Any day of the week, you’re likely to find workhorse Ray Flanagan, with his folksy rasp, sharp lyrics and laid-back attitude, jamming the night away to a crowd of beer-drinking Clevelanders.
Adding to the near-mythical level of dedication, Flanagan has released more than 50 original songs — at least two a month — since the pandemic's start. One of his latest tracks is a sparse, melancholic boogie titled “Planets Don’t Touch,” where Flanagan mans every instrument but drums, as he began doing during the pandemic lockdown.
“I just love to write,” he says. “I love songs.”
Perhaps Flanagan’s unrivaled output came from the years spent toiling away at local open-mics and dive-bar gigs.
Inspired by Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, the rock ‘n’ roll songwriter — who performs acoustic and electric with his five-piece band The Mean Machines — got to work at 19 years old, around 2011.
“I didn't know what I was doing with my life, and I just kind of Googled open mics, jams and stuff,” says Flanagan, whose search brought him to musician Brent Kirby’s 10X3 songwriter showcase, now hosted at the Bop Stop.
“I would just go every week even if I wasn't on the list. There was a period where I would sign up every week, and I wouldn't play unless I had three new songs.” rayflanagan.net