By Mark Bialczak
Syracuse The Post-Standard

Back in the mid-'70s, Fran Cosmo used to be a Boston fan.

When songs like "More Than a Feeling" and "Long Time" were making rock fans take notice of the work of singer Brad Delp and guitarist/keyboardist Tom Scholz, Utica native Cosmo dug the new style of rock.

"I did like Boston," Cosmo says the other day from his hotel room in Branson, Mo. "I thought they had a really good, strong, fun, melodic sound. A different sound. Tom did a great job of producing that album."

Cosmo's still a big fan of Scholz and Delp.

The difference:When Boston comes to the New York State Fair Grandstand on Saturday, Cosmo will be singing alongside Delp and Scholz.

Scholz is still the production wizard, a man with the technical edge displayed on Boston's five studio albums. Delp's back at the microphone. After taking a break that included the making of the fourth album, "Walk On," in 1994, he returned to the band in 1997. So he and his replacement, Cosmo, teamed for vocals on last year's album, "Corporate America."

"The good thing about the new record, me and Brad are singing together and sharing the vocals," says Cosmo. "Live, we just kind of work it out, take the parts according to what's most comfortable. People love it. They can't tell who's singing. They think it's crazy we can sound so alike."

There's another guitarist important to Cosmo onstage with Boston, too. His son, Anthony, 26, has followed his father to the band. This will be the younger Cosmo's first tour with Boston.

But three songswritten by Anthony, "Stare Out the Window," "Turn It Off" and "Cryin'," were included on "Corporate America." That's one way the band has tried to be fresher than just a classic rock act, Fran Cosmo says.

"I think if we do another record, I believe we'll be moving even more to another sound," he says. "It's kind of, sort of, toward something new. We can be competitive."

Anthony's contribution can come off the stage and out of the studio, too. One of his talents is cooking; his specialty is Italian cuisine. (The family surname is actually Migliaccio.) At one point during the tour, Anthony whipped up eggplant parmigiana for the whole traveling party.

It all makes the graduate of Utica Free Academy (he won't say what year) happy that Scholz sought him out from the band Orion the Hunter for an audition in the mid-1990s. "They decided to try me. I got the gig. The rest is history," Cosmo says.

He figures it'll be a big party at the grandstand, with plenty of friends and family making the trip from Utica.

"It's great.I loved it (in 1997). What a nice response from the people Upstate," Cosmo says. "They had Cosmo signs. And that was one of the best shows of that whole tour."
He says that maybe he'll even be able to sneak away for a little time in his home "on the
mountain" in Marcy.

Regardless, he'll be ready to sing the Boston songs old and new.

"I like 'Don't Look Back.' I think that's been an underestimated song. I like 'Party.' That's a great up-tempo party song," he says.