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This Saturday, the Monte Pride Trio will have their debut performance at the Robin Theatre, and they are bringing a lot of local flavor into their music. The namesake of the show, Monte Pride, is a folk singer-songwriter and fingerstyle guitarist born and based in Lansing. Currently, he is a senior at Michigan State University, with double majors in Environmental Studies and Sustainability, and Sustainable Parks, Recreation and Tourism. When he’s not working on school or music, he’s often working at the Old Town General Store. While this weekend will be his first time performing in the trio, it is far from Pride’s first personal performance.
“I began playing guitar about six years ago, and have been singing since I was [in] elementary school in Okemos choirs,” Pride said.
He started doing live performances his senior year of high school at venues like the Robin Theatre, the Loft, Mac’s Bar, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum and the Old Town General Store. He’s performed at a variety of music festivals and events throughout Michigan.
“I’ve also played local and regional festivals including Farmfest, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, Pumpstock, Capital City Film Festival, Stoopfest, EastXEast Lansing and Gypsy Goddess Festival.”
This list of performances and venues shows that, despite his age, he has the experience. Monte Pride focuses both his stage presence and his music on conveying a form of truth.
“I’ve never been worried about creating an ‘image’ because what you get on stage and in recorded music is ‘Monte Pride,’ through and through,” Pride said. “I try my best to share deep experiences and emotion in song. Some folks think my music is ‘sad,’ but I feel that ‘healing’ is a much better way to describe what I sing about.”
Pride said his greatest achievement to date has been the release of his album Hawthorne Morning Sound. Since then, he was also the event organizer for the first annual Songs for Sustainability Festival, the donations of which benefited Music is the Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to funding music in small schools.
“I recorded in Ann Arbor with engineer and producer Elan Dantus,” the singer said. “With its release met with a sold out show at the Robin Theatre in Lansing on Nov.18, 2016, exactly a year before (to the day) of the upcoming performance next weekend.”
Many of Pride’s sources of inspiration include Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake. So, it is no surprise — with Drake’s album Five Leaves Left which featured a cellist — that Pride found cellist Benjy Joung to join him.
“I immediately felt connected with him and his playing. It’s very special, musically, when you can predict what one another are going to do,” Pride said. “It has allowed for beautiful, seamless collaboration.”
The third member of the trio is trumpeter Evan Taylor. Pride’s meeting with Taylor was just as magical.
“I met Evan in the past year, when he reached out to me to ask about performing, as he was interested in my music,” he said. “We practiced for the first time a few months back and also clicked; it was seamless as well.”
The trio is excited to get to come to and perform at the Robin Theatre this coming weekend. Even though this will not be Pride’s first time there, he is as grateful as ever to be among the artists who have had the honor of performing there. As a result, they are doing everything they can to make this weekend’s show memorable, both for longtime fans of Monte Pride and new listeners, too.
“The show will feature older tunes from my album Hawthorne Morning Sound, songs with new instrumentation and quite a few brand-new tunes that have yet to be performed live,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to returning to the theatre, too.”
After this performance, Pride plans on taking a break until the new year. Then, he has a lot of writing to catch up as well as his first national bus tour.
“I’ve already booked a busy schedule through March, with exciting performances to be announced in December,” Pride said. “I’m looking forward to getting back to writing, and plan to begin the first steps in recording another full-length album. I’m also planning to embark on my first national tour in 2018, and will be working hard to take my music and its message to communities I’ve yet to visit.”
He will be delivering many of these messages at his performance this coming weekend at the Robin Theatre. Despite his youthful appearance and energy, his rich tenor voice and his adept fingerpicking belie years of experience at this debut performance.
Monte Pride Trio Saturday, Nov. 18 7-9 p.m. $10 in advance; $15 Day of The robin Theatre 1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing Brownpapertickets.com