Against That"
"Work Hard, Play Harder"

Montgomery Gentry's newest album, "Rebels On The Run" is in stores now, or download on iTunes

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