Canadian Singer-Guitarist Rob Lutes Brings Roots Music to the Pump House

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Thursday, November 15, 2018, 8:34 am
Christopher A. Wardell

Growing up the youngest of six kids, Canadian singer-songwriter Rob Lutes discovered he had a love of music at an early age.

The guitarist grew up listening to the music of his older siblings and was given his first guitar by one of his sisters.

Lutes will perform at the Orchard Street Pump House November 17th at 7:00 p.m.

“I listened to music all the time as a kid and sang along with all the albums in the family collection,” Lutes said. My sister Kathy had an old beat up acoustic in her closet. I found it at about the age of 12, fixed it up myself and made a nut for it and a bridge and rendered it playable. Once I could figure out a couple chords on it, I was done. I've been in love with playing guitar ever since. I had buddies into guitar and we formed a band in high school and performed shows for the school. That was it.”

With the guitar at his side, Lutes set out on a career that has so far yielded seven albums that merge the best of roots music. Blues, folk, country and Americana, the musician works in every genre.

Lutes is currently riding high on the success of his most recent album, Walk in The Dark, which was recorded over three days during the winter of 2017 in his native Montreal. The album has earned Lutes two Maple Blues Award nominations for Best Acoustic Act and Male Vocalist of the Year.

As excited as he is for the accolades, he realizes as a musician that he needs to keep the momentum going. Winning the awards would be nice, but it doesn’t define who he is as an artist, according to Lutes.

“I hope to win but just being nominated, as they say, has been good and has opened some doors,” Lutes said. “I’m always moving forward and trying to find more and learn more about performing and writing.”

As a songwriter, Lutes uses a sly sense of humor to tackle some of the world’s harder lessons in life. Gripping and honest, Lutes finds the best in everyone, and tries to leave the doom and gloom to other musicians.

“I work hard on writing my songs, and I try to find a little light in the darkness.” Lutes said.

Lutes has been writing new songs for his eighth album in between shows on the road, which happens to be the place where Lutes is most comfortable.

“I love the road and I love performing live,” Lutes said. “Meeting people and seeing new places. I find the hardest part of it all is being away from my family but I have tried to strike a balance. The past six months or so have been hard as I've been very busy and travelling a lot. I need to balance those periods with time in Montreal to live my life there. Stay connected to friends and to work on new material.”

According to Pump House Concerts promoter Dudley “Smitty” Smith, bringing Lutes back for a return engagement in East Lansing has been a long time in the making.

“Many years ago, when Pump House Concerts was still young, we had many booking requests from a Canadian singer-songwriter that we knew nothing about,” Smith said. “Luckily, we took a chance and booked Rob. He gave our audience a great show with his smoky vocals, great guitar playing, and intriguing songwriting. Since then, Rob has won quite a few awards as the world recognizes his talents. We've been trying for a few years to arrange a return visit, and are very excited to have him back. He’s one of our favorites.”

Lutes is looking forward to the Pump House show, where he’ll perform a mix of older songs and songs that are still in the embryonic stage.

“I still do like playing the tunes on Walk in the Dark live, but I am ready to bring new ones along,” Lutes said. “People can expect some stories about the songs, some fingerstyle guitar and soulful vocals with a couple of laughs along the way. I like to engage with the audience and have fun when I perform. I hope audiences do too.”

There is a suggested donation of $20 with all money going to the artist. The Orchard Street Pump House is located at 368 Orchard Street.

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