By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
WESTBOROUGH – Greg Kojoyian began honing his musical skills while in grades four through 12 in Westborough public schools. Several decades later, he’s now the founder, bassist and bandleader of The Midtown Horns.
In recent years, Kojoyian’s band has endured multiple concert cancellations due to inclement weather, the EEE threat and pandemic restrictions. Nevertheless, he is hopeful that The Midtown Horns’ show will go on as scheduled on Tuesday, Aug. 10, from 6 to 8 p.m., at Westborough’s Bay State Commons.
“Playing in my hometown is special for me,” he noted. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
Westborough’s instrumental years
Kojoyian learned to play trumpet as a fourth-grader inspired by the late Larry Forand. A professional trumpeter, Forand also worked full-time as the music director for Westborough’s entire school district.
“He was a great guy with an infectious ability to get everybody excited to do music,” Kojoyian said of his mentor.
In high school, Kojoyian also learned to play bass guitar. Then, his inspiration came from pop culture.
“You saw The Beatles running down the street with girls chasing them – but the girls weren’t chasing trumpet players,” he recalled. “I started getting into rock bands.”
Among his teen-era endeavors was a rock band called Pulse, which included horn players. They covered hit songs of bands such as Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears. Pulse’s performance venues ranged from dances at the Westborough Town Hall to high school graduation parties.
Continuing with a horn-based band
Kojoyian describes The Midtown Horns as the “direct descendant” of Pulse.
“Probably because I was originally a trumpet player, I’ve always liked the big sound of bands with horns,” he explained. “Pulse spurred my lifelong passion for horn-based bands.”
The Midtown Horns typically includes 14 to 16 musicians. Their repertoire features contemporary, Motown, funk, rhythm and blues, soul and Latin genres.
They debuted at a Southborough summer concert in 2017.
Also in 2017, the band performed at Bay Stay Commons following the grand parade to celebrate Westborough’s 300th anniversary. Performing the concert was a chance for Kojoyian to represent his family’s town pride.
“I only wish my dad could have seen us play at the celebration,” he said. “My dad loved Westborough.”
His late father, Sarkis Kojoyian, had served on the Westborough Planning Board as well as other town boards and committees.
In addition to outdoor summer concerts, The Midtown Horns entertain year-round at various venues.
“The summertime concerts are essentially our showcase,” Kojoyian noted. “We perform at weddings, benefits, corporate events and hotels. Very few nightclubs can fit us on their stage.”
Despite several unavoidable summer 2019 cancellations, Kojoyian considered it “a banner year” for the band.
As a favorite 2019 gig, he cites their concert at Gloucester’s annual Labor Day weekend celebration. The Midtown Horns performed amid the Schooner Festival’s Boat Parade of Lights and fireworks over Gloucester Harbor.
“It’s a really great event,” Kojoyian said of Gloucester’s holiday festivities. “We’re doing it again this year – thankfully!”
Their busy 2019 schedule culminated with a show in December at the Encore Casino in Everett. Pandemic restrictions canceled the band’s 2020 gigs.
Entertaining audiences again
The Midtown Horns’ return to the stage took place at Wood Park in Hudson. After getting rained out July 7 and 12, they entertained an appreciative audience under clear skies on July 15.
“It felt great,” Kojoyian said of their first live show in 18 months. “It’s almost like a dream that a whole year and a half went by.”
Another dream job for Kojoyian is The Midtown Horns’ upcoming concert in Westborough – his hometown.
“My musical roots are in Westborough,” he added.