Q&A with Black Heart Magazine


Highly entertaining - could not put it down. Laid out over a series of days during Battle of the Bands in Boston, The Next Boston Band, tells the story of the young Michael Bessel, or Mekhi, a gifted band manager by night and enterprise sales guy by day who will stop at nothing to promote his band, Pistola, in their rare opportunity to make it big. You cannot help but fall in love with Mekhi from day one. Mek’s dedication to his band, knack for women, and disregard for the entrenched and corrupt hierarchy of the Boston night scene, make for a fresh, laudable, and lovable protagonist that keeps you quickly turning pages, rooting for him in the face of certain death by the ruthless Tyger brothers, who have dominated and thwarted the Boston music scene for years.

The story moves fast as a true action-adventure. It is textured with the perfect degree of nostalgia for Boston music legends, Ric Ocasek and Steve Tyler, along with classic Boston grit and corruption, while placing the reader right into the modern Boston music and night scene, as a true insider. What I love about this story is that it a timeless tale of dedication over self-preservation and underdog versus giant but framed by a character and scene that are incredibly unique and captivating. This book will appeal to anyone who enjoys a Boston story, a whole hearted adventure, or simply anyone who loves the Cars and Aerosmith. I read this in one day and then went for a drive and listened to Just What I Needed - the story was just that.
— Amazon

This is not the first story I’ve read by Michael Fertik and it is, as always, beautifully written, with very well-drawn out characters and an adventurous plot. A master story-teller, the author takes you through two weeks of life of Mekhi Bessel, a talented, driven and passionate impresario, as he works to support the concert of his favorite band. The author created characters readers would immediately care about, and everything in this book - the entire story, the characters, the dialogues, the Boston background - are written in an amazing detail. This could be a really great movie! Look forward to more books by Michael.
— Amazon

The Next Boston Band is contemporary new adult fiction written by Michael Fertik. Mekhi is a gifted independent musical promoter based in Boston who, by day, is known as Michael Benjamin Bessel, a sales rep dealing in million-dollar high tech equipment for financial exchanges. The people at work are wondering what happened to him when he arrives there badly bruised after a brutal beating by the Tygers Brothers. He’s not about to get into that — the Tygers Brothers are used to getting a piece of any action that goes on in Boston, and Mekhi’s not been playing by their rules. When this year’s Battle of the Bands is announced, Mekhi and the Tygers Brothers are each determined that their group will win first prize and the lucrative Sony contract that goes with it.

Michael Fertik’s contemporary new adult novel, The Next Boston Band, rocks, literally. Fertik ramps up the tension from the first page where we meet the battered but still defiant Mekhi. Mekhi is an amazing, resilient and driven character whose mind keeps ticking off to-do lists while he navigates his increasingly complicated and painful world. The descriptions of the musical performances are outstanding — the excitement, energy and electricity of the competition sparks and crackles off the page, and you can almost hear the music being played. I loved having the opportunity to see all this through the lens of the promoter who’s rarely in the limelight but seems to be calculating options and orchestrating the action non-stop. The Next Boston Band is beautifully written and a joy to read. It’s most highly recommended.
— Jack Magnus

The Next Boston Band is an entertaining and fascinating Ebook by the talented author, Michael Fertik. It is about Greater Boston’s top Indie promoter, Mekhi Bessel, who is a likable rogue who is not above using trickery and cajoling to create concerts and events out of nothing. In Fertik’s book, Bessel finds himself on the wrong side of thugs called the Tygers brothers, who, as Fertik puts it, “cooked all the nightlife in Boston.” That is right as there is a movement going on in Boston, to try to have another great rock band come out of the city, something that has not happened since the 1980s, when The Cars and Aerosmith hit it big. Bessel wants to be the person behind bringing such a band to reality.

Mekhi Bessel, as Fertik writes, “could get anyone to come to anything.” Bessel could, for instance, “could get the cokehead finals club WASPs from Harvard to a poetry slam at Chocolate City, the Afro-theme house at MIT. And he knew from experience he could get the Euro-Latins from Emerson to dance salsa in the freezing cold to Israeli rock music in the parking lot outside the Beanpot hockey semi-final.”

