Live Music Performance Coach
"I met Ray while he was judging a singing competition in Stamford, CT in 2004. At that point in time I was only comfortable singing quietly behind my best friend's beautiful, strong voice. Ray offered to play acoustic guitar and jam with me and also introduced me to vocal coach Melissa Mulligan and I started to gain confidence. From 2004 to 2007, Ray took me to every live show Fairfield County to offer and I met the most amazing, talented, and gracious musicians. Ray and I worked on taking piano covers to translate them to acoustic guitar, and he helped me put music to original work. Ray became one of my closest friends and, if we weren't performing live, we were practicing in his basement. I left CT and moved back to my hometown in California and have continued to write music and perform with local bands. I was able to visit CT in 2018 and sing with Ray once again. It seemed that no time passed at all! Ray is at the heart of the music scene in Fairfield County. He is fun, patient, and kind. I was, and will forever be, blessed to have met him. Thank you Ray!" - Karen Michelle
"My musical journey started seven years ago as a karaoke singer with aspirations of performing live music. At the time, I lacked both the confidence and understanding of how to get there... until I met Ray Simonelli. Ray and I initially met at a local open mic he co-hosted which I fortunately stumbled upon. I had never attended an open mic before, yet that very night, under the encouragement, guidance, and backing of Ray and the house band, I got up on stage in front of an audience to perform for the first time and the rest is history. Ray, a recognized and seasoned performer on the Fairfield County music scene, took me under his wing and, one step at a time, helped me grow into the confident musician that I am today. Ray was gracious enough to take the time to learn and arranged the music I wanted to perform, rehearse it together, and perform live by my side countless times. I went from hardly being able to get through one song to performing 3+ hour professional shows. It has been an amazingly fulfilling experience and it all started with the strong foundation Ray instilled in me as well as the many others he served. Ray has always been a pleasure to work with and one who holds an unparalleled passion for music and playing. To me, he is more than just a mentor, but someone I'm proud to call my friend. If you are interested in getting involved with live music, regardless of your experience level, look no further, let Ray show you the way." - Dan Maxwell
"My Ray", a talented guitar player and a most generous soul, is a Godsend for anyone wanting to fulfill a desire to get out and perform on the local live music scene. Ray is kind, caring and encouraging. Let him help you discover (or re-discover) the performer in you. You'll be glad you did!" - Dale Allen
"About five years ago, it was my great fortune to meet Ray when I got up the nerve to walk into the Horseshoe Cafe for my first open mic. I was 48 years old, a late blooming, wanna-be singer and Ray - "the human jukebox" as he was called by the open mic's host, encouraged me to get up and sing. His gentleness, positivity, sense of fun, and sincere support, gave me the courage and safety to do so. It was a life changer. I have been working with Ray since then, and as a result of his guidance and unwavering support, I sing and perform with more confidence, skill, and greater understanding of the craft. Ray's musical knowledge and skills, coupled with his sensitivity to his client's unique needs and goals, make him an excellent coach and accompaniest. "It's all about having fun" he reminds you. In addition to growing as a vocalist/performer, Ray helped open the door to a constant source of joy and fun!" - Christine Cook
"It all started at a friend's house where I saw Ray Simonelli who I met at a then recent video shoot of Ed Train's. Ray and I had a great conversation about our mutual love for music. One of his favorite songs that he had done acoustically with another girl years before was one of my favorites, "Bring Me To Life" by Evanescence. So we agreed we had to do it together. This was the start of a wonderful mentorship and friendship with Ray. Since then he has been by my side encouraging and challenging me to do many songs that used to be out of my comfort zone. We have enjoyed doing music together for almost six years. He was a big influence in my desire to start a project on my own. I now enjoy my own classic rock band called SHELL SHOCKT as well as a softer band called Soft Shell. Ray reminds me all the time that he and I are the original "Soft Shell". He is right! Thank you for all of your help launching my musical career Ray! Your help has been invaluable." - Shelley Welch
"How can I describe Ray? A master of ceremonies so to speak. He's the guy that, when you're on stage and looking into the crowd, he has somehow snuck into the place and is standing in the background with his arms folded, a cute grin on his face, and proud of you. He was instrumental (no pun intended) in giving me the push that I needed to get back out there and sing again after raising my family. He offered to learn my songs so that I could practice singing in a live setting again. If it weren't for him, my confidence would have taken a toll. Describing Ray is easy to do because he's an easy going guy with a friendly spirit, and one of the sincerest people I know. He wants to see people do what they love and has your best interests at heart. Oh, and he'll be your biggest fan! Thanks for everything Ray!. Love ya!" - Kim Smolinski-DeNardo.
"Ray is a kindhearted soul who enjoys sharing his talent and inspiring others to bring out their best in a patient, nurturing manner. In my young adult life, I was a professional singer and had made a pretty good living at it. I got married, had 3 kids and 2 dogs. Life got in the way. Although I had continuously been in and out of the local music scene, I had a long run of mommyhood and just didn't see my way back to the stage - the place and the "me" I love the most. I met Ray along the way via an open mic night several years ago. I instantly connected with him as he was encouraging and excited to showcase me in the near future. Ray always checked in on me over the years and, although I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel, he kept me in the loop by always letting me know the door was always open, and that he'd be there to make it happen when I was ready. Ray is very patient and easy to work with. He is truly gifted in not only his musical craft but his people person skills. He is so easy going and filled with a musical spirit that he just wants to share the love and the joy music can bring to the people around him. I am blessed to have Ray in my life and I look forward to getting out there many more times in the near future, singing my heart out while he plays along side me - always smiling, and always ready to rock!" - Jill Pollack-Rutsky
Speaking Of Testimonials and notes of thanks... Here are a few from me, Ray Simonelli:
I want to give special thanks first, and foremost, to my good friend Meg Hackett, a great muscian and singer that was mainly a solo performer that did gigs all over Connecticut, and in Block Island, for 25+ years. She is the reason that I am out on the local live music scene. I had severe stage fright many years ago which made it difficult for me to perform in front of people It was through Meg's consistent encouragement to perform with her at her gigs over a several month period that got me over that issue. And guess what? I started having fun which is what it was supposed to be all about in the first place! Thank you Meg for all of your support back in the day, and for your friendship.!
I also want to give thanks in the same regard to Tor Newcomer and Jimmy Kenneally, two great musicians and singers as well. Tor is an established musician on the live music scene for many years who had the bands The Vibe Bros. and also Tor & The Newcomers. Tor still performs today. I met Jimmy Keneally when he was a member of one of my all time favorite locals bands from back in the 1970's; the band Powerhouse. He's played with so many acts since then. I like to refer to Jimmy as "a musician's musician." He's a wealth of technical knowledge when it comes to music! Tor & Jimmy would team up and play as an acoustic duo act over the years. Anyway, upon finding out that I had started to sit in with Meg Hackett on her gigs, they graciously invited me to sit in on their duo gigs as well which helped to increase my comfort level and confidence at that time. Thanks Tor and Jimmy! You guys rock!
And last, but certainly not least, I want to thank Wendy May, one of the best vocalists in our area, and a great musician, for allowing me to sit in with her band, The Wendy May Band, for a full year to gain experience in playing in a full band environment, and to increase my confidence level in playing out in public in that dynamic. I am forever grateful for the experience. Thank you Wendy!