Jim Masdea, the co-founder of the legendary classic rock band BOSTON, is now ready to embark on a new chapter in his life.
Growing up in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, near Boston’s inner city, Jim showed great musical talent in playing the drums at a very young age. He remembers tapping to music since he was 5 years old. The passion to drum inspired this little boy into building his own drum set out of his mother’s cooking pans, pots and plates. A battle over cookery between mother and son lasted until he was 13 years old when his parents finally had the money to buy him a second-hand drum set. By banging away to his favorite bands, he taught himself to play the drums.
At the age of 16, Jim and Rick Poulin formed the band “Orange Wedge”. In the summer of 1969, they began to perform for the concert series Summer Thing, doing outdoor performances in the neighborhoods all over the city of Boston. After seeing a WHO concert at the Boston Tea Party, Jim was inspired to seek other musical opportunities. He answered an ad posted by guitar player Barry Goudreau who was looking for a keyboard player and a drummer. Tom Scholz joined the band and one week later, Jim was asked to join. The band quickly dissolved but Jim and Tom kept playing together. Neither of them imagined the music they developed together would have such an effect on the world.
Growing up in a rich family and working as an engineer at Polaroid, Scholz was financially comfortable. Jim, on the other hand, had to play bar gigs to support himself, which set the background story that Rock’n’Roll Band was based on. Collaboration between them went on for 7 years, in Jim’s basement in Jamaica Plain and Scholz’s basement in Watertown. Jim laid the percussive foundation. Scholz played all the base, guitar and keyboard parts. And finally Brad Delp sang all the vocals on the recordings which would eventually turn into BOSTON’s debut album.
Jim has never been satisfied with being just a drummer. He strives to be a whole musician able to play multiple instruments. As a teenager, he went to Boston Technical High School, a feeder school for MIT. After meeting Scholz in the summer of 1969, Jim realized music was what he wanted to do in his life. He began to cut all classes except English and Government to go to the auditorium to teach himself to play the piano. After multiple suspensions, Jim was told by the school that he could not graduate because of all the failing grades from the suspensions. So he undertook a search of all the schools in the different parts of the city of Boston, searching for the best piano. The final school he visited was in his hometown Jamaica Plain where there was a beautiful Steinway coffin grand in perfect tune. The music teacher at the school was a great guy who spent his own money to maintain the piano. This was the school where he could do what he had been trying to do at Boston Tech. He has also taught himself to play the guitar and sing. Through years of hard work, he’s now able to play the piano, guitar and sing with the same passion and feel as the drums.
Over the last 40 plus years, sitting in hundreds of times with different bands, Jim received the best compliment a fellow musician can give to another, which is a shit-eating grin. Every time Jim started to play with the band he sat in with, every band member would turn to him almost in unison with a shit-eating grin on their face. It was like “Wow, what is that!”. Tom Scholz was the very first one Jim experienced that with, when Scholz on keyboard and Jim on drums jammed for the very first time back in 1969. A couple of weeks ago in Maryland Jim sat in with a band where he experienced the same shit-eating grin as every time before.
Unlike most drummers, Jim interacts with the different musicians when they begin to solo by listening to their solo and reinforcing the rhythm in the phrasing of the notes in the solo, which inspires them to do more than what they would have normally done. This is the point in performance when the creation of music in real time happens, where improvising rather than duplicating what was played before, creates something new. This is what Jim would like to capture with the streaming of live improvised performances.
In addition to being a musician, Jim was involved in a variety of businesses, including recently running a bar/restaurant in China, building and operating a bakery (he makes the best cinnamon rolls on the planet), running corporate charters on an 85-foot yacht, building and running a food distribution company that provided high quality all natural food to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s for over 15 years.
In 2007 Jim decided to travel to China. Originally planned to stay for a very short period of time then return home, he fell in love with the country and ended up staying there for 10 years. The experience of being a kindergarten teacher, a musician playing at bars and events, and a bar owner gained him quite a few incredible stories to tell. In the last 4 years in China, Jim practiced his original songs every day, bringing himself back to a performing level.
Jim will soon start a crowd-funding project for a biography, a documentary on the early development of the band BOSTON, and an internet key to download his live streamed performances. Although an album is a normal medium to deliver music, when a band undertakes a multi-track recording project, all improvisation between the different players ends, which is how the feel of the music is lost during the recording process. Interaction and jamming of musician is exactly where great music comes from and how music was created in the first place. Jim believes that streaming live performances is the only way to truly deliver pure music to the audience.
A Decade in China
I went to China in on March 31, 2007. To be honest, I was a little worried, after all, China is a communist country. On the contrary, it turned out to be a safe and amazing place. People there are friendly, food cheap, easy to get around. I survived and had a life there, even though I don’t speak a word of Chinese.
After teaching in a kindergarten for 4 years, I wanted to turn my focus back to music. I went to Shanghai and started to do shows. I worked for a wine company who flew me all over China to perform at their wine-tasting events.
Half a year later, I moved to Shenzhen, one of the fastest growing city in China, which borders Hong Kong. Together with my girlfriend, we leased a bar in Shekou, a district in the very south of Shenzhen, where most of the expats live. The bar was more than a business for me. I rehearsed and practiced my originals every day to get myself back to a performing level. While running the bar, Boston fans from all over the world came to see me. I was so amazed and realized that almost everyone on the planet has at least heard of Boston.
I came back to US on March 31, 2017. Exact a decade in China.