Most 9-year-old kids are content playing video games and watching endless hours of TV and YouTube videos. While Tommy Ragen is no exception, he has somehow found the time to write and record his first solo album of original music, which dropped on iTunes this week.
The bushy-haired 3rd grader from La Jolla, California, has been making music, according to him, “for as long as I can remember.” I met with little Tommy at his home as he was going over details with his parents for his CD release party, held at Univ Studios in Encinitas on Saturday, August 5.
The Ragen’s, a tight-knit family of five, have quite the full plate these days. Taylor, the youngest of the clan, has to be shuffled to soccer practice, eldest daughter Emma’s off to musical theatre rehearsal, and soon Tommy’s band mates are showing up for band practice. I’m exhausted just imagining the family schedule for the day, much less a whole week.
That schedule is about to take another turn as Tommy and his father Frank leave for New York next week, as Tommy landed a part in the coveted “School of Rock” national tour musical that will be traveling across the U.S. for most of 2018.
I asked Tommy if he was overwhelmed with his schedule or his upcoming job. “No,” he said, “I’m just really excited to make some new friends and to be in the musical, it’s going to be a great experience.”
While I wasn’t sure he understood what the coming year was going to entail at first, I found that his parents were fully transparent of all the work that lay ahead. Their open discussion covered the good, bad, and the ugly, and little Tommy seemed more than ready for the challenge. It was hard for me to grasp knowing how timid I was at 9 years old. I saw none of that in his eyes. It was foreign, but inspiring as well. I guess that’s what happens when you have a solid family unit that supports each other in every way.
As our talk shifted from his upcoming move to New York, Tommy was excited to tell me about finishing his first album, titled simply “9.” The original songs that Tommy has written are wise beyond their years, yet filled with the sweet and sad sentiments of a boy dealing with bullies, young love, and seeing the world through a kid’s eyes.
Brian Scheuble, producer on the album says, “I’ve been in this industry a long time and been fortunate enough to work with some incredible artists and seeing Tommy at 9 years old just blew my mind. I’m really proud of this album. I’ll let the songs speak for themselves.”
I caught just a glimpse of band practice at Tommy’s house that day, but it was later that evening at Lestat’s West in Normal Heights that I got to see Tommy lead his band through a full set. The quiet little boy I spoke with earlier in the day was gone, replaced by a badass front man with rock star stage presence. The young singer ripped his way through solid rock leads, punctuated by hair flips and jokes between songs. To say he was comfortable on stage would be an understatement. He was in command in front of the audience.
While you may not have the chance to see Tommy perform in town for the next year, you can find his album on iTunes-cdbaby-spotify. Give it a listen. You just might be listening to a prodigy whose career is just leaving the launching pad.
To learn more about Tommy, follow his social media
Itunes: Tommy Ragen