By Linda Tuccio-Koonz
When Tommy DeCarlo was a teen, he was into sports and music. He especially enjoyed the band Boston, and always sang along when its songs came on the radio.
His vocal abilities and love for the band eventually helped lead him from working at a Home Depot to singing lead vocals for Boston -- a role he's filled since 2008.
DeCarlo, who also plays keyboard and percussion, will perform with the band at Mohegan Sun Arena on Thursday, Aug. 13. He said he doesn't think of himself as a rock star at all, but feels he is "among rock stars" and considers himself "very fortunate."
Boston has seven albums, with such hits as "More Than a Feeling" and "Peace of Mind." It was DeCarlo's online renditions of "Don't Look Back" and "Smokin'" that got him noticed when the band was planning a concert to honor Brad Delp, who had been the frontman. Delp committed suicide in 2007.
A Boston fan who was familiar with DeCarlo's singing from Myspace heard about the tribute concert and encouraged him to send a link to Boston. He did and also offered to sing a song there, a song he'd written in honor of Delp.
At first, he received a note thanking him for his offer, but also saying the group wasn't adding anyone new to the lineup. Later, after sending a second query, he learned founding member Tom Scholz had heard his covers and wanted him to come and sing at the tribute.
DeCarlo grew up in Utica, N.Y., and lives in Charlotte, N.C. When not on tour, he records and plays with his son in the Charlotte-based band DeCarlo. He shared more of his unlikely rise to rockdom in a recent interview:
Q: Your story is so intriguing. So the woman who encouraged you to contact Boston was a complete stranger?
A: She heads up the Boston fan site called Boston Rocks!!!; it's a Yahoo group. I had no clue how to contact them, but she sent me an email address for the band. She's friends with Tom Scholz's wife, Kim, and now she's my friend, too. I'm super thankful she reached out. It would never have happened otherwise.
Q: What made you send a second query?
A: I heard some people weren't going to be able to perform in the tribute concert. I was looking at the lawn that needed to be cut and I said, "Do I send another email, which they'll probably never read, or do I cut the lawn?" I took two seconds and sent it. I came so close to not sending it. Then I cut the lawn.
Q: What was your life like then and how is it now?
A: I was a married father of two, and I was 42. Now I'm 50. It's incredible. I find it hard to believe every night when we take the stage. When I'm home I don't think about it too much because I'm doing other things (with my family). But on stage there really isn't a show that goes by where I don't look and see Tom Scholz and think, "I can't believe I'm standing here now."
Q: What will the Mohegan Sun show be like?
A: Fans will get to hear the rock 'n' roll music of Boston that they remember (and newer songs, too). One thing the fans really respond to, of course, is Tom and the music he wrote all those years ago that's still rockin' the radio waves today.