There’s a bit of Wadsworth every time Gabe Reed – aka MOOKY – takes the stage.
The 2014 Wadsworth High School graduate, who grew up in the Medina County township, said he tried sports but quickly found that he pretty much “sucked” on everyone he tried. He discovered his love for music which led him to go to Pittsburgh to study in college.
Nowadays he makes a permanent appearance as one of three resident rockers in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
But it wasn’t always that easy with a permanent gig for the aspiring singer and songwriter.
After performing at clubs in and around Akron, Reed said he packed his few belongings and set out to chase his dreams in New York City.
Among other things, he brought the remains of a dusty old scarecrow from his grandfather’s farm, which he and his pals called Mook because she was sad and so beaten up.
Reed said he played and sang as a street musician on the subways and streets of New York City and would set up the scarecrow as a prop and trope for a lucky guy.
“Mooky was with me from the start. I think, like him, I also felt a bit like a loser,” said the 25-year-old. “I’m chasing a dream that most people think is hopeless.”
Life wasn’t easy when he first arrived in New York.
Reed said he helped a woman who went for walks and looked after dogs. She let him sleep in the kennel area for free.
“I slept with the dogs that were all over me,” he said. “Man, it smelled bad.”
But soon he was earning more and more tips while playing and taking inquiries on the subway and was able to afford a “shitty little” apartment.
On a good weekend, Reed said he could make up to $ 200 in tip in a single night.
It was down the street, he said, he quickly learned to play almost every song imaginable in order to earn extra tips on his simple guitar with a little help from his computer and old Mook.
The most popular request was Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey”.
“I don’t know why, but everyone is calling for this song,” he said. “Then there is (expletive) ‘Free Bird’.”
Reed describes his music as “anti-pop,” with influences from artists such as Mac Miller, Prince and Jeff Buckley, combining alternative rock and hip-hop.
He eventually landed a few gigs in bigger New York clubs, but just as things were going up the pandemic hit hit.
The subways were empty of passengers, so Reed moved back to northeast Ohio to be closer to the family, including parents Matt and Shelli Reed, who own The Sub Station in downtown Wadsworth, and ponder what next thing to do is.
He is playing again and pursuing his career thanks to the Rock Hall program that supports aspiring musicians financially and professionally.
He is one of three “rockers” who perform on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays both inside in front of paying guests and free of charge on the plaza outside the Rock Hall.
Reed said he and the other rockers in residence, Sarah Bailey and Marcus Smith, were collaborating on a song that will be performed on August 21 when summer in residence comes to an end.
Reed hopes the end of summer is just the beginning as he plans to release a yet-to-be-named album to complement his other music on iTunes and Spotify.
As part of the second year residency program, Reed has access to a studio to work on his music, along with promotional and marketing expertise from Rolling Stone magazines and record producers in Nashville, Tennessee.
“What a cool opportunity, man,” he said. “I’ve met so many incredible people.”
With so many resources, Reed said it was sometimes difficult after years of busking alone to be ready to accept help to make ends meet.
But he doesn’t want to be just another insignificant Mook when there is still music to be made and singing.
“Music is a weapon and a war on misfortune.”
Craig Webb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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