If you go
Who: Fundraiser for asap.org and the Mike Ezzo benefit fund, with 5 Elements, the One-Forty-Ones, Mike Grahovac and Ralph Rich. An all-ages show
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Where: The Lemon Grove,
122 W Federal St., Youngstown
Tickets: $5; call 330-744-7683
By John Benson
Solo singer-guitarist Ralph Rich has come a long way since his days playing in High School Rock Off band Fuzzy Dice.
“I was about 17 or 18, and I had all of the stage fright one could have playing on a big stage like The Odeon,” said Rich, a 2006 Ursuline High School graduate and Youngstown State University English major. “Now I’ve become more accustomed to it. I can’t wait to get up on the stage and show my act. I love people listening and just seeing their reactions, good or bad. It’s a learning experience, but I feel at home on stage. Hopefully, it takes me somewhere.”
The Hubbard native is finishing up his debut EP, which he’s recording at Kontinuous Jams Studios and expects to release it later this year. The project includes the upbeat and Beatles-esque “For You” and the slower ballad “Gia.” The latter track received airplay last year on WNCD-FM’s “The Homegrown Show.”
“It’s a ballad about a girl and has really deep lyrics,” Rich said. “That’s one of my favorites. I have more of an upbeat acoustic pop-rock style, but somebody once told me I sounded like Elvis Costello, and I’ve been compared to John Lennon and The Goo Goo Dolls.”
Perhaps the comparisons are a product of cover tunes — The Beatles (“Help”) and The Goo Goo Dolls (“Slide”) — Rich has added to his set. Whatever the case, the young performer has been actively playing out a few times a month. In addition to appearing at The Wonder Bar and B&O Station, Rich is about to make his 11th Lemon Grove appearance Friday. He also recently joined the local party band Higher Tide, which makes its debut at Wingfest outside of the Covelli Centre later this month.
So what’s next for Rich after graduation next year?
“I’m thinking either master’s degree or just packing up and moving to Los Angeles for music,” Rich said. “Just to wing it. It can’t hurt. It can only make me stronger. I’m thinking about packing up and moving. I have some friends out there. Maybe just for the summer, I’ll go and test the waters to see if I like it. I just might end up making a residency out there.”
He added, “I’m just trying to think positive. I always hope that’ll lead to something greater.”