At the beginning of The Next Boston Band, Mekhi Bessel is a hustler, a person who earns his income by being skillfully able to arrange events. Bessel produced his first play and “charged for it in violation of Theater Club rules.” He even arranged after-hours parties when the bars closed.

When a radio station hypes up the idea of The Cars and Aerosmith backing the search for the next great Boston band, Mekhi Bessel sees his chance to take the bull by the horns and make a bigger name for himself as a musical promoter.

However, the local gangsters, the Tygers brothers, “cooked all the nightlife in Boston.” They do not want anyone to try to move into territory that they consider to be theirs. They take immediate offense to the efforts of Bessel to make a buck when it comes to promoting bands. They have, in general, looked the other way and allowed Bessel to conduct the limited degree of entrepreneurship that he has, so they get the idea that Mekhi owes them.

However, Bessel has had the dream of promoting a successful band since he was “a kid,” as Fertik writes. As he grew older, becoming an adult, the dream never left him. He knew that such a job “brought girls, fame, and dough when you got big enough.”

Besides these benefits, there was the knowledge that “there was a real something you were selling, a legit product.” If Bessel succeeded, he could find a degree of pride in having done it through legit means...more or less.

However, Mekhi Bessel faces numerous complications in his attempt to be behind the next big Boston band. It could be that the Tygers brothers will prevent him from living out his dream of being a legit band promoter. But, Bessel will not give up his dream without a fight.

The Next Boston Band by Michael Fertik is a terrific look into the seedy underbelly of Boston, but it is also a look at a local hustler who is trying to go legit and become the promoter of possibly one of the biggest band to ever have come out of the city. It is also about a dream held by the rock fans of Boston, the dream that another major rock band will arise from their city and hit the big time. Check out this wonderful novel today!
— Douglass Cobb

Who knew that there could be so much action and intrigue between a Battle of the Bands? The Next Boston Band by Michael Fertik puts you in the middle of non-stop action as the top indie promoter in Greater Boston, Mekhi Bessel, tries to push his band Pistola into the limelight as the next great band to come out of the Boston rock ‘n’ roll scene. When two superstars who got their start in Boston, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Ric Ocasek of The Cars, return to Boston to judge The Battle of the Bands, Mekhi knows that his time has arrived and he has to win. Pistola has a few inner-band feuds going on and Mekhi is dodging sleeping with the hot little number that is going out with one of the band members, but that’s only a small part of the bigger problem that he faces; the Tygers Brothers. After taking a couple of serious beatings from the guys who control all of the nightlife in Boston, Mekhi has an uphill battle that could even cost him his life if he is going to be managing the next big rock band out of Boston.

As innocent as managing and promoting a rock band might seem at first, Michael Fertik puts you into a highly suspenseful and action packed thriller that won’t let you go in The Next Boston Band. From the outset, the reader is sucked into the story and held firmly in place as the riveting plot unwinds. You’ll feel every painful bruise and be as eager to rock out with the big boys as Fertik takes you on a wild ride backstage and behind the scenes of a world that goes far beyond the small-time gigs of a garage band and into the high stakes of becoming a major player. Action-packed and a suspense filled page-turner, The Next Boston Band will rock your world and give you a thrill that you never expected to witness backstage of a rock ‘n’ roll band.
— Bil Howard

The Next Boston Band by Michael Fertik is a smash hit in the Rock and Roll division. Boston is a great city full of music and life. However, no truly great rock bands have made it big from Boston since Aerosmith. In order to shake things up and have Boston’s next great rocker fall out of the woodwork, the mayor of the city decides to hold a battle of the bands and get the next Steven Tyler or Ric Ocasek to step up to the plate. Mekhi Bessel is going to make the battle of the bands work for him to make his pocketbook bigger. As the best “producer” in town, he can talk money out of nearly everyone so he jumps at the chance to use Tyler and Ocasek’s arrival to his advantage. Of course, being such a player in the city’s games comes with its disadvantages and pains too...namely the Tygers brothers.

