Hot Young Guitarists Take The Spotlight, But on Two Very Different Stages

Ray Goren and Lyric Dubee - Photos © Donna Balancia
Ray Goren and Lyric Dubee - Photos © Donna Balancia

Lyric and Ray: This Time Opposites Attract — The Crowds

Lyric Dubee – Photo © Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA — On a recent Tuesday night in Los Angeles, two young guitarists, Lyric Dubee and Ray Goren held the music industry mesmerized on different sides of town.

Lyric is 17 years old, Ray is 15.  One is blonde, one brunette.  A Canadian guy and an Orange County guy.  And on this night, one played The Mondrian, the other, The Mint.

But Lyric Dubee and Ray Goren have something else in common.  They’re teenage guitar-playing, singer-songwriting phenoms the music world is watching.

Classically trained Lyric was playing an upscale photo and music celebration on the Mondrian rooftop, where guests spoke quietly, kept a respectful distance and sipped martinis.

Ray was wailing and jumping around on the Mint’s famous stage, working up an already-rowdy beer and wine crowd over on Pico.

Both young men are incredibly gifted and mature teenagers, and both play the blues as well as rock and pop.  But the road they’re taking to their burgeoning notoriety could not be more different.

Lyric Dubee

Lyric has gone the academic route.  He’s studied in some of the finest music schools and has taken what he’s learned and adapted to his own brand of music. A blue-eyed, tanned and tow-headed teen, it’s easy to imagine Lyric surfing the Southern California waves, but he’s actually from Canada, the spawning grounds of many of the world’s top musicians.  But it would be too simple to put him in a category.

“I don’t want to be labeled into a musical niche,” Lyric said during the Knight Bilham Defiantly Inspired series and photo exhibit at the Mondrian in Hollywood.

Lyric Dubee is a classically trained musician who defies any one label – Photo © Donna Balancia

Born and raised near Toronto, the 17-year-old Lyric has put an immense effort into theory and technique, studying classical music with top teachers and at the Royal Conservatory of Music. He’s now taking his brand of music out to the public.  VIDEO: LYRIC PLAYS LES PAUL CELEBRATION

“I took all my training and I put it in my Revolution Rock,” Lyric said. “And I call it that because I don’t think artists should fit into any mold, I play blues, classical, rock and pop. Why should I have to pick one?”

“There are few who have a gift like Lyric’s,” said one fan in the crowd. “He has studied music for many years. He works hard to back up that rare talent. He knows how to speak well — he likes to speak — and presents himself well. And that’s important.”

“I really enjoy performing and I have a lot of people to thank in getting me this far,” Lyric said, referring to his mentor John Weston, himself a classically trained guitarist, as well as friends and relatives. Lyric’s family is devoted to his success and they support his endeavors.  If it takes a village to raise a child, as the saying goes, then it takes family to produce a musician.

“I think it’s extremely important as much as John’s a teacher and a friend, he taught me early on a certain level of theory behind the music as well as the history and the technique,” Lyric said. “I feel that if you have something that you’re good at, you need to pursue your dreams. Making music and performing is my dream.”

Ray Goren and Leon Russell Photo by Donna Balancia
Ray Goren performs at Bonnie Raitt concert under the watchful eye of Mentor, Leon Russell – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Ray Goren

Meanwhile, across town on the famous, but small red-velvet-curtained stage at The Mint, 15-year-old Ray wows the fans with his lightning-fast, fret-ripping blues and rock guitar work.

Members of the audience — seated in the dark at the tiny cafe tables and standing or sitting at the bar — are screaming and losing their minds over Ray’s wild guitar work. And noticing the intense faces Ray makes that  underscore every wailing note he plays.

Ray is a page from another type of book.  His music does the talking — and when he plays the only open mouths are those that are on the faces of stunned audience members.

Goren’s training has been a bit different than his counterpart across town. Ray, too, is a rare find in the world of music.  But his training hasn’t come from the classroom.  Ray’s an Orange County product, and is a prodigy of his great white-bearded mentor, Leon Russell. As can be imagined Ray’s lessons with Russell didn’t come out of a classroom, but instead on the  stages and behind the scenes in bars and small clubs in the OC and in LA. Ray’s been wowing audiences since he was a little kid, all under the watchful eye of his loving father, David.

Ray struck up a friendship with Russell when they met at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano several years ago, and almost immediately he earned the respect of the hard-to-impress blues-rock legend.

Ray Goren at The Mint – Photo © Donna Balancia

He was totally confident on that fateful day when he would find himself backstage with Russell. The veteran musician took a shine to Ray and was blown away by this little kid with howlingly wicked blues guitar licks.

Since then, not only has Ray had an experienced musician on whom he could depend, but he even accompanies Russell on big gigs from time to time.

Ray played a benefit concert with Russell and Bonnie Raitt last summer at the Canyon Club that left the audience dazed and amazed. Audience members were visibly stunned and were left looking at each other wide-eyed after Ray played his songs.

Today, Ray and Russell work together on a range of projects and music. And, he says, life is good in Orange County where he lives.  Ray just got a residency at Hollywood’s Sassafrass Saloon on Saturday nights and he’s having fun.

As for the future for both Ray and Lyric?  Both will be recording more and touring more.

And maybe one day, these two very different guitarists —  if they aren’t there already — will take the same stage. Together.