News Column

Working: Ed Boucher, music producer and jingle writer [Sun Journal (Lewiston, ME)]

June 23, 2013

YellowBrix

LEWISTON -- Music producer Ed Boucher believes he will yet make that monster hit, recording that big song that makes everybody hum.

At 68, he maintains a studio in the living room of his second- story apartment and can still turn the volume up, rattling the windows and shaking the floor like an angry teenager.

"I'm not dead yet," said Boucher, who is recovering from cancer surgery. "I can't imagine that I'm going to go to my grave without a hit. That doesn't enter in my mind. It's not in the realm of possibility."

Yet, he also knows it's been a long time coming.

He's been making music for more than 50 years.

He recorded his first record in 1961, squeezing his bandmates from the Royal Knights into the back of Maurice's Music Mart in downtown Lewiston. There they were able to cut a single record while they played and sang. Three years later, when the band first recorded in a professional studio in Boston, Boucher, then 19, was awestruck.

Among the speakers and the switches, the microphones and whirring recording gizmos, Ed Boucher found his place.

"That was it," he said. "They had these big Altec speakers, and they were cranked. I knew right then and there I was going to be in the recording business."

The Royal Knights did well, becoming a popular band in the Northeast. They never hit it big, though.

Within a few years, Boucher created EAB Studio in a third-story space above Lisbon Street. There he transformed the former WCOU radio into a hub for local music and business jingles.

Local artists, including Rick Pinette and Oak, Bill Chinnok, Devonsquare and Nick Knowlton, all recorded there. Knowlton and the band Katfish scored a place on the Billboard charts, hitting number 52 with a 1975 cover of the Beatles' "Dear Prudence." It was the most successful pop song Boucher ever recorded in the studio.

The success could be intoxicating, he said.

"When you've got one going and stations are starting to play it and you're mailing records to Dallas, it's a real rush," he said. "You can smell it."

"I built the studio because I wanted to make hits. And I know we made some. We just never had a huge one."

Boucher counts his popular commercials as hits, too.

He wrote popular jingles for Country Kitchen bread, Northern Mattress and Furniture Co., the Sausage Kitchen and the Lewiston Maineiacs. He's probably best known for the line "I should have bought it when I saw it at Mardens."

The best jingles cut to the heart of what a business is about, he said.

"You want to make sure the melody is easy to remember," he said. "You want to make sure every word is clear."

Too few businesses bother with them anymore.

The early 1990s' economy forced him out of business, he said.

"The recession killed me," he said. "I worked for three years in the cold, because I couldn't afford to heat the studio. I had to sell my equipment."

He closed in 1995 and went to work at L.L. Bean.

Within a year, he began to miss it.

"This is such a unique business," he said. Friends helped him outfit his home to record on a smaller scale, and EAB Studio was reborn.

Today he has computer and sound equipment against one wall of his living room. In another corner, he has a mic. It's all he needs.

"I can't record whole bands together, but I can do them one at a time," he said.

A few years ago, he created a trio of local women and led the production on a project known as "The Donut Divas." They made a CD with original music and a video. He and his partners had meetings with show business folks, but the project stalled, as so many have.

There are more songs and jingles to write, though.

Boucher also wants to create a video to accompany a story that dates back to 1978.

"I've had this Christmas story that came to me in a dream," he said. "I woke up at 3 o'clock one morning. I got this story, and I wrote it down.

It's called "The Last Christmas Song."

It's a children's tale that he plans to illustrate with video of an artist's illustrations. He then plans to get actors and singers to record a soundtrack.

It must be done, Boucher said. After all, he believes the story came from God. Therefore, he must finish it in the time he has left.

"If I don't get it done, it's not like it's an idea of mine that I didn't complete," he said. "It's an idea of His that I didn't complete."

He thought about the project as he faced his cancer diagnosis.

He imagined hearing God ask, "How'd the Christmas story come out?"

"I would say, 'I never got it done,'" Boucher said. "And he would say, 'I gave you 35 years.'"

dhartill@sunjournal.com

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