Showing posts with label Barbara Bush Children's Hospital of Portland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barbara Bush Children's Hospital of Portland. Show all posts

Friday, March 15, 2024

Country star Michael Ray performs at Erik’s Church to raise money for The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital

By Melissa Carter

Nearly 300 people gathered at Erik’s Church over the course of two days, March 5 and March 6, to take in the inspiring acoustics of Warner Music Nashville recording artist Michael Ray and raise funds for The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital of Portland.

Warner Music Nashville recording artist Michael
Ray performs at Erik's Church in Windham to
raise funds for the Barbara Bush Children's 
Hospital of Portland.
The concert was presented by Country 99.9 The Wolf radio for the third consecutive year and featured special guests Ashley Cooke on Tuesday and Meghan Patrick on Wednesday. The community came together to bring in a jaw-dropping $38,000 between donations, ticket sales and live auction for tickets to see Tim McGraw in Boston.

Kenny Cianchette, the owner of Erik’s Church, expressed his gratitude for having a venue capable of giving people a chance to come together for a good cause and experience an intimate night of fun and good music at the same time. Cianchette hosts various fundraising events throughout the year and said it’s just one of the reasons that he absolutely loves what he does being in the business.

Before taking the stage on March 6, Ray answered a few questions during an interview.

His humble demeanor was like talking to an old friend instead of someone who has traveled the country and played on renowned stages like the Grand Old Opry over 75 times.

Ray said this was not his first visit to Maine, but that he hasn’t really had the chance to explore the beauty here like he wants to and hopes to experience the many outdoor recreation opportunities that he loves here like hunting and fishing.

According to Ray, he was inspired by country music since he was a very young boy, having had the influence of his grandfather Amos who played guitar and formed a family country band. It was Amos that taught Ray to play guitar at the age of 9 and he began writing his own songs when he was 11.

In describing his creative writing process, Ray had to stop and think for a minute. “It kind of just comes in waves,” he said. “When I am touring, I am solely focused on performing, but when I get down time, I find that through conversations, experiences and dreams the words and rhythms just come to me.”

He said he has a bank of more than 100 unreleased songs and there is no end in sight.

Ray has performed with many big names in country music but said one of his personal favorite tours was “Higher Education” with friends and idols Kid Rock, Lee Brice, Tim Montana and Billy Gibbons. He said he would love to collaborate with Gary Allen someday as he has looked up to him since his early days of learning to play guitar and that his music always spoke to him.

Aside from playing with Gary Allen, Ray is hoping to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry and to start a family. For now, his basset hound Bo is the one who welcomes him to his Georgia home when gets breaks, which is only for about two months a year. On his down time, he enjoys grilling in his backyard and getting outdoors hunting turkey and duck.

He says the best advice he’s ever been given is “Trust your gut, trust the process.”

When Ray went on stage at Erik’s Church, he captivated the audience with his relatable lyrics and stories and showcased such genuine talent. His heartfelt performance and overall realness was something felt by all who attended the show.

Ray expressed his love of this region and of Erik’s Church for its hometown feel. He said the outpouring of community support here is evident and there is nothing he loves more than being able to bring people together through music to raise money for a good cause.

“That is what country music is about,” he said, “It’s about community, connection, and giving back. Playing on a small stage like Erik’s Church is a nice change, a chance to just kind of ‘shoot from the hip’ and be myself.” <