To hear Ernie Boch Jr. talk – with a Boston accent and plenty of friendly colloquialisms – you’re reminded more of someone you could sit and have a beer with over the Red Sox game than a megamusical philanthropist
Ernie grew up in Norwood, Massachusetts, son of a successful local auto dealer. His father, Ernie Boch Sr., was somewhat of a local celebrity, known for his colorful commercials advertising the family chain of dealerships. Though the younger Ernie did eventually follow his father’s footsteps in the automotive business, he also nurtured a love of music that led him to play in numerous high school and college bands, culminating with Ernie attending the highly esteemed Berklee School of Music. It was through this combination of business acumen and his love of music that provided the impetus for Ernie pursuing the philanthropic side of the musical world.
In the Community: Music Drives Us
Like most people, Ernie Boch had never really planned on directing a charitable foundation – the opportunity simply seemed to present itself at the right time, and his love of music took over. It began with a chance meeting with John Sykes, one of the architects of MTV. Ernie’s original interest was in working with VH1’s Save the Music foundation, a national program dedicated to restoring instrumental music education in America’s public schools. After some preliminary discussions with the organization, Ernie decided to act on a more regional level, starting his own foundation entitled Music Drives Us – a clever reference to the successful business empire, which enabled him to realize the project.
“I didn’t want to raise any money until I proved this was a worthwhile thing,” Ernie recounts. Rather than relying on contributions to start his project, Ernie was willing to put $2 million of his own funds into the venture. Soon after establishing the organization’s funding, Ernie began producing PSAs to get the word out about Music Drives Us, and community groups rapidly began submitting grants. Since its inception, according to Ernie, Music Drives Us has given out hundreds of thousands of dollars to support various music initiatives. The foundation’s board meets once per quarter to distribute money to worthy causes. “Last round, 91 people applied for grants,” Ernie stated proudly.
|“To The Automatics are essentially a blues band with a rock n’ roll edge, able to move from jump blues to shuffles to cool Southern rock at any point in a set.”|
Music Drives Us breaks their grants down into four categories: providing musical instruments to community groups, grants for live performances, organizational grants for musical education facilities and individual scholarships to outstanding musicians who want to continue their education through camps, programs and colleges. In a unique twist aimed at perpetuating the cycle of education, the scholarship requires recipients to devote a specific amount of time each month parlaying their knowledge to a younger generation of musicians.
One example of Music Drives Us’ efforts to promote music in the public realm was in providing a $10,000 grant for advertising and publicity to the Boston Blues Foundation – an organization that aims to keep the blues culture and spirit alive through free Boston-area concerts – specifically to support efforts to bring younger people into the blues scene. Ernie is quick to point out that the grants aren’t limited to non-profit organizations, but merely worthy endeavors. “It’s the public and private sector. If someone comes up with a great musical idea and the board thinks it’s a good idea, we’re gonna give them the dough.” Music Drives Us also doesn’t limit their philanthropy to rock and blues. One such example is the Boston City Singers, an ensemble of young people from a variety of ages and backgrounds who meet weekly to rehearse choral arrangements of both traditional and popular songs. They recently received a $7,000 grant to facilitate music lessons and community concerts. “The Boston City Singers is an amazing group of kids,” Ernie says. “They meet once a week and it keeps kids off the streets.”
On Stage: Ernie and the Automatics
All of this is in part supported by Ernie’s personal love of music, and the band he has assembled, Ernie and the Automatics. For the Automatics, Ernie drew from some of Boston’s most successful musicians. “I’ve got two retired rock stars, and two professional guys that play all the time,” said Ernie. The band features the musical talents of Sib Hashian and Barry Goudreau – both former members of Boston – along with Tim Archibald and Brian Maes who had played with Barry in the post-Boston project, RTZ.
The Automatics are essentially a blues band with a rock n’ roll edge, able to move from jump blues to shuffles to cool Southern rock at any point in a set. The music largely centers on the guitar interplay between Ernie and Barry, resulting in a dynamic sound. When Ernie plays, his enjoyment of the music shines through with his raw Tele tone and bluesy note choice; Barry’s guitar often stands in sharp contrast, with a more “uptown” feel and a deep, thick tone that never gives up its identity as a Stratocaster. This mixture has led Ernie and the Automatics to build a following in the Boston area – “We’ve got a little buzz going on,” Ernie reveals.
