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King N’ Trio has entertained audiences from Chicago to Los Angeles

As bass player in the Colorado-based folk group The King n’ Trio, H. Merritt Kinsey ’71 has helped raise $150,000 for nonprofit organizations, recorded four CDs, and performed for crowds of up to 25,000 people.

The group is comprised of four Grand Junction (Colo.) Rotary Club members who play and sing Kingston Trio songs and other classic folk music. It has entertained audiences – often at Rotary conferences – at gigs in Chicago, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Nevada, Wisconsin, and elsewhere.

Kinsey, CEO and president of Western Slope Industries, a manufacturer of folding carton equipment and customized paper-converting machines, joined the group in 2002, the year after its founding, when the original bass player bowed out.

“We have a lot of fun doing it,” he says. “We don’t have to worry about making a profit.”

That’s because the group donates all proceeds from its concerts and CD sales to nonprofits such as the Rotary Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, Avalon Theatre, and the Mesa County Library, as well as to relief for hurricane victims. The trio also launched the Old Music for Young Ears program, visiting elementary schools to perform and teach about folk music. The group played free concerts and donated a musical instrument to each school – a total of three gongs, one set of temple blocks, and 16 sets of conga drums.

“You have to give something back to the community,” says Kinsey, an alumni admissions representative for Lafayette and past intern and extern host. “You have to make time for it.”

He has been making music since he was able to lift his first instrument of choice, a tuba, back in elementary school. He learned how to play bass at age 12 and in high school, he performed professionally at various gigs in Connecticut.

Despite his love of music, Kinsey decided to focus on economics when he attended Lafayette. Still, he managed to squeeze in work at the student radio station, perform in student musical ensembles, and play with some bands on the side. He came away impressed by both his professors and the quality of his fellow students.

After graduating, Kinsey received an MBA from the University of Michigan in 1973. His musical career faded into the background as he focused on the business world and his growing family. It would be almost 30 years before he picked up his bass with The King N’ Trio.

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