Hitch(in’) a Ride to Conestogo

Conestogo may never host rock ‘n’ roll legends Boston, but Hitch A Ride is making sure their music can still be heard in smaller venues around southern Ontario.

The band plays solely repertoire from the American rock band and includes Robyn Landers (guitar) Graham Duench (vocals), Danielle Guistini (vocals), Kalina Seifried (vocals), Dan Beacock (guitar), Doug Chase (keyboard), Tom Nagy (bass), and John Walker (drums).

Robyn Landers says they can’t call themselves a tribute band because they don’t dress up like the band. Instead their tagline is “We perform the music of Boston.”

“I’ve been a huge fan of Boston since high school, which for me was the late 1970s. Their music just grabbed me right from the start. I loved the sound of the guitars, I loved the rich harmonies, the incredible harmony singing. The music was just fantastic. And at that time I was getting started learning how to play guitar and thought man it would be so amazing if I could someday possibly play this music,” Landers said.

He and Walker founded the band in 2006, but it didn’t turn into anything. They started it again for one event at the end of 2012 and it worked. So in 2013 they gathered all the musicians they needed and started learning the material for their first performance in November.

They’ll be playing at The Black Forest Inn in Conestogo this Saturday, which they’ve done a few times before. The first half of the show will be featuring The Women of Rock. Danielle Guistini and Kalina Seifried will perform the songs of some noted female artists.

“So that’s going to be Pat Benatar, Sass Jordan, Heart, Alanis Morissette, that kind of thing. So that’s really going to highlight our two female singers in the band. And then the second hour of the show it’ll be the Boston repertoire,” Landers said.

They’ve also played The Registry Theatre, Maxwell’s, the Schwaben Club, the Boston Club in Burlington, several private events, and birthday parties. They’ll be performing this May at a conference at Wilfrid Laurier University.

“We’ve done a couple of free outdoor events. We played at the Baden Summer Concert Series at Castle Kilbride two summers ago. And they told us we had the biggest audience they’d ever drawn for that event. We had 500 people or more. We did an outdoor benefit show for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada a couple years ago as well,” Landers said.

He says bands that focus on one artist give fans the chance to enjoy a full evening of music by artists who might be harder to go and see. Maybe tickets are $300 or the band you like isn’t touring in Canada. These types of bands allow people to hear the music in a live setting.

“It’s not like we can put on a multi-million light show and all that stuff like in an arena, but nevertheless we do deliver the musical experience so the fans can hear the songs they love from the artist they love in a much more accessible opportunity,” Landers said.

And they have a pretty dedicated core following building up. He says there are people who come to pretty much any show they do because they’re such big fans of the music and they put on a good show.

They’ve expanded their repertoire deeper into the Boston catalogue over the past three years.

“After you get past the point of learning to play the songs you also develop your ability to deliver a performance or a show. You can concentrate as well on not just playing the material but how you present the material and how you present yourselves on stage. We’re fortunate our three singers are all from the musical theatre background. They’re very accomplished on the theatrical side about how to carry themselves on stage and relate to an audience,” Landers said.

And it’s good timing for Boston fans to check out Hitch A Ride because 2016 happens to be the 40th anniversary of Boston’s debut album. They’ll be playing the entire album at the show, as well as an assortment of other tunes by them.

He notes they have three singers to achieve Brad Delp’s harmonies and Landers uses the same specific guitar amplifier that Tom Scholz used to create a very similar sound.

“The Boston records were created meticulously in the personal studio of Tom Scholz, the founder of the band. So he wrote almost all the songs and for most of the songs he played almost all of the instruments. He has the luxury of being able to pile on layers and layers of guitars and instrumentation and fairly intricate arrangements, which is great in a studio on a record…What’s challenging about it is to rearrange the densely recorded album material into a format that’s going to work live with two guitar players and a keyboard. So you have to suss out what are the most important guitar parts,” Landers said.

Boston is touring this summer, but as of yet hasn’t added any Canadian tour dates.

“To be able to play the music that we enjoy so much and to see the audience enjoy it so much, it’s really rewarding,” Landers said.

Hitch a Ride and The Women of Rock play The Black Forest Inn in Conestogo on Apr. 16. The show starts at 6 p.m. and you can go for dinner and the show, or just the show. Reservations can be made at www.showplacedinnertheatre.com.

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