By Janet Bresenham, Freedom New Mexico
Christian recording artists Monk and Neagle have toured all across the country with such well-known musicians as Mercy Me and Bebo Norman.
Now they’ve decided to play a little closer to home to kick off their first solo tour.
Tonight, the singer-songwriters and longtime friends are bringing their guitars and their acoustic sound to Clovis for a concert at the Java Loft, which starts at 9 p.m.
Though the call of Nashville has grown strong at times, home for Trent Monk and Michael Neagle is still the West Texas city of Amarillo.
“It’s a great place to grow up,” said Monk, 32, who has known Neagle, 31, for more than 12 years and played together as a band for almost five years. “Five years ago, we were close to moving to Nashville for the music but we made a conscious decision to stay here for now.”
Unlike some musicians whose entourage grows with their fame, Monk and Neagle still try to maintain a close connection with their fans. That simplicity even extends to planning their tour.
Joey Porter of Clovis, who handles bookings for music at the Java Loft, said he was surprised that Monk and Neagle, whose original songs and CDs are played regularly on contemporary Christian radio stations, wanted to play a smaller venue.
“They actually called us and said they had talked to some people about trying to play in New Mexico and a couple people recommended this as a venue,” Porter said. “I was very surprised because they’re so well-known in Christian music.”
Monk and Neagle’s first radio hit song was “Dancing With The Angels.” Their most recent song getting radio play is “The 21st Time,” which is also the name of their new album. The song was inspired by Monk’s wife, Micah, and her desire to show compassion by helping others in need, he said.
“We love sharing our hearts through our music and sharing about the different things God is doing in our lives,” Monk said. “Our songs deal with real life, with the loss of loved ones, the dry periods where you don’t feel as close to God and also the times of joy.”
“These stories, these songs were born in the everyday, from the conviction that comes out of personal experience, faith in the middle of doubt, and our desire to unbox the gospel, to show how relevant it is to where we all live,” Neagle wrote on their Web site.
Playing coffeehouses and other venues in addition to churches gives them a wider audience that both enjoy, Monk said.
“I love that the people get drawn into the music and hear the message along with it and the seeds are planted,” he said.
“We’re really excited about playing Clovis for the first time,” Monk said. “This is what we wanted to do right now. We’ve been all over and we felt like we’ve sort of neglected our home area.”
Porter said he was impressed after he spoke with Monk and Neagle.
“After talking to them and seeing the kind of atmosphere they wanted to play, this seemed like a good deal,” Porter said. “They seem like really great guys.”
Tonight’s concert will be a “Name your own price” event, with audience members paying for tickets at the door with whatever they are able to give, and in return, receiving a copy of Monk and Neagle’s “Acoustic Set, Volume I” CD of earlier songs with their tickets.
Porter said the Java Loft will close its doors at 8:30 p.m. and then re-open at 8:45 p.m. for people with tickets to the concert inside the Master’s Center at 21st and Prince streets. Seating will be limited to about 200, he said.