HOULTON, Maine — Ryan Tribou’s musical talent propelled him from performing and running audio and lights at Houlton Middle-High School into the fast-paced world of professional musicians.
Tribou, 24, a 2014 graduate of HMHS and Houlton native, works as an audio technician for a number of high-profile acts in the music industry.
“I played drums in high school and was involved in all the music activities I could possibly be in,” said Tribou, who lives in Lititz, Pennsylvania. “I did a lot with the tech side of things at the high school and volunteered at local churches. When it came time to figure out what I wanted to do, I knew I wanted to be involved in audio somehow.”
His career has been a whirlwind since he graduated in 2018 from the New England School of Communication at Husson University with a degree in live sound technology. After just six months of training, Tribou found himself at his first event, working as a sound technician at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California.
In 2019, he was asked to work on tour with both Queen and Adam Lambert from June through August, and then did sound with the Jonas Brothers from September to December that included stops in Mexico and Canada.
“It was a really busy year,” he said.
The new year looks to be equally busy for Tribou as he is going back out on the road with Queen to tour South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
As a sound technician, Tribou is part of a large crew that works to set up sound equipment on the stage, make sure the microphones are all placed properly and sometimes hand microphones to the performers during their sets.
Aside from the exhilaration of being backstage during the shows, Tribou has also worked with the acts on promotional events.
“There were a couple times I had to put mics on Roger [Taylor] or Brian [May] and Adam [Lambert] for interviews,” he said. “They are really cool people. It’s one of those things at the end of the day — they are just people like you and I. We like a lot of the same things. It just becomes normal.”
He said the beginning of each show is always a special moment, when the roar of tens of thousands of people provides an amazing wave of energy to not just the performers, but for the crew as well.
“It’s amazing to see people having such a good time at these shows,” he said. “That is what makes it all worth it.”
Tribou credited his former music instructors with helping to nudge him toward a career in music.
“Ryan was part of a highly motivated and dedicated group of students in the early/mid-2010s,” Jason Anderson said. “He was intrinsically motivated to understand more about audio and light design/engineering, and sought out opportunities to do just that. He worked very hard to understand all the capabilities of our equipment, and was always building his capacity to do more with what we had.”
Anderson was the choral instructor at Houlton High School at the time Tribou graduated, and is now employed as the visual and performing arts specialist for the Maine Department of Education.
“I’m proud to say he’s a success story and a poster boy for what students can achieve when they are encouraged to seek out opportunities to expand their horizons,” Anderson added. “Ryan produced a great deal for us as a student, and our concerts and shows were all the better for it. I would love to see him come back and share his story with others to show them that they too can achieve great success through hard work and perseverance.”
Joe Fagnant, RSU 29’s former band director who is now the director of the Houlton/Hodgdon Adult/Community Education Center, also recalled Tribou fondly.
“Ryan was a driven student,” Fagnant said. “He was dedicated, focused, and truly a major part of the entire music program. In high school he began to help with sound and lights in the auditorium and excelled in the technical side of music. He also would create videos of our performances. We really relied on Ryan many times to do sound and lighting for shows and events. It was a pleasure working with him, and I am thrilled he found his passion in the arts.”