Buddy Montgomery

I thought it would be great to bring vibraphonist / pianist Buddy Montgomery to The Cellar for a performance seeing as he was (and still is) the last of the living Montgomery Brothers. Buddy and his brothers Wes and Monk have a long association with Vancouver making it regular stop on their tours back in the 60’s. In fact part of The Montgomery Brothers In Canada was recorded at the old Cellar on Watson street.

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The negotiations with Buddy were quite easy and things went really well. He had some air mile points that he was going to use to get up here and we agreed on a fee that we were both comfortable with. He did however (and rightfully so) ask for a deposit of 1/2 the fee. This was new to me and at that time I don’t even think we had that money in our bank account not to mention the show was still months away. I can’t remember what I did but I got the money together and sent it to him. All was good! The show was booked for a weekend in late mid September 14th & 15th, 2001. Its pretty easy to figure out what happened. September 11th, 2001 happened. Naturally everything was up in the air and it was pretty obvious that Buddy wasn’t going to be making it to Vancouver that weekend. We tried settling on another date but it wasn’t so easy as Buddy was really uneasy about committing to anything with all that was going on in the world. I knew that a show would happen but I just didn’t know when. Being as GREEN as I was at the time I stupidly asked for my deposit back. This made Buddy very uncomfortable and he said that he would happily give me the deposit back minus the airfare which was odd because he said he was going to use air miles which meant his flight cost would be virtually nothing. I was quite upset but Buddy being one of my hereos I didn’t want to upset him but felt strongly that he was in the wrong. We exchanged words and things were quite unpleasant. I think one of Buddy’s quotes was “you young punks are always messin shit up” We agreed that we would talk later to figure something out. I was so upset I called Ross Taggart almost in tears literally saying “Ross, Buddy hates me, what should I do? He called me a punk” etc. etc.

Ross was supposed to be on that gig so he had talked to Buddy in advance of him showing up here so he agreed to call him and see if he could smooth things over. To be honest I can’t remember exactly how that went but I did end up just saying to Buddy that the only way were going to make this right is for you to come up here see our great little club, play with these great musicians and have some fun and it will be all water under the bridge.

We managed to rebook for late October. He booked his ticket to arrive in Vancouver the night before the show at around 11:00 pm. I went to YVR and his flight was right on time. 11:30 no Buddy, 11:45 no Buddy, midnight no Buddy! The airport was literally empty. I called him in California and low and behold he answered the phone. I said “Buddy, its Cory.” “Hey man what’s u?” he replied. “I’m at the airport waiting for you.” “I thought I was coming in the day before the show.” he said. “Look at your calendar Buddy, look at your calendar.” With that he said he would be on the next plane.

When he arrived the next day, he looked at me, I looked at him and I said “well Buddy I guess us young guys ain’t the only ones that mess shit up!” We hugged and that was the end of it. He played his ass off at he club that weekend and everyone had a great time!


One thought on “Buddy Montgomery

  1. Great story!
    I was a the Steel Pier in Atantic City in 1953; went to hear the Lionel Hampton band. Heard this great bass sound, but couldn’t find a bass player in the band…….finally figured out it was Monk Montgomery, playing the first electric bass I had ever seen or heard.

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