Area residents, especially moms, have the opportunity to spend Mother’s Day evening enjoying a beautiful gift of music from a Story County-born singer/songwriter.
Carol Montag, a folk singer specializing in iconic folk and original music, will perform at Nevada’s Talent Factory at 7 p.m. on May 12. Tickets are $15 each.
Born and raised in Ames and a proud member of the Ames High Class of ‘72, Montag (originally Carol Healey) said coming to Nevada reminds her of her days in 4-H. “I do recall going to a few county fairs there when I was a member of the Grant Topperettes. I learned how to sew, bake delicious goodies, make a bed, scramble eggs, refinish furniture and more,” she said.
Last summer, Montag came to the Talent Factory as part of the 50th anniversary “Summer of Love” concert. “I had a fantastic time performing songs from the 1960s.” She’s excited to return to the venue and perform close to her roots again.
“So many of my songs are about growing up in Ames. ‘Don’t Go Back,’ a song off my second album, is all about Ames — Central Junior High, Carr’s Pool, King’s Food Host… Most people will be able to relate to my experience,” she said.
Montag learned to play on her sister’s guitar, mostly by ear, and then by learning other people’s music. Chord by chord, she would build songs, she said. She played in a few acoustic bands while in college, but she majored in graphic design and worked as a graphic designer for Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids for awhile. Her first few paid gigs were at a local Mexican restaurant in Cedar Rapids. That was followed by performances at colleges, coffeehouses, house concerts, churches, music festivals and live radio shows. She has now recorded four solo albums, been commissioned by Ballet Iowa, been invited to perform at the 2010 World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony and has opened or shared a stage with greats like Michael Johnson, Greg Brown, Cliff Eberhardt, John Gorka, Arlo Guthrie, Larry Groce, John Stewart and Three Dog Night, to name a few.
Her style of music, she said, is “singer/songwriter, Americana, traditional tunes and songs from the Great American Songbook. I find the music produced by singer/songwriters has much more depth and interest, especially when it comes to lyrics,” she said. The artist she feels she most sounds like, she said, would be the late Eva Cassidy. “She was able to perform a mix of genres and was a great interpreter of songs.”
The artist who has most influenced her, Montag said, is Joni Mitchell. “I have always been amazed by her songwriting process and innovations when it came to guitar tunings. Once you learn the tunings, her songs are relatively easy to play.”
As for performing once again in the historic theater in Nevada, Montag said it’s just the right sized place to perform and she loves that the building has a history in the community. “I think Larry and his wife, Cindy (the Sloans, owners of the theater) are doing a great service in the community to bring live music in a variety of genres to Nevada. Hopefully, Nevada realizes what they have in their midst and comes out to the shows to support the venue and performing artists.”
Montag expects her Mother’s Day concert to be fun. “I am going to be honoring many different female singers and songwriters. It’s going to be about ‘us gals,’” she said, but added, “guys are more than welcome, too.” Montag hopes this concert will be a chance for everyone to treat the women in their lives and themselves to something special. “Think Melanie, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Carole King…”
Montag loves to perform and looks forward to meeting and greeting those who attend her upcoming concert after the show.
“I love being able to express the sentiment of a song. I love relating to the audience and making them feel like they have something in common with everyone else. I always try to put myself in the audience and imagine what they would like to hear and experience.”
Tickets for her concert are available at www.iowatalentfactory.com; or by calling 515-382-0085.
Some history about Carol Montag
Montag began singing and performing as a young girl in church, St. Paul’s Lutheran to be exact, on the corner of 15th and Wilson in Ames. She was the daughter of Jean and Marian Healey. “I was baptized, confirmed and married at that church and have many fond memories as church attendance was a major part of our lives,” she said. “When I was young, our pastor’s, Pastor Fischer, wife directed the children’s choir and she played the cello as well. It was amazing. Back then, we children wore white choir robes with big, black bows. We always sang for Easter sunrise service and Christmas Eve. We were given juice and cinnamon rolls on Easter morning before we sang and someone always threw up due to nerves.”
Montag said she learned to love the hymns from the old hymnals. Even the liturgy was intriguing to her.
She took piano lessons from May Simpson in Ames and said, “I have to give her most of the credit for teaching me music basics, my chords and scales and music theory. I remember walking from Central Junior High down Sixth Street, past the bandshell to my piano lessons at her house after school.” And if she had money, she said, “I would stop at the Fareway grocery store bakery and get a cream-filled, powdered donut on my way.” The house, she recalled was at the corner of Sixth and Crawford. “I loved playing the piano and having recitals at her house.”
When she became a student at Central Jr. High in Ames, she learned to play the flute in band. She continued in band with Homer Gartz in the seventh grade, she recalled, and with Milton Trexel in the eighth and ninth grades. But, as a member of the cheer squad, which she also loved, it became too difficult to cheer for football games and then run under the bleachers just before half time to change into her band uniform. So, before her senior year, she gave up band. She continued in choir though, and when she was a senior, from money she’d saved up working as a checker at Hy-Vee, she could afford her first guitar, a Yamaha 12-string she purchased from Eschbach’s Music House on Main Street.
Today, she said, “I have way too many guitars!”