Legendary Naptown guitarist Wes Montgomery will be honored Sunday, March 1 with a concert and awards presentation at Chief Joseph’s. A Wes Montgomery Tribute Award, saluting those who continue to carry Montgomery’s style, will be awarded to Steve Weakley, and his band, including well-known Indianapolis artists pianist Kevin Anker, drummer Richard “Sleepy” Floyd, and saxman Rob Dixon.
Besides Chef Joseph, at 115 E. Ohio St., sponsors include Stuart Mortuary, Indiana Black Expo Chapter of IBE. Inc, and Jazz-City Internet radio.
Known for his creative style of performance and musical genius, Montgomery left America with a songbook of memories following his sudden death to a stroke at his Indianapolis home on June 15, 1968.
Jazz lovers often recount the tale of how the famous Julian “Cannonball” Adderley “discovered” Wes Montgomery playing at the Missile Room, and quickly ran to phone his record label, Riverside Records, to tell them about this remarkable Naptown guitarist.
Montgomery is also famed for playing with his thumb, rather than a pick, a technique he perfected after his wife complained that his guitar was too loud. Today, guitarists still say Montgomery is their greatest musical influence.
Pat Metheny has said he learned to play by listening to Montgomery’s performance of “Smokin’ at the Half Note” and Joe Pass has said that he considers the top three guitarists of all time to be Montgomery, Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt.
Besides the music of Wes Montgomery, his fellow Indiana Avenue musician, the legendary organist Melvin Rhyne, will be recognized. For more information about Jazz-City radio, see: jazz-city.com/radio. For tickets to the March 1 event, visit this link: eventbrite.com.
Ralph Adams is a veteran broadcaster, with years of experience at stations including 88.7 WICR-FM and Jazz-City Radio.