By Ken Kelley
The Music Nerd Chronicles
With more than 20 million records sold and an arsenal of hits including classic rock radio staples like "More Than A Feeling," "Smokin'" and "Amanda," Boston's place in the annals of music history was secured long ago.
Nonetheless, it remains an exciting place Boston vocalist Tommy DeCarlo to find himself. If you've ever doubted the legitimacy of the famed "Cinderella Story," DeCarlo is living proof that sometimes, dreams do come true.
Sadly, DeCarlo's involvement with Boston arose from unfortunate circumstances. In early 2007, the group lost their original vocalist when Brad Delp tragically passed away. It was DeCarlo's creativity and obvious talent that would eventually help him find his way to Boston leader Tom Scholz.
"When Brad passed away in 2007, me and every other Boston fan was just gutted by the loss," DeCarlo explains. "Some of my favourite songs to sing were Boston songs, and so I decided to post a couple of tracks on Myspace as a tribute to Brad.
"A short while later, I was contacted by a Myspace user that suggested I send me links of me singing these songs to the band. I knew that the band was going to be hosting a tribute show to Brad, so I positioned by initial note to the Boston camp as an offer to sing a couple of songs if they happened to be looking for a vocalist."
DeCarlo says that, much to his pleasant surprise, Boston's management team reached out to him, kindly thanking him for his offer, but ultimately let him know that the tribute show wasn't necessarily looking to add any additional performers.
With a little reluctant persistence on his part, his fortunes would change just a couple of weeks later.
"I happened to get word that a couple of the performers who had been slated to play the Brad Delp tribute show had to pull out due to scheduling conflicts. I was hesitant about reaching out to the Boston management team again. In fact, I came within a split second of not emailing them, but ultimately, I just sent them a brief note that said I was still available if they needed me for the show."
Imagine DeCarlo's surprise when the next person he heard from was Boston guitarist Tom Scholz, who subsequently invited him to perform at the tribute show.
"Going into the tribute show, I had this funny feeling that if I sang well, maybe it could turn into something more. I thought it was very unlikely though and was just grateful to have been given the opportunity to sing at the tribute.
"I was getting ready to go back to the hotel at the end of the night when Tom approached me and just said that he would be in touch. It was just a few days later that he called me at home and asked if I'd be interested in going on tour with the group," DeCarlo recalls.
What is perhaps arguably more remarkable about DeCarlo's journey is the fact that, prior to Boston, he had never performed live. Prior to joining the band, DeCarlo had been working at a Home Depot in North Carolina, and simply sang for his own enjoyment.
Asked if he found the experience daunting, to go from his former career to suddenly being the centre of attention each night, playing before thousands of fans, DeCarlo says it wasn't quite as intimidating as it could have been.
"The whole transition, to go from working at Home Depot to singing for Boston, was a little challenging. Then again, however, the only band I ever sang with live was Boston, which ended up making the experience a little easier, if only because I didn't have anything to compare it to and potentially be overwhelmed."
DeCarlo credits the entire band and crew for helping make him feel at home both on and off stage over the course of the last seven years.
He admits, however, that his joining the group hasn't been an easy pill for all Boston fans to swallow.
"I realize that bringing in a new vocalist into a group as legendary and as established as Boston is going to ruffle the feathers of some. Some Boston fans are so hardcore into the group that it wouldn't matter who you had singing for the band, they simply aren't going to accept it," DeCarlo acknowledges.
"After the first tour I did with the band, I read some pretty harsh criticism of my performances online, but if I looked at it from the point of view of a fan whose favourite rock and roll singer is no longer there, I can kind of understand where they are coming from. All that being said, I've also had the pleasure of reading some rather complimentary feedback as well. That's the way I have to look at it: I've been given such an incredible opportunity to sing for Boston; the good is always going to outweigh the bad."
When: Sunday July 12, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Tickets start at $99.99 (plus taxes and service charges). Advance tickets are available at the Casino Gift Shop, by phone at 1-866-943-8849 and online at casinonb.ca.