Kristen Hays

Cal Poly sophomore Chase McBride’s transition from Montana native to California musician seemed effortless as he serenaded his audience with an acoustic guitar and sultry voice.

The upcoming musician performed barefoot, perched on his stool in the corner of the second floor of the Robert E. Kennedy Library Wednesday afternoon to promote this week’s What’s New Tour. The tour highlights the vast changes that have been made throughout campus, ASI Program Coordinator Michelle Curro said.

McBride’s mellow folk-rock style similar to Jack Johnson’s attracted a crowd of about 40 students. Most women gazed at the 20-year-old as a welcome distraction from studying during McBride’s renditions of James Taylor and Dispatch along with original music. Others continued to study and subtly tapped their pencils to McBride’s upbeat rhythm.

McBride lived in Montana for 18 years and has nine years of music experience. He decided to go solo after arriving in California where he expanded his music tastes by listening to more reggae, he said. His move also changed his once previous melodramatic tone to a lighter feel, he added.

“I got my start playing music with many bands back in Montana, but when I moved down here, I started playing solo acoustic songs I had written for friends in the dorm (Trinity Hall),” McBride said. “People were digging it.”

McBride caught his break when he asked the local band Still Time to listen to his recordings he made using his laptop.

“They were stoked on the recordings and let me open for them at Downtown Brew the following weekend without hearing me play live; it was insane!” McBride said. “It was an eye-opening experience because I havenít really had a chance to perform down here.”

He said Brett Dennen, Trevor Hall, Bob Marley, John Lennon and Mungo Jerry have influenced his style.

The performance in the library opens new territories and may begin a weekly open microphone night or something similar, said Ana Gold, associate dean of the library.

“Hopefully this will begin a partnership with the music department and the students so we can do more performances here,” Gold said.

The library will add built-in sound equipment on the second floor that will invite presentations and a more diverse study experience, said Dale Kohler, director of library information technology.

“The music creates a nice atmosphere and brings people in,” said Austin Mello, who plays bass on McBride’s EP.

McBride was signed by local recording company When it Hits Records and is working on his debut EP “A Light Through the Window,” which he hopes will be done by late fall.

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