By SHANNON HEUPEL, Montgomery announcer
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Look up in the sky. Is it a bird? Is it an airplane? Is it a… beard?
You might not know it, but country music star Jamey Johnson and his unmistakable mustaches spent a few days here and there and above Montgomery during the pandemic.
After all, this has been Johnson’s hometown since he was three years old. The Grammy-nominated artist, who was born in Enterprise and lived in Troy at an early age, began singing at Calvary Baptist Church in Montgomery. He learned a lot about music from his father, a French horn player, and school instructors Floyd Jr. and Jeff Davis. Life in Alabama’s capital also made him want to serve in the Marine Corps Reserves, which he did from 1994 to 2002. He even wears a piece of Montgomery to all of his concerts – a guitar covered with signature called “Old Maple” which he obtained. in 1995 from Bailey Brothers.
For the past year and a half, Montgomery is also where he did some of his flight training to become a commercial pilot.
“So during the pandemic, I went to Montgomery a few times, especially when I was there doing checks (FAA exams),” Johnson said. “I did all my checkrides there. And while I’m in town, I’ll be visiting people and things like that.
Johnson will be much more down-to-earth on Sunday at Montgomery’s Riverwalk Stadium, where he and several musician friends are gathering for Johnson’s annual Homecoming concert. This is a fundraiser for the Nikki Mitchell Foundation, which helps families facing a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Doors open at 5 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at jameyjohnson.com. Standing tickets at court level only are $50 and bowl seating is $35.
THE LIFE OF A TOURING MUSICIAN
People often ask Johnson when his next album will be released. Her last – “Living For a Song” was in 2012. But recording just isn’t where her heart has been.
“No, I have nothing in preparation. I’m not doing anything,” Johnson said. “You know, right now I’m a touring musician. That’s what I do. Yes, that’s what I appreciate. »
It’s not an easy life. Touring, and everything associated with it, came to a halt last year during the pandemic. This year has been better for Johnson, who said he and his group have been busy. Some other artists are not so lucky.
“People who want to go on tour always find that’s not even possible,” Johnson said. “Sometimes because we now have a shortage of bus drivers and truck drivers, to go along with the pandemic concerns that are already there. We want to make safe shows for our listeners, but at the same time, we also have a band and a crew that we’re trying to protect. To ensure their safety, it is necessary in particular to make them earn money. When you put them in the house and they don’t make money, it doesn’t protect them. It keeps them broke.
He said there must be a “middle ground” with safety precautions. He said they had that kind of balance in September when he performed during Farm Aid. Johnson said the concert was a hit with the public and was “as safe as it gets”.
He hopes to strike that kind of balance at Sunday’s Homecoming concert.
“You know, the thing that’s there this year that wasn’t there last year is this vaccination,” Johnson said. “It’s not a panacea. It is not a 100% secure protocol. But it is something. It’s something that wasn’t there last year and is there this year. »
So why did Johnson become a pilot during the pandemic? Honestly, he thought it would be cool to be able to fly himself whenever he wanted. Johnson has already been flying on tour for nearly six years, studying and training with others, and logged just over 500 hours.
“I spent my free time while studying COVID,” Johnson said. “I am a private pilot. A multi-engine private pilot. I got my instrument ratings on single engine and multi engine. I’m working on getting my publicity. At the moment, I have already passed the written test. I have to find some time to go do this check-ride. I will get my business license.
So no, that bearded man you might spot flying over Montgomery again isn’t Santa Claus on a morning jaunt.
So what’s Johnson going to do when he gets his business license?
“I can fly away for vacations and whatever I want to do. There’s always somewhere to go,” Johnson said. “I keep dreaming about loading up fishing gear and getting on a plane to Montana or Alaska or somewhere. Landing on a river or going fly fishing or that sort of thing. Who knows? Maybe this dream will come true too.