STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media
For as long as Jim Boggia can remember, music has been the center of his world. A master musician, multi-instrumentalist and showman, Boggia adeptly plays an endless catalog of original music and cover songs.
“Music was the first thing that I cared about before anything else,” recalls Boggia from his home in Philadelphia. “My mom still insists to this day, before I could talk I would babble along with melodies on the radio or when they were playing records. I just loved playing guitar. So, as soon as I started, it’s all I wanted to do.”
A critically acclaimed singer songwriter that has been winning over fans for decades, Boggia wants to change how the world views the ukulele. Performing some of rock and roll’s greatest songs on the instrument, Boggia is releasing a series of videos through the crowd-funding site Patreon at www.patreon.com/jimboggia. Videos also appear on YouTube at www.youtube.com/jimboggia.
“The genesis was just coming across the ukulele five years ago,” says Boggia. “I just immediately fell in love with it. I played one thirty years ago, but hadn’t thought much about it. It just kind of struck a chord. It took me back to that early joy of learning about music.”
“I was really simpatico with the instrument,” adds Boggia. “I kept finding things I could do with it. I kept finding things I wanted to do with it. It seemed that it was a very well suited instrument for me to play and came to be a lot broader in terms of the styles of music that it could play and what you could accomplish with it as an instrument, as opposed to serving what the public perception of it was. It kind of became my secret sideline passion that I would do after hours in hotel rooms.”
“It clicked with me that I could make videos every month of the new arrangements that I’m coming up with on ukulele and the Patreon format,” says Boggia. “The platform would be a really good fit for bringing attention to that and also get a little bit of funding to buy better cameras and gear to make the videos, nicer ukuleles to play and to build a community of my fans who are really interested in the ukulele. (I’m) treating it as a serious instrument on which you can play pretty much any material that you set your mind to, as opposed to kind of the two or three cliché ukulele songs. So, I’m really looking forward to that. It’s been going fantastically well. I’m really excited about it.”
Boggia, a Philadelphia transplant originally from the Midwest, arrived in Philly in his early 20’s to work a day job for the electronics music company Ensonic while pursuing his passion for music at night.
At 32, Boggia took a leap of faith and became a full-time musician. He took on session work, wrote advertising jingles and penned songs for a variety of artists. Along with Grammy Award winning artist Andy Kravitz, Boggia gained international exposure as the co-writer of the number one Billboard hit song “Glory” for Christian recording artist Jaci Velasquez.
“It would have been great to have more commercial success, be more widely known, have my songs be more widely known,” reflects Boggia.
“I kind of knew that my commercial prospects were probably a little limited by waiting so late to get in the game. The fact that I’ve been doing this for twenty years, that’s more than I ever imagined. I wake up in the morning and this is my job. I feel like I’ve won before the day starts.”
Boggia released his debut full-length album, “Fidelity is the Enemy,” in 2001 featuring the singles “Bubblegum 45s” and “Several Thousand,” the song that found a place in the hearts of his fans in Japan and prompted him to perform there over the past five years.
“The place is beautiful, the food is amazing, and the fans have been so generous,” says Boggia. “Just the fact that there are people in Japan who are fans of my music still blows my mind. I play my songs, and they know the words and sing along with me.”
In addition to his ongoing solo career, Boggia was a member of the popular Philly band “4 Way Street” and currently performs with the Beatles tribute band “The Fab Faux.”
It was his love for the Beatles that led Boggia, along with some of his fellow veteran Philly musicians, to recreate the infamous Beatles rooftop concert at a Center City record store in 1999, marking the 30th anniversary of the Beatles’ legendary performance atop Apple Records in London, England.
“I think the entire universe is constructed out of music,” says Boggia. “I really believe we think in music first and then we put language to it on top. I think in songwriting, playing or whatever. I am trying to communicate the emotional stuff I feel from music and find a way to bring that to a room full of people when I’m playing or through recordings.”
“There is a communal thing that we can all experience emotionally that makes us realize, ‘Oh OK, well we’re not that different,’” adds Boggia. “I think music is the fundamental thing.”
IF YOU GO
What: Jim Boggia
Where: Steel City Coffee House, 203 Bridge St., Phoenixville
Where: Concert is at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12.
Tickets: Call (610) 933-4043 or check www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com.
Info.: To stay up to date with Jim Boggia visit www.jimboggia.com.