The Next Boston Band is great fun for those musicians out there. A lot of rock references and music lingo could make this a challenging read for someone not familiar with those aspects of pop culture, but for those in the know this will be a great read! Michael Fertik does an excellent job with his back stories and characters, though the dialogue and speech patterns definitely felt a bit forced for me. Completely unrepentant and out to make a buck, Mekhi wasn’t my favorite person in the world but he sure was an interesting character. I didn’t relate to him very much, but he was a cocky little guy. I often crossed the border between actually liking him and not a few times during the book!
— Katelyn Hensel

A work of fiction that reads like a roman à clef, Michael Fertik’s The Next Boston Band follows a tight two weeks in the life of music promoter Michael “Mekhi” Bessel as he works to propel his band, Pistola, to the top spot in a Battle of the Bands. With the city of Boston keen to break the next big thing, homegrown rockers Ric Ocasek and Steven Tyler lend star power to the deal as the competition’s judges, and Mekhi knows this is his shot at the big leagues. The only trouble is that he’s in debt to the Tygers brothers, two gangsters that run the city’s live music venues — and whom he hasn’t been cutting in on any of his events. At the start of the book’s action, Mekhi’s already been given what-for by the brothers, with the threat of more to come if he doesn’t step off their turf. Complicating things further, the brothers manage a rival band in the competition with a similar sound, and Mekhi knows he’s going to have to play hardball if he wants to win.

Interspersing third-person narration following Mehki’s POV with daily news reports from a local radio station, the novel conveys a good mixture of play-by-play throughout the Battle and gossip connecting Mekhi to Boston’s underworld that keeps readers guessing. This focus on Mekhi’s perspective, rather than that of the aspiring rock stars in the band he manages, gives a fresh take on the ‘mockumentary’ style typically used in novels about musicians. Although Mekhi’s taken quite a beating, he continues to bust his hump for the band behind the scenes, and we learn more about his investment in them as the story unfolds. Exposing the backdoor dealings, glad-handing and double-crosses that appear to be commonplace in the music scene, Fertik’s book paints a vivid picture of Boston as a one-horse town controlled by gangsters — complete with references to the notorious Whitey Bulger.

Fertik’s writing works well with the ‘mockumentary’ tone, concentrating on the facts and always keeping the pace moving. Brutal descriptions of Mekhi’s wounds are nicely juxtaposed with his unwavering determination to keep pushing forward and see his band succeed. Even when the band’s internal dramas threaten to destroy what he’s worked to build, it’s Mekhi’s cool attitude (undoubtedly honed at his secret sales day-job) that helps hold it all together. Will Pistola become The Next Boston Band? Read it for yourself to find out.
— Laura Roberts

The Next Boston Band by Michael Fertik introduces us to Mekhi Bessel, the top Indie promoter in Boston. He is a man who gets what he wants and can get other people do to exactly what he wants. He can make WASPs from Harvard go to a poetry slam at Chocolate City, host an Afro-theme house at MIT and a myriad of other things. He is only 24 and has a variety of things on his resume. He truly seemed to run the nightlife of Boston until he ran into the Tygers brothers, the men who felt they had a firm hold on the nightlife in Boston. They are criminal types and so they dealt Mekhi a serious beating.

This is the first book by Michael Fertik that I have read and I have to say I was more than a little bit entertained by it from the first page to the last. Mekhi was an interesting character and I spent most of the book deciding if I liked him or not and, honestly, I’m still not sure but I was entertained by the story. I know that I do not like the Tygers brothers at all; of course you aren’t really supposed to like them, right? Michael Fertik does a wonderful job of making this book readable and interesting with some twists that you don’t see coming unless you are overly good at seeing those plot twists. A solid book with an enjoyable story to tell, even if I didn’t fully connect with the characters. I will be reading more by this author.
— Kathryn Bennett