Boston still has what it takes to rock

Tommy Mann Jr. The Orange Leader

KINDER, La.  Make no doubt about it, Boston is not just another  rock and roll band.

The rock band Boston performed this past Friday night at Coushatta Casino and Resort in Kinder, La., in front of several thousand loyal rock fans and the group delivered a stellar concert performing hit after hit during a spectacular 90-minute showcase.

Boston brings its unique brand of rock 'n' roll to Kinder

Gary Pihl knows he has one of the coolest jobs in America.

Since 1985, Pihl (pronounced Peel) has played guitar for Boston, a band noted for its driving guitar sound that many have tried to imitate, usually with little success.

Boston will perform at 8 p.m. today (July 6) at Coushatta Casino Resort as part of its first tour in four years.

"I can tell you exactly when I heard that sound for the first time," Pihl said in a telephone interview. "I was driving near my home in the San Francisco area. I got to a stop sign and I heard "More Than a Feeling" coming out of the car ahead of me."

"More Than a Feeling" was not Boston's biggest hit, topping at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1976, but the song introduced the Boston sound pioneered by group founder Tom Scholz to music fans. It was the first track on Boston's self-titled 1976 debut album that sold more than 17 million copies.

Pihl, who was 26 in 1976, already was a successful musician in the San Francisco area. He joined singer Sammy Hagar's band in 1977, just in time for the band to be hired as the opening act for the final few shows of Boston's tour that year. Hagar and his band were hired as the opening act for all of Boston's 1978 tour.

"You can say I have been with Boston on every tour they ever had," Pihl said. "I was just on the opening act for the first two tours."

When Hagar disbanded his group in 1985 to join Van Halen, Pihl wasn't out of work long. Scholz was finishing Boston's third album, "Third Stage," and called in Pihl to help.

"It was supposed to be for one song," Pihl said. "I ended up packing up the wife and kids and moving to the Boston area."

Pihl became a key figure in a band that does not put out albums nearly as often as many groups -- there have been just six albums, one of them a compilation -- and does not tour endlessly either.

"What was nice about that is that I was able to be home with my wife and kids," Pihl said.

The fact that Boston does not follow the usual pattern of a rock group has been driven by Scholz, who is not your typical musician. He holds both bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and owns Scholz Research and Development. He is the inventor of the Rockman guitar amplifier.

"I think Tom owns about 29 patents," said Pihl, who doubles as vice president of Scholz Research and Development. "I think it is safe to say that we are the only group who performs using amplifiers that we built."

Scholz is a reluctant tourer -- possibly why the group limits its live performances. Boston will play around 40 dates this summer, including tonight's show at Coushatta Casino Resort in Kinder.

The band has gone through numerous lineup changes over the years and is touring with a new lineup this summer.

"We have been fortunate," Pihl said. "We have been able to work with great people."

Tommy DeCarlo, who joined the band in 2008 in the wake of the death of original lead singer Brad Delp, is the lead vocalist. Scholz and Pihl will be on guitars with Scholz also playing keyboards.

"When you see those lists of the 100 greatest guitarists, Tom is always on it," Pihl said. "The unusual thing is that if you see a list of the 100 greatest keyboard players, Tom also is on that list. Not too many people can make that kind of list on two different instruments."

Curly Smith, who toured with Boston previously, returns to the lineup for this summer's tour. Two newcomers, Tracy Ferrie on bass, and guitarist David Victor, round out the touring act.

"All six of us can sing," Pihl said. "That really makes it nice."

The set list of the Kinder show will include many of the group's standards mixed "with some new songs and a couple of songs we haven't played in a while," Pihl said.

What older songs?

"Oh, I can't tell you that," Pihl said. "You'll have to come to the show to find out."

One thing you won't hear at a Boston show is any recorded music or sound effects.

"One of the things Tom insists on is that everything is performed live," Pihl said. "We find a way to create the sound on stage."

Source: The Town Talk

BOSTON: Touring gives the band 'peace of mind'

NY Rock Music Examiner
By Suzanne Rothberg

Get ready BOSTON fans! The band is gearing up for their U.S. summer tour which includes their one and only New York City area appearance at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, on July 22! The iconic classic rock band from the town of the same name has been a mainstay on classic rock radio with the tunes, 'More than a Feeling,' 'Peace of Mind' 'Rock And Roll Band, 'Smokin', 'Foreplay', 'Something About You' 'Amanda' and more. It seems you cannot go anywhere without hearing at least one song by BOSTON.

