More Water Than Landed Gentry

By Ann Dermody

They're one of country music's most recognizable duos, but just like the rest of us, when the weekend arrives, they want to go boating.

Photo of Eddie Montgomery and Troy GentryTroy Gentry, of country duo Montgomery Gentry, works his best mean and moody rockstar look. (Photo: Kristin Barlowe)

Well, actually, that's not strictly true. Given the nature of their business, "weekends" for Montgomery Gentry are Monday to Wednesday, and only the Gentry half of the twosome wants to go boating — but more about this later.

After 15 years, several million albums sold, multiple American Country Music and Country Music Association awards, and membership in the Grand Old Opry and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, Montgomery Gentry — the singers Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry — are still drawing door-busting crowds to their concerts and releasing albums that stay true to the Kentucky country-music movement they helped define. But having paid their dues to establish a secure foothold in the music world, the hard work is finally beginning to lean a bit toward a little more free time, and that suits Troy Gentry just fine.

When we talk, he's at a high-school basketball tournament with his daughter — on a Friday, a day usually never free for him in those hectic times of endless touring and promoting. "Now we work three or four days a week, and then we're home for three or four days a week," he says. "We've finally gotten to a nice balance where we do between 85 and 95 dates a year touring across the country, which is great." As well as more home time with the family (he has two daughters, one 21 years old, the other 12), this also allows him time to get back to his other great love — boating.

Photo of Troy Gentry and his wife-and daughterTroy Gentry in a more relaxed setting, gets ready to wakeboard with his wife and daughter.

Gentry says he was something of a latecomer to owning a boat, but the desire was always percolating close to the surface. "We'd go fishing on boats when I was a kid, but I didn't really get into the sporting aspect of it until late high school, on Herrington Lake in Kentucky," he says. "When I got to college, I was in the waterski club at school for a semester, but I was so busy playing music, it didn't really pan out. When my wife and I first got married, we bought a pontoon boat to hang out on, and we'd go out on boats with friends, and things like that, from time to time," he recalls. But as Montgomery Gentry took off, they sold the pontoon boat, as there wasn't much time for idle weekends, even when they happened on Mondays. Until a few years ago, that is. "We were touring and chatting out in California one day, talking about ocean surfing, and someone overheard me and thought I was talking about wakesurfing," he says. "I didn't know anything about that, but I thought it sounded great. By the time I got back to Tennessee, I'd already been online and bought a couple of boards." Now all he needed was a boat. Back out on the road, he did his research between gigs, and he soon found an online ad for a 2011 Malibu Wakesetter in North Carolina. "I had a friend who had an uncle who lived close to the guy who was selling it, and he went over and checked it out for me. When I got back home, I'd a boat sitting in the driveway." He hasn't looked back since.

"We started getting back out as a family, and then my little girl started really getting into it, and my friend and his daughters came down, and it was the first time we'd found an event that everybody enjoyed doing. It was amazing. We were thinking, 'I can't believe we waited this long to get a boat!' It's turned out to be this great family recreation. We've all learned to wakesurf, and a couple of the kids have tried wakeboarding. My knees are a little too old for it these days. I don't like hitting the water that hard anymore."

Doing things together as a family has become doubly important to the Gentrys recently. Troy's wife, Angie, successfully underwent treatment for breast cancer earlier this year, inspiring a cheeky breastcancer awareness campaign called Check Your Headlights that was backed by the duo and the first single, "Headlights" from their latest album, "Folks Like Us." "She's doing really well, and the prognosis from the doctors is great," he says.

Here To Stay

Boating is definitely here to stay in the Gentry household, and that 2011 Wakesetter has since been traded in for a brand-new 2015 model. "It's nice because usually I get home on Sunday nights or early Monday mornings, so my weekend starts then. That's perfect for me because nobody else is out on the lake." That lake is Percy Priest, a 42-mile-long waterway 10 miles east of Nashville. "We also have friends on Center Hill Lake, which is another really nice one near us," he says.

Photo of Troy Gentry wakesurfing behind his boatGentry's whole family loves to wakesurf behind their 2015 Malibu.

Given the close working relationship and friendship he shares with Eddie Montgomery, does the leather Stetson wearing half of the duo share his love for the water? "Funny you should ask" Troy laughs. "He doesn't swim and isn't too fond of the water. I did get him to sit in a boat for a photoshoot in Malibu out in California a couple of summers ago, and his only stipulation was that the boat had to be tied up to the dock at all times. He's been out on houseboats and bigger boats, but he's told me that the next time he gets down here, he'd like me to take him out on the water."

We don't get the impression that Troy Gentry is holding his breath. 

— Published: October/November 2015


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