By Eloise Marie Valadez
The Times of Northwest Indiana

It'll be a bit like a homecoming celebration for Gary Pihl when Boston brings its show to The Venue at Hammond's Horseshoe Casino next week.

Pihl, a native of Illinois, who formerly lived in the Chicago suburbs Park Forest, Mt. Prospect and Park Ridge, said he's looking forward to rolling out the hits for region music fans during the Boston concert 8 p.m. Aug. 2 at The Venue.

"The shows have been terrific," he said, of the summer tour. "We've been having a great time."

The musician, who has been involved in all aspects of the band's operation, has worked with Boston for the last three decades. He initially befriended Boston founder Tom Scholz in the late '70s and was asked to work with him in the capacity of vice president of Scholz Research and Development, where he helped in building Scholz' innovative studio.

"I wear a lot of hats," said Pihl, who shares lead guitar duties in concert with guitarist/keyboardist Scholz. In addition to all his technical musical knowledge and skills, Pihl also works behind the scenes with the band's website design.

"It's a funny thing. Everything I learned in school, I'm using now," he said.

A music fan all his life, Pihl has had experience with various bands throughout his life. In the late '70s, he was also a member of Sammy Hagar's band.

"I just loved the sound of all kinds of music. I loved it all. And Top 40 radio was part of the culture when I was growing up," he said.

When he lived in the Chicago area, he said he remembered listening to WLS radio, the AM station that played all the hits.

He said being a part of Boston has been a rewarding experience. Pihl remembers being almost mesmerized by the band's sound in the early days.

"I can still remember the first time I heard the song 'More Than A Feeling,'" he said.

Pihl said Boston's show at The Venue will feature all the hits including "Don't Look Back," "Peace of Mind" and "Amanda."

He said audiences for their recent concerts have included a mix of ages.

"Some of Boston's songs are being used in video games now and we're seeing younger people at the concerts. We look out into the audience and see young and old."

For Pihl, bringing the music to the masses in a live setting has been quite enjoyable.

"It's so nice to look out in the audience and see people singing along," he said.