By Hector Saldaña
Express-News Staff Writer

He was the distinctive, high-sailing voice behind Boston's biggest hits — "More Than a Feeling," "Hitch a Ride," "Peace of Mind," "Smokin'," "Rock 'n' Roll Band," "Don't Look Back" and "Amanda."

So when Brad Delp committed suicide in 2007, it was a seismic shock to band mates and fans.

That Boston founder Tom Scholz has come up with a novel way to pay tribute to Delp — he's hired two singers (Stryper's Michael Sweet and complete unknown karaoke singer Tommy DeCarlo) — helps ease the pain somewhat.

Boston plays Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Saturday with Styx and Smash Mouth.

"Nobody's trying to be Brad, or replacing Brad or anything," Sweet told the Flint Journal of Michigan.

It's all about accentuating the positive.

"We're going out there and carrying on the incredible music and trying to have as good a time as we can doing so," Sweet said. "Having fun and encouraging one another. So far it's been a great journey."

DeCarlo, a Home Depot credit manager on leave from his day job, takes the higher-register songs like "Smokin'" and "Don't Look Back." Sweet shines on "More Than a Feeling" and "Amanda."

DeCarlo's discovery is out of the movies.

In his grief over Delp's death, karaoke singer DeCarlo posted a tribute song on "A Man I'll Always Be" is an answer of sorts to Boston's "A Man I'll Never Be."

"I thought I'd like to share it with other Boston fans," DeCarlo said from a Baton Rouge tour stop. Scholz's wife stumbled upon it and turned on her husband. The amateur singer was quickly invited to sing at a tribute show in August 2007.

"Smokin'" was the first song they rehearsed.

"It was awesome. It was hard to believe," said DeCarlo, who admits he's still a bit starstruck. "When the music started behind me, I was thinking, 'This ain't karaoke. This is for real. It's wicked.'"

As with AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd, it's a delicate dance for bands to carry on after tragically losing lead singers.

"To some extent, it's hard for the fans to get used to somebody new, especially an unknown," DeCarlo acknowledged. "But they have been very receptive. They know, as well as we know, there will never be another Brad Delp."

He has been a Boston fan since he was 12. "It never was my intention to go out and sound like Brad Delp. I just sang and however it came out, it came out," said DeCarlo, who has used a voice coach since hooking up with the band.

Was there any time for a rock 'n' roll boot camp? "The rock 'n' roll boot camp was the first four shows that we've done so far," he said.

Delp was never a flashy singer, which is a relief for DeCarlo.

"That works good for me. It's not like I have to go up there and follow a David Lee Roth act."