Cedars West in Youngstown will host an album premiere party for “About This Time” on Oct. 24, featuring the voices of Mahoning Valley born musician Rick Baluck, and the eight area musicians who assisted in creating the album. The event begins at 9:30 p.m.
All of these talented artists, including Baluck, are graduates of or were associated with the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University.
Some may know Baluck as the local “Meat Loaf” for his resemblance to the singer, but to others who don’t personally know him, he is viewed as a local music staple of the Mahoning Valley.
According to Baluck, this album was a year-long process, but due to his passion for music that developed at a young age, it was never considered work.
From the time he was born, music was in his life. His mother sang, and his father collected records. This drew him to taking accordion lessons when he reached age nine. He had a fascination with these records that grew into a deeper appreciation for music as an art.
“When I listened to these [records], I felt a strong sense of joy,” he said.
The love for guitar came into Baluck’s life shortly after he learned how to play the accordion.
In the 1960’s while attending Cardinal Mooney High School, he formed a group with his classmate Barry McNally and Kathleen Callan. They were known at “The Green Trio.” Northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania were two of the regions that were their primary performance areas. The Youngstown Playhouse’s after-theater venue, The Curtain Call Café, began to consider them regulars after the group began gaining face in the area’s music scene and performed multiple shows at the cafe.
This was just the beginning for Baluck; he traveled to New York in 1971 and his list of venues grew as he made appearances at The Village Gas Light, The Bitter End and Pips in Sheepshead Bay, just to name a few.
“Over the years, I’ve learned to live in the moment and appreciate the good things that come my way and work through the challenges,” Baluck said.
Living in the moment and facing challenges ended up bringing Baluck back to Youngstown three years later, where he continued making music in a variety of different ways. He and Callan co-hosted a weekly music show called “Celebrate” that received the International Gabriel Award for Excellence in Broadcasting in 1976. He also got the chance to produce and create soundtracks for many documentaries and ads for agencies in Ohio.
“There is always something new to discover, in terms of both music itself and the different kinds of circumstances that evolve through pursuing musical activities,” Baluck said.
Baluck spent some time producing music freelance, along with being a constant performer in Chicago. In the 20 years he spent there, he had the experience of meeting Michael Smith, John Prime and Jim Post.
“For the most part, music brings me into contact with a greatly varied community of people, whether musicians or those that simply appreciate the joy that music provides — who seem to share a creative, inspiring, uplifting energy that I find invigorating,” he said.
Baluck can be seen performing at The Barking Spider in Cleveland along with other assorted venues across the state.
His musical journey continues as he releases his album this coming Friday and will host its premiere with many of his comrades who made the whole album possible. This album features the decades of experience he has had with music.
Featured on the album are lead guitar by Dave Lynn; drums by “The Time Keeper,” Ed Davis; saxophone by Fred Burazer; steel guitar by Al Moss; keyboard by Clay “Black Wolf” Colley; and backup harmony by four talented singers: Meredith Anderson, Megan Seivert, Tyler Lisko and Jim Weitman.
“Although the album was a great deal of work, it was a labor of love,” Baluck said.