Sarah Garofalo spoke with Ricky Duran about his Space & Time tour, growing up in Worcester, his achievements and more! Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below. Tune in to Talk of the Commonwealth with Hank Stolz on WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.
Sarah: Good morning! Welcome to Behind the Scenes at The Hanover Theatre. This is Sarah Garofalo, and today I’m here with someone that is near and dear to the city of Worcester and a great friend of ours here at The Hanover Theatre, Ricky Duran. Welcome, Ricky!
Ricky: Hey, how’s it going?
Sarah: It’s going good. We’re happy to have you here. I’m really excited to be joined with you today and to talk about your upcoming show here. Ricky Duran will be here making a stop on his tour, May 6 at 8 PM. We love having Ricky here because, for those of you who don’t know, he hails from the great city of Worcester. Ricky, the last time you were here, it was 2021 and we had just reopened our doors after being on a little hiatus due to COVID. You were actually our first show after reopening. It was an incredible night, I believe that the mayor was here and you received the key to the city.
Ricky: Yeah, that’s right. It was actually pretty amazing. He gave me the key to the city on the stage of The Hanover Theatre. Like you said, it was wild because we were on a hiatus due to COVID. It was the first performance there since the pandemic, and we had a great turnout. I had an awesome time and it was probably one of my favorite performances to this day.
Sarah: That’s awesome. Can you tell us a little bit more about that night and how it was being the first show back on our stage?
Ricky: It was great because I hadn’t been able to perform for a long time. I think we had about 2,000 people there that night, and my band flew in from Austin, Texas. We were all very psyched to get up on stage. The crowd was very energetic. Any time I finished a song, they would start cheering. It was almost like a big homecoming for me after my performance on The Voice and getting back into the swing of things.
Sarah: I love that. As we both mentioned, you’re no stranger to the area. You’re from Worcester and you also graduated from the Berklee College of Music, so can you tell us a little bit about living in New England and some fond memories you have from the Worcester area in particular?
Ricky: I grew up there and my family still resides there. I have four nephews that I go and visit pretty often. I’ve actually got a private show coming up in the next few weeks, which is always nice because I get to spend time up there. Now, I think that there’s a lot more music in the area than there was, but growing up, I found that I was the lone sheep out there doing my own thing. I was playing acoustic gigs for years and years and years. I graduated from Berklee College of Music, which is such a great college. I learned so much from not only the professors, but the students that travel there from all over the world and are just incredible people and incredible musicians.
I always love going back to Worcester. It’s definitely still my biggest fan base. They welcome me with open arms every time, so I’m very excited to get back there on May 6.Ricky Duran
Sarah: Can you tell us a little bit about some of your favorite places to go in Worcester when you’re here, and where you spent your time growing up?
Ricky: When I was younger, I grew up in Grafton, Massachusetts. So, I like to go there every now and visit friends. A buddy of mine owns Cancúns, which is a Mexican joint. When I’m in Worcester, I love spending time on Lake Quinsigamond during the summer. A lot of my friends own bars out there, like The Pint, Valentinos and Meze Estiatorio. The first bar I actually ever played at in Worcester was The Banner. I think the reason it was so nostalgic for me to be performing at The Hanover Theatre was because I was playing four or five nights a week just around the corner at these smaller local bars. To get into a theatre like that and pack it, and to have people coming to see me saying rather than go see the game at the bar where I was just background music, it’s just such an amazing feeling.
Sarah: I believe it. That’s amazing. We just love having you here and it’s great, especially since you have quite the impressive resume. You mentioned earlier you were on NBC’s The Voice. You were the runner up of season 17. You’ve also won a few awards, do you want to talk to us about those?
Ricky: I was on season 17 on The Voice, I got runner up, which really put me in a whole different category of notoriety because I hadn’t gained that level of success or exposure before. That show just broadcasted me out to millions of people and helped launch my career. I’ve gotten awards, as far as the city of Worcester, Best Male Vocalist and Best Solo Artist for a number of years now, which is really nice. I love that the city does that because it gives local musicians something to look forward to and makes them feel like we’re in the community and people are noticing us. I also won Berklee College of Music Battle of the Bands back when I was there. I was younger, I was about 18 years old playing around the Fenway Park area. That was a great show.
Sarah: I see in your bio that you also won the People’s Choice Award for the International Songwriting Competition in 2022 for “She Closed Her Eyes.”
Ricky: That’s right. That’s a song I wrote for my mother. My sister actually placed me in the competition without me knowing. She didn’t really tell me until we were in the top 10. I was like, “Wow, it’s really happening.”
