By Jon Brown
The Idaho Statesman

Tom Scholz and his band Boston have had a lot of labels hung on them over the years: Ground-breaking, unique, eccentric, slow.

But there is probably one description that no one has ever dreamed of using to describe the rock band that rose in the 1970s on the power of vocal and guitar harmonies.Good-smelling?

"The whole band smells much better because of her," Scholz said, referring to Kimberly Dahme, the third bass player -- and first woman -- the band's lineup has known.

So now the band is as easy on the nose as many fans find it easy on the ears?

"The most exciting new member is Kimmy," Scholz says. "We have a girl in the band, and not just any girl. She's a babe. She's a knockout. She's incredibly talented and plays several instruments.

"Not only is she an incredible addition to the band because of her talent, but I think the guys have discovered showers since she's joined the band."

Dahme is one of three new members in the lineup for Boston's first tour since 1997. The band, new fragrance and new material from their "Corporate America" CD in tow, hits the Idaho Center amphitheater stage at 8 tonight.

"We're basically a garage band that gets to come out and see the light of day every five or six years," Scholz said.

With three new bandmates, it has to be a pretty good-sized garage. Joining Dahme, who wrote and sang as well as played bass and guitar on "Corporate America," are new faces Anthony Cosmo on guitar and Jeff Neal on drums.

Dahme and Cosmo have been with the band for a while, actually, but fans are getting their first lengthy look at them this summer. The pair appeared with Scholz, lead singers/guitarists Fran Cosmo (Anthony's father) and Brad Delp, and guitarist Gary Pihl at the 2002 Fiesta Bowl when Boston performed Scholz's version of "The Star Spangled Banner."

Of the three, Neal is the one who has been with the band the shortest amount of time. He didn't play on the "Corporate America" CD, which was released in November, and he doesn't have a pedigree like Anthony Cosmo, whose father has been connected to either Scholz or Delp for more than 20 years.

"I found him up in Maine playing in a ski lodge," Scholz said. "He's a high school history teacher, and he coaches a soccer team."

So that's what happens when rock 'n' rollers grow up.

The addition of Cosmo and Dahme prior to the release of "Corporate America" seemingly has infused some new creativity to the Boston sound. Scholz has mined some of the memories of the debut album with hand-claps and harmonies on songs like "I Had a Good Time," "Someone," and "Didn't Mean to Fall in Love," but Dahme brings a soft side to the band on "With You," while Anthony Cosmo penned a social commentary that has an un-Boston-like edge to it with "Turn it Off."

"With You" also brings something to the band that hasn't been seen in quite some time. Speed.

"She played and sang it once (in the studio), and that's the song you hear on the CD," Scholz said.

Not bad, considering Scholz is so meticulous that it had been eight years between Boston releases that feature all-new material.

"Walk On" was released in 1994 sans Delp's unmistakable voice, and — save for a "Greatest Hits" release in 1997 — the band wasn't" heard from again until "Corporate America" hit stores last fall. In fact, "Corporate America" is the first Boston release with all-new material featuring Delp's vocals since the 1986 release of "Third Stage."

Scholz doesn't apologize for the years between releases.

"My goal is to get the best out of something that I'm working on and get the best out of the people who are working on it," Scholz said. "Boston songs represent the very best effort we can do in the studio, and when we go out on tour, it represents the best those people can do on stage." Scholz has been very protective of his music for years. It landed him in court around the time of 1978's second release "Don't Look Back" — an album Scholz contends still isn't complete.

Scholz is rabid about control of his music. But he's also conscious of the fact that when people hear Boston, they immediately think of "More Than a Feeling" and the '70s. Even before "Corporate America" was released by Artemis Records, Scholz sneaked out the title track for public consumption under the pseudonym Downer's Revenge. "Corporate America" hit the Internet on mp3 sites, and Scholz said the song went to No. 1 in five days.

"The decision was to put it out under a different name because I didn't want any preconceived notions with the name Boston attached," he said, adding that Artemis executives weren't all that thrilled about the advance release.

That's Scholz. Doing it his way. Eight years between releases, only the best takes of each song (he says there are four or five complete versions of "I Had a Good Time," including one with a Spanish verse) and always the Boston sound, whether he wants it or not.

"The more I tried to do something different, it just automatically happens, and it just sounds like Boston," he said.

The nurturing of the music is probably one of the reasons there haven't been any live CDs or DVDs released. There is one live track on an official release: "Livin' For You," which is on the "Corporate America" CD.

"There is a good chance of a live album in the future," Scholz said. "There's just an enormous backlog of live recordings. I had a lot more interest in recording the songs for the album than going through the live stuff."

Scholz tries to stay in the present with his new material. The "Corporate America" title track, for example, rails on the excess and neglect that has spawned the ozone crisis and the Enron debacle. Invariably, though, fans will want to hear the old songs.

There have been about six songs from "Corporate America" on the set list to serve as a backbone of the 2 1/2 -hour show this summer. The list includes everything from "More Than a Feeling" off the 1976 debut release to the title-track medley from 1994's "Walk On."

But there will be some disappointments, Scholz says.

"With an evening with Boston, we have so much to do that the hardest part is figuring out what we're going to throw away," he said. Still, considering that Boston has never played Idaho (they hit Park City, Utah, eight years ago tonight in 1995 and The Gorge in Washington in 1997), life should be good for the fans of the band that burst on the scene 27 years ago.

"The big favorite Boston hits will be covered and the old favorites," Scholz said. "There will be a lot of songs from "Corporate America" and different arrangements and segues and pieces that don't exist anywhere else."

And there will be the obligatory pipe-organ performance.

"It's quite fun and very exciting, I think," Scholz said. "We have to wear hard hats, if that gives you any indication of what it is."