Much like his foundation, forming a band was never Ernie’s intention. The band initially originated from his burgeoning friendship with Sib. “Through some people, I met Sib Hashian, the original drummer from the band, Boston. I talked to him and helped him out with a play he was doing, and we quickly became friends,” Ernie recalls. When Sib realized that Ernie played guitar, he kept after him to set up a jam, despite Ernie’s reluctance. After some time, he finally acquiesced and agreed to meet Sib for a jam session.
Ernie recounts the story: “So I show up at this place, and discover that this is not just a place where you sit in – this is a $250 a ticket major fundraising event for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism. The place is packed, and I say to Sib, ‘What did you get me into?’ He told me not to worry about it, so I went to tune up with the band. The only person on stage that I knew was the sax player, from a couple of events around town. Realize that I hadn’t played out in probably 15 years; at that point, I was beginning to get really nervous.
“The leader of the house band came over and asked me what I wanted to play. ‘How about a blues,’ I said, and we agreed on Mustang Sally, in the key of C. The plan was to come up for the third tune. I made Sib agree to come up with me, but halfway through the second tune, he took off for the bathroom. When the third song started, Sib still wasn’t there, and the guitarist called me up. I told him I couldn’t go up there, and when Sib returned, he asked me what I was doing just standing there. I told him we missed the tune, but before I know it, Barry Goudreau is standing on one side of me, with Sib on the other, and they’re both urging me to go out on stage and play. Eventually Brad Delp [former lead singer for Boston] comes over as well, and says, ‘Hey, Ernie, I heard you’re sitting in. Its gonna be fun, right?’ The band on stage ended without me joining them – but then they see half of Boston standing next to the stage, and start calling us all up. There was no way I was going up there, but the guys went onstage and played three killer Boston tunes. The crowd went crazy, because these guys hadn’t played this stuff together in 30 years. When they struck the final note, the crowd went absolutely nuts, and the guys again turned to me and told me to get up there. I literally grabbed my guitar and ran. I ran! I was so nervous, I just took off and told them I had to get up early in the morning. So even though that was a nightmare, that’s essentially how I met those guys.”
These days, Ernie isn’t so reluctant to hop on stage and jam. Though he left that first night with his pride slightly bruised, he also came away with the friendship of Sib and Barry, who would later become members of his band. The three began jamming together, adding Barry’s RTZ bandmate Tim Archibald on bass – “When I was at Berklee, he was the hottest bass player around,” Ernie notes. For vocals, Ernie again drew from Barry and Tim’s RTZ experience, grabbing vocalist Brian Maes, who doubles on keyboards, to complete the group.
The band started off with a bang – opening for Los Lobos and guitar virtuoso Johnny A at the Reel Blues Festival in Cape Cod. “Our first gig was in front of 2,400 people with only four rehearsals!,” Ernie recounts. The Reel Blues Festival proved to be a worthy and relevant first gig for Ernie and his band – it is an annual film and music festival held to raise money to help older musicians with various needs such as healthcare. In addition, the money raised is also used to help burgeoning independent filmmakers.
Since that first performance in August of 2006, Ernie and the Automatics have gone on to open for blues legend B.B. King and release a live CD and DVD of their performance at the Reel Blues Festival, along with an additional live CD entitled The Body Shop Sessions, and a live DVD, Sunday with Liz Walker. The group took to the studio in May to record a CD of original songs.
It is through these CDs and DVDs, along with other merchandise, such as t-shirts, that Ernie and the Automatics help support his philanthropic efforts. “All of the money from our merchandise, available through the band’s website [ernieandtheautomatics. com] goes to Music Drives Us,” Ernie explains. The band also uses their growing buzz in the Boston area to raise awareness through public service announcements and television appearances, meaning that Ernie Boch’s various endeavors, both musically and financially, are helping share the joy of music.
Ernie Boch Jr. is a true anomaly in the musical community. Instead of being content with his accomplishments in the business world, Ernie has chosen to use his skills and resources to spread music education across the New England area, in addition to pursuing his own dream of performing the music he grew up with. If every region had an Ernie, and subsequently a foundation like Music Drives Us, there would be a whole lot more music to go around.
|Interested in hearing Ernie and the Automatics this summer? You can catch up with the guys at the following venues: |
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.