Sarah: That’s awesome. Your newest album is “Space & Time,” and that was charted number one on iTunes. It was also recognized as one of the top New England albums of 2022 by Worcester Magazine. Can you tell us more about how you got your start in music before you started achieving all these accomplishments?
Ricky: I grew up playing music because my father was a musician. Growing up, he used to play all the time. He would play the piano, bass guitar and sing around the house at parties. I got inspired to start, then I started taking guitar lessons and got into blues guitar, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, which are still some of my favorite musicians to listen to. It was a matter of, after high school, deciding if I wanted to continue pursuing music, and that’s what I wanted to do. Berklee was the only college that I actually applied to, so I didn’t really have a plan B. I’ve never really entertained the idea of doing anything else, so it’s always been the number one thing I want to do. I think the amount of time and dedication that I’ve put into it has led me to where I am today.
Sarah: That’s amazing. Speaking of your album, tell us about your inspirations behind some of the songs on your album.
Ricky: This past record, “Space & Time,” was a very personal record. A lot of the songs on there, I actually wasn’t sure if I wanted to release because they pertain very much so to actual events in my life. I wrote a song for my mother and I wrote a song for my father. There’s a song on there about leaving Worcester and going down to Austin, Texas, and that song’s called “Selfish Love.” It’s one of my favorite songs on the record. As far as lyrically based, it’s kind of a narrative of my life. As far as the music pertains, it’s very blues influenced and very songwriter influenced. I believe that it was categorized as Americana. I wasn’t really going for a genre in particular, it’s just kind of what came out. You can definitely hear the blues influence on pretty much every song on the record.
Sarah: Cool. Like I mentioned earlier, you will be here on May 6 at 8 PM. Can you give us some details about your tour and what people can expect when they come to the show?
Ricky: I’m going on tour starting in March. We’re going to hit Connecticut, New York, Los Angeles, Jacksonville, Nashville and Austin. It’s my first national tour and, of course, May 6, we’re going to be in Worcester, Massachusetts. It’s definitely going to be one of my favorite shows on the tour. My buddy, Max Boyle, who I met on season 17 of The Voice, will be opening the show. We’re flying him in from Nashville and he is a phenomenal talent. His voice is incredible, it’s more of a pop-soul genre. I think that everybody that enjoys my music will also like his music. It’s going to be an awesome night with him starting off the show. I’ll do a sixty-minute set with a my full band, some people from Austin, some people local in Worcester. You can expect to hear a lot of new tunes that I’m working on for my new EP, but I also will be playing my favorites from the record “Space & Time.”
Sarah: That’s super exciting. I’m really looking forward to it and I know that everyone here is, as well. We have a Conservatory here at The Hanover Theatre where students can take all types of classes and private lessons. I was wondering if you had any piece of advice for those who are trying to jumpstart their career as a singer-songwriter as well?
If I could change one thing, I would go back and tell myself, ‘Take as many opportunities as possible because you never know what doors are going open for you.’Ricky Duran
Ricky: As far as songwriting goes, share your music. Don’t be afraid to write with someone that’s outside of your genre. The more connections that you have at your disposal, the more likelihood of success you’re going to come across. Also, constantly practice. It’s all about the time you put into the craft. Connections are also key, just get out there and meet like-minded people. Honestly, I would say traveling has helped me quite a bit. Meeting new people in different states and just coming across different opportunities that you wouldn’t normally. I think it’s a matter of taking those steps and taking chances.
Sarah: That’s great. Ricky, we are super excited to welcome you home to Worcester and have you grace our stage here at The Hanover Theatre again. Do you have any parting words before we wrap up or any tidbits about what you’re up to these days?
Ricky: I’m just working on my new EP, and I’m very excited about that. It’s going to feature a little bit of soul, country and blues. There’s some awesome songs, probably my favorite songs that I’ve written to date. Other than that, check out my tour. You can go to IAmRickyDuran.com to check out when I’ll be in your area, and May 6, I’ll be in Worcester. Stay up to date on my Instagram and Facebook, and I’m really looking forward to seeing you all May 6 in Worcester.
Sarah: So are we! Once again, Ricky Duran on his Space & Time tour with his special guest, Max Boyle, will be here May 6 at 8 PM. Tickets start at just $33. There are plenty available on our website, TheHanoverTheatre.org. There are also a limited amount of VIP Meet and Greet tickets available, as well. Ricky, thank you for your time today. It’s been great talking to you.
Ricky: Thank you so much, Sarah.