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Environmental Sustainability major Monte Pride, 21, is graduating from MSU in May. Before he gets his diploma, he gets to cross off an item off his bucket list: the Okemos native grew up attending Ten Pound Fiddle concerts, and this week he’s performing in one -- something he calls a dream come true.
On Thursday, March 29, Ten Pound Fiddle presents Michigan Songwriters II: Roger Brown, Monte Pride and Sam Corbin at Lansing’s Robin Theatre.
“It’s really well known and it’s a really esteemed concert series,” Pride said. “They book really talented acts, and it’s incredibly humbling to be a part of a show. It’s really special. It’s always been kind of on my performance music bucket list to play a show at the Ten Pound Fiddle.”
Pride began performing music at a talent show as a high school senior. The following summer, he landed his first gig at the Old Town General Store. In 2014 and 2015, the college student released two EPs. During his junior and senior year of college, Pride really buckled down and began booking more concerts.
“I just made connections,” Pride said, “I started opening shows at Mac’s Bar a lot. I played there often, and kind of cut my teeth there.”
The finger-picking guitarist has also played at Abrams Planetarium, and the East Lansing Farmers Market. In 2016, Pride released his first full-length album, Hawthorne Morning Sound, to a sold-out crowd at Robin Theatre.
Pride spoke about his return to the venue, and the atmosphere of the “Songwriters” show. “Instead of everyone doing their own set, it’s basically combined. You all sit on stage at once, and you can go back and forth,” Pride said. “Everyone shares a song and the story behind it. It gives you a chance to get to know the other artists, and gives you a chance to communicate on stage. It also allows for audience interaction too, every now and then.”
“You don’t necessarily play together, but it’s a really intimate style. You get to hear stories behind the songs that you wouldn’t normally get to at other shows.”
Many of the stories behind Pride’s music are influenced by the singer-songwriters of the 60s and 70s. When he was growing up, his family listened to Lyle Lovett, and Townes Van Zandt.
Though the student studies sustainability at MSU, Pride has yet to write a song inspired by his curriculum.
“I haven’t really written any protest songs, or songs about our environment or the issues that we’re facing,” Pride said, “but it’s definitely something that’s been in my mind for the past few years.”
“Just thinking how influential that music was in the 60s and 70s and how valuable those songs can be to a generation or to your community, I’ve been trying to come up with things, but I think I’m finally getting to the point where some of those ideas they might start coming out.”
While the twenty-one-year old spins songs that are well before his time, like those of Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, and Jackson Browne, he also appreciates the current music scene in our state.
“There’s so much inspiration in Michigan too,” Pride said. “I’m a big fan of Gifts or Creatures. Seth Bernard & May Erlewine. All the people in the Earthwork Collective are doing great things musically, environmentally, socially, and building community in general.”
Community and connecting with people is one of Pride’s favorite things about performing music. He enjoys having the opportunity to convey feelings, emotions and lyrics to the audience in an intimate setting. Giving life to the songs that have been in his head is always a freeing feeling. Music has been an outlet of self-expression, but also a means of meeting friends too.
Some of Pride’s earliest gigs included shows played at The Coffeehouse at All Saints Episcopal Church in East Lansing. He has also performed as part of a service at The Peoples Church.
“That was a really huge part of me learning how to perform and how to share songs, how to connect with an audience. It created a lot of lasting friendships,” Pride said. “The community in East Lansing, since I started, it’s been really welcoming. The people that had been doing it for years when I started, were willing to lend a hand and give me advice how to develop as a singer and a songwriter.”
Tickets for Ten Pound Fiddle presents Michigan Songwriters II on Thursday, March 29.
The Robin Theater is located at 1105 Washington Ave., in Lansing.
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