TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City’s Rare Bird Brewpub has long stood out as one of singer-songwriter Monte Pride’s favorite places to play.
“I love it,” raved the Lansing-based indie-folk artist, who has cultivated “a little audience” among relatives and fans in northern Michigan. “It’s a nice, big open room.”
If not for COVID-19, a Traverse City stop certainly would have been part of Pride’s promotional tour for his new album, “Even in Absence,” which officially gets released on Friday (Aug. 21).
Instead, the pandemic has “brought everything to a standstill,” he conceded. Except for an Aug. 27 live-stream concert on his Facebook page, Pride doesn’t plan to perform again until 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns.
“I miss performing a lot, but have appreciated the downtime to focus on writing for the next album and promoting this one,” he said.
“It’s been strange. There isn’t a guide to releasing an album during a pandemic, but even with everything going on and all of the deeply rooted issues we’re facing, I’m looking forward to getting the new music out to hopefully bring some solace to listeners.”
Pride, 24, spent more than a year on “Even in Absence,” which was recorded at Ann Arbor’s Big Sky Recording, Grand Haven’s Third Coast Recording and Kalamazoo’s La Luna Recording & Sound. He views the collection as antidote to ease the pain of a pandemic that’s isolated people, often from the ones they love.
“It’s just reminders that experiences and relationships with other people and people’s lives, and impacts that people make, persist and are present with you even in their absence (especially) in times like these when we’re away from people,” Pride said.
The follow-up to his 2016 debut, “Hawthorne Morning Sound,” features a host of guest musicians with whom Michigan audiences are familiar.
“I was incredibly lucky to have a lot of amazing friends and artists contribute to the songs,” he said.
“Sam Cooper, Brandon & Bethany Foote (Gifts or Creatures), Drew Howard, Benjy Joung, Mark Lavengood, Max Lockwood (May Erlewine, Big Dudee Roo), Laurel Premo (Red Tail Ring) and Lily Talmers all had a hand in bringing the songs to life. … All these people did such an amazing job.”
Pride said the “healing songs” were “inspired by ’60s and contemporary folk music,” and represent real growth from the tracks on his 2016 debut.
“I’ve worked on honing my songwriting craft, telling stories and sharing stream-of-consciousness abstraction and expanding song arrangements with ‘Even in Absence,’ ” he said.
Pride didn’t always know he was destined to be a songwriter and musician.
But with all of the inspiring music he surrounded himself while growing up in Okemos and as a student at Michigan State University, the end result was impossible to escape.
Going to see regional bands such as Steppin’ In It and Mystic Shake in their heyday and soaking up the music of Lyle Lovett, Johnny Cash, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Nick Drake, John Prine, Paul Simon, Gillian Welch, The Tallest Man on Earth, May Erlewine and Red Tail Ring, Pride felt compelled to create the kind of music that Michigan audiences have since come to embrace.
“The Michigan music scene is a great place and everyone is so supportive of each other,” he said.
Get more information about Pride and his new album online at montepridemusic.com.