The lineup for White Plains is in this order: Tom Scholz lead and rhythm guitar, bass, keyboards, Gary Pihl, rhythm and lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, Tommy DeCarlo, lead vocals, keyboards, percussion, David Victor, guitar vocals, Tracy Ferrie bass guitar, Curly Smith, drums, percussion, harmonica, backing vocals. Their famous logo is the BOSTON spaceship.

NY Rock Music Examiner spoke with singer-guitarist David Victor about their upcoming tour and what keeps the band going. He's the newest member of the band from California.

Boston still delivers more than a feeling at tour opening concert in Hollywood

By Howard Cohen

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Calling a live album  live is often a misnomer in popular music. Almost all of the popular live albums  Frampton Comes Alive!, Eagles Live, Garth Brooks Double Live  were heavily doctored in the studio with overdubs, re-recorded instrumental parts and re-sung vocals to sound painstakingly close to the recorded versions.

Three songs into Boston s opening date of its 2012 tour at Hard Rock Live near Hollywood Thursday night, just after a flawless recreation of the 1978 classic rock staple Feelin Satisfied, the notion of having to resort to suchdeceptive trickery seemed unnecessary for musicians and sound engineers of this caliber. Boston s front-of-house sound was crystalline, full-bodied, warm and powerful, so close to perfect, one could suggest that all Boston has to do to craft its first killer live album right now is to get on stage and simply hit the record button.

Boston mastermind Tom Scholz, the group s founder, guitarist, keyboardist and primary songwriter, laughed backstage at that suggestion after the 105-minute concert.  They d hear all my mistakes, he quipped.

If there were any faults in the opening night s performance they mostly were reflected in the concert s haphazard video presentation. The large screen behind the band only sporadically flashed images, none of them particularly interesting, save a few shots of the distinctive Boston guitar spaceship logo.

The concert s pace in the latter third also flagged a bit with a three-part Third Stage combo of My Destination/New World/To Be a Man. Ditto the surprising inclusion of the mid-tempo Used to Bad News as the penultimate encore. The more rousing Don t Be Afraid, from the same Don t Look Back album, would have maintained the peak Boston had built by that point.

But these are minor quibbles. Boston, working as a six-piece with vets Scholz and guitarist/keyboardist Gary Pihl, now includes new co-vocalist/rhythm guitarist David Victor swapping leads with lead singer Tommy DeCarlo on Peace of Mind and Amanda. Muscular drummer Curly Smith, who has a long r

Rock man finds home in Boston

Gary Pihl is a man of opposites.

He s a guitarist and singer in Boston, part of July s Empire Rockfest concert series. But Pihl (pronounced  peel ) is hardly a stereotypical rock star. He got a steady gig because he didn t do drugs, while his work in Boston led to a steady 9-to-5 company job. Oh, and he s been married only once  to his highschool sweetheart.

On the phone from a Florida hotel room, Pihl doesn t sound road-weary, jaded or cocky. In fact, he sounds pretty average  and very content. And there s a reason. For starters, Boston is hardly ever on the road. The band s July 27 performance Empire Rockfest is the first date of a rare tour.

 (Founder) Tom Scholz likes to tour when we have a record out  which is why we haven t toured that often, says Pihl.  On average it s about once every four years.

 The band is not prolific, but we like to think it s quality above quantity, he says, laughing.  I personally love touring, he says, adding that he s so used to the songs that he can play without thinking; it gives him a chance to enjoy his time onstage.  It transcends the music for me.

Pihl grew up in Chicago before moving to the San Francisco area, where he was in several high school bands.

A fellow guitarist hooked him up with lessons from a guitarist in a band called The Warlocks. His name was Jerry Garcia, and his band was soon renamed The Grateful Dead. By 1977, Pihl and his bandmates at the time were acquaintances with singer Sammy Hagar and had played a few gigs with him.  He says,  Hey, Pihl, are you into drugs? I says,  No. He says,  Why don t you come down and jam with us? We lost our other guitarist.  Pihl and Hagar were touring with Boston between 1977 and 1979. When Hagar left to join Van Halen, Pihl walked into a job with Boston. He says he d been quizzing Boston founder Tom Scholz about various technical questions, such as how he produced certain guitar tones.  We immediately hit it off on that tech level.

When Scholz created Scholz Research and Development Inc. to build his own line of music gear, Pihl ended up with an offstage job. He appeared at trade shows and elsewhere, demonstrating the equipment and answering questions.

He and his wife met at age 16 and dated until their marriage 10 years later. They have two sons, ages 27 and 30. Pihl said his technical job s routine was good for his family.

 It was kind of a grounding element for them: no matter how big a rock star you are, you still have a day job and go to work.  I thought it was nice that the kids saw this, that it s not just sex, drugs and rock and roll. But the rock and roll thing still works for him.

