By Jeremy D. Bonfiglio
NEW BUFFALO, Mich. -- On Aug. 25, 1976, Boston released its debut album.
Anchored by the hit singles "More Than a Feeling," "Long Time" and "Peace of Mind," the record sold more than 17 million copies. It still ranks as one of the best-selling debut albums in U.S. history. The self-titled album peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and remained on the charts for 132 weeks.
The latest incarnation of Boston, which is still led by original guitarist and songwriter Tom Scholz, is celebrating the 40th anniversary of that release with a tour that stops Saturday at Four Winds Casino Resort's Silver Creek Event Center.
Centered on Scholz, the band is a staple of classic rock radio playlists, releasing a total of six albums with other notable songs, including "Rock and Roll Band," "Smokin'" "Don't Look Back" and "Amanda." Brad Delp, the original lead singer of the band, died in 2007, and the band has feature 20 different members since its heyday.
In addition to Scholz, the current band includes long-time Boston member Gary Pihl (guitars), who joined the band in 1985 and first appeared on the "Third Stage" album; Curly Smith (drums); Jeff Neal (drums); Tommy DeCarlo (lead vocals, keyboards); Beth Cohen (keyboards, vocals), and Elkhart, Ind., native Tracy Ferrie (bass), who spoke about the show by phone from Nashville.
Q First of all, this is the 40th anniversary tour, so what's the set list been looking like lately and what can we expect to hear when the band comes to town?
A It's mostly the hits with some segues of basically orchestrated music that Tom Scholz has put together for the band. We've been rehearsing everything, and one thing that's special about this band is there is not a lot of down time. In fact, there's no down time. From the moment we step on stage there's lights and music and entertainment until the last crescendo of the night.
We're celebrating the 40th anniversary of the band, and not just the first record, so you are going to hear all the hits. Of course that includes many songs from the first record, which is such a classic album. Song for song every one of those songs on that record have been a hit in one form or another. The production is stellar. It's rock and roll, but it's very melodic. There's tons of harmonies and performed vocals on the record so how could it not do well?
Q I know you've been a life-long musician, but how did you end up in this band?
A I actually met Tom at the Station Night Club benefit concert in Rhode Island in 2012. I think he heard me play one song. Then I get a call from him one night asking me if I'd like to do the tour, and I said sure. I mean what else am I going to say. It was one of these situations where it wasn't even an audition. Tom needed someone who was a quick study and ready to go, and I had about two weeks to learn all the material. And that was that.
For me it all goes back to this wonderful equation a producer gave me one time. He said preparation and opportunity equals success. People can get an opportunity and not be prepared and can blow a great chance. You could also be the best player in the whole world and never get out of your basement. That opportunity needs to be there. So for me that meant that you want to be prepared and be as diverse a musician as possible. I took that advice to heart and it helped me land this job.
Q Now I read somewhere that as a child you were a roller skating champ. Is that true?
A Yeah, my parents actually owned a roller skating rink on Mishawaka Road in the Elkhart, Ind. area, so I know that area in Southwest Michigan pretty well. My parents put skates on me around 18 months old, or so the story goes, and my dad was a roller skating coach and got me involved very early in life. I learned figure skating and competed and went on to be a national roller skating champion at a young age.
Q How did you go from roller skating champion to musician?
A When you're kind of pushed into something that your parents are so passionate about there's a side of you that wants to find something unique about yourself that's not your parents dream. For me, that was music. There is no musical talent in my family. I was the only guy who had an interest in it and pursued it and went to school for it. I was handed a tuba back in grade school and that was my instrument and I caught on with the guitar around the same time. It was a very easy transition. My band instructor encouraged me to play the upright bass, and in high school there was a need for the electric bass and I was on board very quickly. I went to the Berklee School of Music and to California and New York and landed in Nashville where I became a session guy and toured with a number of bands.
Q I heard that there's a bus load of friends and family coming from Elkhart to see this show. Is that true? That's got to make it pretty special.
A It is. These are people I grew up with, was in the school band with, and people who saw my interest and excitement for music. So for them to get a chance to come see me in my element with a band like Boston and hear us play all the hits we all grew up on is really special. I look forward to seeing lots of familiar faces out there. It's going to be like a hometown show for me.
When: 9 p.m. EDT Saturday
Where: Four Winds Casino Resort's Silver Creek Event Center, 11111 Wilson Road, New Buffalo, Mich.
How much: $95-$125
Contact: 866-494-6371 or www.fourwindscasino.com
Artist info: bandboston.com