On May 18, 2022

Rockin the Region with Ray Boston

By DJ Dave Hoffenberg

Don’t miss the debut of Ray Boston at The Foundry this Friday, May 20 at 6 p.m. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Boston at the Killington block parties the past few years. He plays such a wide mix of songs, there’s something for everyone. I just saw him play at Still on the Mountain, the Killington Distillery, and it was a great show. He had this young millennials group there from Puerto Rico and they were really enjoying the show — he is good at reading the crowd and making sure everyone is happy. He surprised me when he played “Feliz Navidad” for them, since it was April, but we all enjoyed it. He’ll be back at the Still on Sunday May 29 6 p.m.

For Ray Boston, it was his guitar that lured him to play professionally — a calling he’s answered since the end of college.

In Billy Joel’s “The Piano Man,” the lyrics are: “It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday and the manager gives me a smile.” Those words rang true because it was a good crowd, it was a Saturday and Boston said the manager had a smile all night. The only difference is Boston is the guitar man but he does it like Billy Joel. Boston said the night was a blast.

Ray Boston started playing music his junior year with his brother John in Misty Souls, a high school band and they would play the dances in the area every Friday and Saturday night. Growing up, he liked the sound of Linda Ronstadt, Warren Zevon and The Beatles.

Boston grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts and went to college at Northeastern. He said, “When I went to college, I put the guitar in the closet because I knew if I took it out I would leave college and go have fun.”

About a month before graduation, he took the guitar out of the closet, headed to Cape Cod for the summer then up here and that’s when he started playing full-time.

He started at Snowshed Lodge at Killington and did it for about three years. He said, “The first year they told me to end at 3 but the crowd was still there so I played ‘til 4. The next year I played ‘til 5 and the next ‘til 6. It was great.”

Boston started doing college shows and that’s where he really made a name for himself. He’s played all over the country. He said when they release the bracket for the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, he’s probably played 80% of those schools.

“It was a lot of fun and they liked what I did. I played from here to there and back again,” he said.

He was traveling a lot and driving all over the place so he decided to learn how to fly, figuring it would be easier. The first time was in a two-seater plane. They flew around a bit and right after they touched down, Boston threw up.

“The pilot said I guess you’re not going to be doing this and I said oh ya, I’m going to be doing this,” he remembered. He was making decent money with the college shows which allowed him to afford lessons. By the end of the year, he had his pilot’s license, his instrument rating and his twin engine rating. He bought a small Piper Aztec plane and for the next five years he flew solo to his shows across the country.

He put together this big production Beach Party for some college shows. There were pools, umbrellas, sand. He played from a lifeguard chair. There would be 1,200-1,500 students at each show. Besides the kids, he made activity directors quite happy.

“It went on for a while and it was a blast,” he said.

He also took that style to the Air Force Academy.

Boston described the criteria he uses for the songs he plays. “The key to whatever I did was first I had to like the song. Second of all it had to be something I could engage the crowd with. I wouldn’t learn a song if I didn’t think there was something in that song that I could pull out and if the crowd was for it, I could engage them with. If not, I’d let it slide and continue with the next song. There was never a stop. It went one song after another. It was a party. If I broke a string, I did not stop. When I did, I would sing, “Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ” while I was changing the string and tuning it up. OK I’m done and I’d go right back to where we were. It was wild.”

He played out at Babe’s Bar in Bethel recently and the bar was filled with 20-somethings and they were singing along to his “oldies” and dancing. He said it’s a cool place. “I’m not great, obviously, or I’d be in Vegas. I do what I do, I have a great time doing it and it works,” he said humbly.

Sometimes when he was playing at a college, he’d tell the students, “I’m not going to play any current music. I like to play the stuff I like. I’m going to have a great time tonight and if you want to come along for the ride, you’re welcome to it.” By the third song, they’d be singing along, he said.

Boston was nominated for “Entertainer of the Year” twice playing the college circuit.

He plays guitar as is. No looping, no reverb. He also doesn’t make a song list. He said, “I have no idea what I’m going to play until I step up there.”

It definitely works because he’s produced a great sound with great songs I know you’ll enjoy. Boston has a tipping policy that goes both ways. He said, “If you like a song, put a tip in. If you don’t like it, take some money out, have yourself a beer and maybe I’ll sound better and you’ll put the tip back in.”

But he said the best part about playing is it energizes you. “If you’re feeling crummy, you get on that stage and you feel good. When you’re done, there’s a little euphoria left over and you still feel good. I knew that immediately in high school and that’s why I had to hide the guitar through college. When I took it out, I thought I could make a living doing this. I said this is it, I’m done. There was just that great feeling of relief that you know what you’re going to do for the rest of your life.”

You can hear samples of Boston’s music at: rayboston.com.

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