Singer and guitarist Ben Mauro is venturing out on his own, choosing Central New York to release his first-ever EP entitled "Take Your Time."

In what he himself is billing as his "very first SPECIAL HOMETOWN SHOW," Mauro will be performing at Shifty's in Syracuse on Wednesday, May 7, 2014.  The bar will not hold its regular open mic night for Mauro's performance.  Mauro himself performed at Shifty's open mic nights years ago when he was just breaking into the music world.

Mauro joined WIBX First News with Keeler in the Morning just the day before his EP release.  Full audio of the interview can be heard in the 8am hour here.

WIBX first caught up with Mauro at a shoot for Hello, Central New York on WUTR.

Mauro also hosts his own Internet-based travel show, "Let's Go," which started as his way to share his travels with family and friends.

Mauro's career began with music lessons in school.  Mauro took on the French horn, he says, in fourth or fifth grade.  He says he played through middle school and then stopped playing in high school.  He says he dropped the "music thing," at least for a while, until his dad went jogging one day.  During that run Mauro's dad found a guitar someone had thrown away in the trash.  He brought the guitar home and Ben eventually picked it up and began jamming with friends, and a cousin who played as well.  They graduated to the basement and, even though he claims that police were called to his home on several occasions for noise complaints, his parents - who are teachers - remained supportive.

Although they did not mention the need for a "backup" plan, Mauro says his parents insisted that, if he wanted to become a professional musician, the endeavor must be treated as a job.  "If you make it your job, and you work hard at it," they told him, "you have our support."

Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino


And now supporting the dreams of other young people is important to Mauro.  He has since gone back to his old school to inspire the students there and learn a little himself.

Mauro attended West Genesee High School in Syracuse, to which he recently returned to inspire another generation of musicians.  He says the school, which was surrounded by a vibrant music community then, has undergone a great transformation.  He says a greater emphasis on music and the arts have benefited the students and community.

Mauro began performing at New York City's Cafe Wha? and began performing with Kelly Clarkson at the start of her career.  He went on to take the stage with Don Felder, John Fogerty, Prince, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera.  He now performs regularly as Lionel Richie's lead guitarist on tour.

Here are Ben Mauro and Lionel Richie in rehearsal on November 20, 2006 for The American Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium:

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller, Getty Images

As a quick aside, in preparation for the show we reached out through social media to find out if Ben's public had any questions for him.  Unfortunately for the purposes of our interview just about every question posed had to do with Mauro's relationship status.  When we told Ben of this he laughed, genuinely surprised by the reaction that he gets.

And, it will only cause hearts to throb further when we confirm that Ben is every bit as nice as he appears on stage.  We were hard-pressed to find a single photo of him not smiling. Even when he is serious Mauro appears as though he is about ready to crack a smile. We asked if it was all a facade or whether Ben "is just having a blast onstage."  He said that he is having a great time, and counts his blessings that he is able to create music for a living.

Stay tuned for more on Ben Mauro.  He expects to head back out on turn with Richie this summer.