Pihl says the band is used to seeing several generations of fans in the crowd, but there s a classic-rock revival happening, thanks in part to older tunes being used in video games.

 All of a sudden we re seeing teenagers on their own, not just being dragged there by their parents.  They like the music because they found it themselves. Who would have thought that would have happened? Pihl says the fans enthusiasm makes it easy to play the same songs night after night.  If I had to play the same songs, no matter what songs they are, every day in my livingroom, then yeah, that would be boring.  All you ve got to do is look down in the audience and see people smiling and singing along with us, he says.  There s nothing like that.

" Visit or call 613-969-0099 ext. 1 for details and tickets.


Boston - Seminole Hard Rock Live, Hollywood - June 28

Seminole Hard Rock Live, Hollywood
Thursday, June 28, 2012

Better than:
The computerized arena pop of today

Though no longer playing arenas, like in their 1970s heyday, Boston still played at a volume loud enough to feel as if it were playing in a mega huge stadium last night. The practically sold out show at the Seminole Hard Rock Live began while some of the audience was still filing in. With the announcement of "Ladies and gentlemen... Just another band out of Boston," the sound of Tom Scholz' distinctively grandiose electric guitar filled the Seminole Hard Rock Live. Soon, drummer Curly Smith joined in, pounding away at his massive kit with the famous Boston logo emblazoned on two bass drums, not to mention the hard-to-miss gong behind him.

The bombast was supplemented by bassist Tracy Ferrie, longtime guitarist Gary Pihl, and the band's newest member David Victor, also on guitar. Singer Tommy DeCarlo came out stalking the stage, and the band kicked off the set with "Rock & Roll Band" off their chart-topping 1976 self-titled debut.

Sporting a graying beard, DeCarlo sang with expected quality, echoing the breathy tenor of Brad Delp, with perfect ebony porn inflection. Delp had been the band's singer throughout Boston's entire recording history, through 2002's Corporate America. He committed suicide in 2007. DeCarlo, a longtime fan, shared his MySpace page of Boston cover songs with Scholz, the band's founder and songwriter. Scholz clearly found a fitting and passionate replacement in DeCarlo, whose big voice not only kept up with the band throughout the night, but could also maneuvered all of Delp's distinctive nuances.

This marked the first date of the band's US summer tour. I came to the show with a cynical attitude, as I never cared for Boston's music and arena rock in general. It's the least subtle sort of rock ever conceived that relishes technique over soul. Fittingly, Scholz began as an engineer and practically invented his own immaculate style of recording that shines of gloss and perfection (in his basement!). But even though all of the band's albums sound the same, there is also a purity to it, and one cannot help but love the sincerity of it all. Boston is a very literal band. It was made for the large live venue, with lyrics like "Come on, put your hands together" in its songs.

In one of the night's showier moments, toward the end of the show, Scholz went over to a bank of synthesizers facing the side of the drum kit. Stacked with four layers of keyboards, he indulged in a lengthy instrumental section. He played the keys rapid-fire style, and a smoke machine started billowing clouds up through the instruments. Above the drum kit, three screens revealed different angles of Scholz' virtuosity. He twiddled a wheel at the end of a keyboard, imitating the sound of a siren.

Though the band indulged us in an instrumental session toward the end, it did not forget its hits and spread them out nicely throughout the set, including "More Than a Feeling" and "Long Time." Victor introduced a few songs into the show, just before "Amanda," for which he sang the lead vocals. Though it's one of the band's slower songs, the show did not get any quieter. The two acoustic guitars rambled with a metallic, piercing quality, and sounded high and trebly. The dynamics in Boston ranges from fast to slow but never soft and loud. Sometimes all those guitars sounded like a chorus of angry angels. Throughout the show there were five or six moments of accidental piercing feedback. Though I heard murmurings in the crowd it was all a muffled blur. Even after the show, as we walked out with the herd, it felt as though an explosion had gone off, and I could only hear things as if I were wearing earmuffs.

Critic's Notebook

The Crowd: Stuck in the seventies (saw more than a few mullets)

Personal bias:
I have nostalgia for my elementary school years (the late seventies)

Celebrity sighting: Channel 7 News sports reporter Mike DiPasquale

Setlist (Note: I missed jotting down three songs during the show, so the setlist is not complete. Fill in the blanks, Boston fans!)

Rock & Roll Band
Feelin' Satisfied
It's Easy
Surrender To Me
Don't Look Back
Something About You
More Than A Feeling
The Launch
Cool the Engines
My Destination
A New World
To Be A Man
instrumental keys
Walk On
Foreplay/Long Time

It's a party

Photos: Sayre Berman