Show sponsored by The Summit FM, proceeds benefit Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance
— As an early teen, guitarist and songwriter Ray Goren shared the stage with an impressive lineup of music legends, from B.B. King and Buddy Guy to Robby Krieger, from the Doors. He’s also written and recorded songs with Leon Russell, who served as an irreplaceable mentor for this young musician before passing away in 2016.
Goren, 17, will perform at Live Music Now!, 952 Kenmore Boulevard, Wednesday, March 14, as he stops through Akron on a tour of the Midwest. The show, which starts at 6:30 p.m., is sponsored by The Summit FM and is free to Summit members and listeners. Local favorite Thomas Kinkade of Run Thomas Run will open the night.
Goren was a child prodigy who began teaching himself guitar at 8, and his career so far, which would be the dream of a musician of any age, has been mainly the result of “opportunity, hard work and luck,” he says.
The Los Angeles-based songwriter recently released his debut full length album “Me,” which displays his growth as a writer and a musician. But, he admits, “I wouldn’t be able to do what I can without my family. They sacrifice the most.” This sacrifice included supporting Goren’s career from the beginning, a journey that started in New York City and has taken them to Los Angeles.
At an age when most musicians are still learning how to hold a guitar pick, Goren could comfortably hold his own next to players three times his age, and his music channels the blues masters of the past, while imbued with modern influences like hip-hop, electronic and pop music.
Being so talented so young did have some disadvantages, Goren admits. “People would say, ‘You’re good for your age.’ You’re either good or you’re not. I hope that once I turn 18, that novelty thing wears off.”
And thanks to hard work and some encouragement from his father, he says he continues to grow as a musician.
While he loves playing guitar, Goren says songwriting is perhaps more rewarding. “My whole goal is to try to write the best songs I can possibly write,” he says. “It’s always fun making and creating new music. It’s like putting together a puzzle in a much more pleasant way. The best feeling in the world is listening to it on that drive back home.”
His Akron show next week will feature Goren using a looping pedal to record and play live backing tracks, making him a self-contained one-man band. “I have written my best songs on the looper pedal because the chord structures are the same, so it really forces you to work on your melody and lyrics,” he says. “Your lyrics and melodies have to be on point the entire time. You cannot cut corners.”
Live Music Now! is a project of Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance, whose mission is to improve the quality of life in Akron’s Kenmore neighborhood, with particular emphasis on its “downtown” commercial area, the Boulevard District. Patrons are typically encouraged to make a $5 to $10 donation at the door, all of which goes to the artists performing that night. KNA makes its money off the sale of beverages, including craft beer from Mucky Duck Brewpub in Portage Lakes.
“We want artists to leave Kenmore knowing they are appreciated here, that they have musical peers who will go to bat for them and be sure they get paid what they deserve,” says KNA Executive Director Tina Boyes, who ends every show with a pitch from the stage to support the local artists with an additional donation as they leave.
Live Music Now! operates every first and third Thursday and Friday of the month, which will continue through May. Upcoming artists include singer-songwriter Gretchen Pleuss, South by Southwest veterans Grady Miller and nationally known session musician and Michael Stanley Band member Marc Lee Shannon.
“Akron is one of my favorite cities,” says Goren. “Everyone’s just so nice. I want to thank The Summit and Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance and I look forward to playing at Live Music Now!”
For details about the Ray Goren performance, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/146423092741691/.
“Me” can be found on Spotify and Apple Music. For info about Goren, visit www.raygoren.com, Instagram.com/raygorenofficial, soundcloud.com/