'Executive Sessions' Let CEOs Rock Out Captains of industry, staffing their bands with top-drawer musicians, are taking part in a series called Executive Sessions. It's co-hosted by Boston's Berklee College of Music.
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'Executive Sessions' Let CEOs Rock Out

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'Executive Sessions' Let CEOs Rock Out

'Executive Sessions' Let CEOs Rock Out

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

The musicians we're about to hear from will likely not be playing on XM or Sirius, or any other major radio outlet anytime soon. They are amateurs, though not without ambition - lots of ambition. They are corporate CEOs who in their spare time trade in their PowerPoint presentations for power chords.

Andrea Shea of member of station WBUR has their story.

(Soundbite of dial tone)

ANDREA SHEA: This is the soundtrack to Ernie Boch, Jr.'s life from nine to five.

Unidentified Man #1: (Unintelligible)

Mr. ERNIE BOCH, JR (President, CEO, Boch Automotive Enterprises): Yeah, is Paul there?

Unidentified Man #1: Nope. He is (unintelligible).

Mr. BOCH, JR.: Well, he's got some (unintelligible) stuff he wants me to look at and some artwork.

SHEA: Boch is president and CEO of Boch Automotive, a multi-state empire of auto dealerships.

Mr. BOCH, JR.: We do about 1.8 billion in sales a year.

SHEA: At night, though, Boch downshifts by playing the blues.

(Soundbite of music)

SHEA: Boch is the rhythm guitarist in his two-year-old band "Ernie and the Automatics." It's not your average amateur group. Boch can afford to staff with some high-end talent. Barry Goudreau and Sib Hashian are two former members of the multi-platinum-selling band Boston.

Mr. BOCH, JR.: I'm out of my league. I mean, I'm just scuffling to keep up. I've always been the worst guy in the band, and I think that's the best way to be. You know? And also in business. You know, I surround myself with the best and the brightest. If I am the sharpest guy in this company, we have a problem.

The former, original lead guitarist on the first two albums, Mr. Barry Goudreau.

(Soundbite of song, "Long Time")

Unidentified Man #2: That's all they could play. That's it.

Mr. BOCH, JR.: No, we would have done more of the song, but we'd all be sued.

SHEA: As it turns out, Ernie Boch is not a rock and roll rookie. When he was in his 20s, he studied at Berklee College of Music, and that's where he played recently with the Automatics as part of an ongoing concert series called The Executive Sessions.

Mr. BOCH, JR.: This is our fearless leader, the one who makes it all happen. By the way, if anybody needs a tire changed or anything...

SHEA: This series is booked by an executive, Tom Simons, president and creative director of PARTNERS+simons, a brand strategy firm in Boston. He's also the guitarist for The Loomers, which climbed to the top of the corporate rock ladder in Fortune magazine's 2004 Battle of the Corporate Bands.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. TED SIMONS (Guitarist, The Loomers): We submitted some songs, made it to the semi-finals in New York City, played at the Knitting Factory, and then went on the finals and played to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. And that's the real "Wayne's World" moment, I'll tell you.

SHEA: The Loomers did not win, but Simons, a guitarist, says the national battle made it clear his corporate band isn't alone. Some of the CEO rockers playing at the executive sessions in Boston come from Fidelity Investments and Raytheon. Simon says they've got the money to feed the habit.

Mr. SIMON: Every one of these bands is much better equipped than your average garage band. I play a James Trussart Rusty Steel Deville. I have a Les Paul. I have a pimped out Paul Reed Smith guitar. And those are just the ones my wife knows about.

Mr. DAVE WILDMAN (Film and Music Critic): Money can't buy me talent.

(Soundbite of laughs)

SHEA: Film and music critic Dave Wildman plays guitar too, but he says money has been the downfall of rock and roll.

Mr. WILDMAN: Iggy Pop used to cut himself with razor blades and roll around in peanut butter and then dive into the audience. And now his music is being used on a cruise commercial. That's what's happened to rock. Rock has become a brand, it's become a product.

Mr. SIMONS: I guess there's a lot of kind of anti-corporate sentiment with our musicians, but you know, we have to make a living.

SHEA: Jon Cahill(ph) makes his living as head of Celio(ph), a Cambridge graphic design firm. On this night, though, he's lead singer for The Limitations.

Mr. JON CAHILL: One, two, I'm getting there. One, two.

SHEA: The band's rhythm guitarist, Dr. Jim Januzzi, directs the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. He also consults for the Boston Red Sox.

Dr. JIM JANUZZI (Massachusetts General Hospital): I travel a lot, I teach, I speak, so I'm constantly on the road. I'm working long hours in the hospital. And my patients will say, how do you de-stress? And I tell them, I de-stress by putting on my Paul Reed Smith, turning on my Mesa-Boogie to eight or nine, and making the walls shake.

(Soundbite of music)

SHEA: These rockers are not going to start smearing peanut butter all over their bodies for therapy, or smashing up their pretty and pricy guitars. And they won't be giving up their day jobs anytime soon, either, because they say it will take a lot of money to convince their wives to let them go on tour.

For NPR News, I'm Andrea Shea in Boston.

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