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Ray Goren At The Village At Westfield Topanga, Sunday March 13th 2016


Ray Goren


What do you know about the blues when you are 16? 14? 11? Teenager Ray Goren has been playing the blues since he was a kid, he has been featured on GuitarWorld several times since 2014 (covering Jimi Hendrix!), and he has already played with Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Robbie Krieger, Leon Russell, Deacon Jones, and even B.B. King! He grew up listening to jazz and blues, started playing piano at 3, choose the guitar to write his own material a few years ago, and went on recording a few EPs between 2013 and 2014. By now, you should be either completely in awe in front of such precocity or totally consumed by jealousy…

On Sunday afternoon, Ray Goren was part of the concert series at the Village at Westfield Topanga, organized by 88.5 KCSN, and even though Sunday afternoon is always a weird time, and a stage in a mall, right in the middle of families’ stroll, always an awkward place to check out new music, he gave us a taste of his personal and impressive mix of blues, rock, R&B and jazz. Kids of his age play basketball and listen to rap, modern R&B or EDM, so it’s a strange thing to see a teenager play as if he was an old soul, but Ray Goren truly is one.

He plays like a young B.B. King, with his face making interesting contortions while he gets all these bluesy licks from his guitar, he doesn’t fake it for a second, he feels each second of his music and lives through each distortion coming from his guitar. He knows his subject like a pro, gets monster riffs from his pedals, and his music builds up at each grin of pain and effort that transpires on his face. He took the stage with a sort of shy and unassuming presence but his assurance was more than clear as soon as he started playing and singing with a powerful and bright voice that dominated the music all set-long. He was not even afraid to ask for crowd participation like a true bluesman, and even though he only got a timid response – what else would you expect from a mall in the valley on a Sunday – he continued undefeated, his eyes mid-closed, playing more guitar solos, and making more facial distortions, which can tell us where the pain comes from… How does this kid know all this, is beyond any explanation, and he even came up with a lot of jazzy chords and many catchy tunes. A few plays of his song ‘Save my Soul’ on KCSN actually raised my curiosity, since the maturity of the tune is astonishing for his young age, while ‘Cash and Gold’ had a more playful light style, injecting nevertheless a few beasty bluesy jazzy riffs. Being good at guitar at a young age is one thing, but being able to write great songs is another step but everything seems to come very easily to Ray, he has composed catchy songs, which seem to bring together many classic influences… How could a teen live in this world of classic stuff such as Thelonius Monk and B.B. King in 2016? But be reassured, he is also well aware of our times as he suddenly covers the Weeknd’s ‘Earned it’ and gives to the R&B song a very bluesy and unexpected side.

The more I read about this kid, the more I am amazed…This picture of Ray bowing to B.B. King actually tells everything, the late great bluesman, whom Ray discovered when he was just 7, is one of his greatest influences. Before he was 10 he had already formed his own group, the Generation Blues Experience, with South Central blues veterans, while he also leads another band, the more pop-oriented Ray Goren and the Soul Fixers. He has already recorded several albums with Kramer, an engineer and producer whose credits include work with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Peter Frampton and Kiss, and who hired top musicians such as bassist Paul Bushnell, drummer Abraham Laboriel Jr. and singer Rose Stone (Sly’s sister) to back Ray. What else can I add? Ray Goren plays guitar as other kids of his age ride bicycles, and he sweats soul and blues like legends… Ray Goren really doesn’t need anybody,

Stop Waiting
I Need You Here to Stay
Save My Soul
You Gotta Learn
Earned It
Cash and Gold
I Do/Ain’t Here
Song For Me
When my Train

More pictures here

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