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Music is their business

It's easy to forget what your mission is all about, says Ryan Bouslaugh, a buyer and merchandiser at Musician's Friend.

"We're the largest Internet-based music retailer in the world," Bouslaugh says. "But sometimes we get so caught up in our spreadsheets that we forget we're selling gear to people to help them create their dreams."

So the idea was born that the employees of Musician's Friend — some of whom are professional players, others not — get together every few months to present shows at local venues.

A lineup of electric bands made up of Musician's Friend employees will perform at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27, at 4 Daughters Irish Pub, 126 W. Main St., Medford.

"Some of the shows are electric, so we grab our Strats, our Les Pauls, and some are acoustic and we bring a stand-up bass, fiddles, mandolins," Bouslaugh says. "Anything goes."

This is the ninth show sponsored by Musician's Friend. Past shows have been at Krazy Jakes, the Hungry Woodsman and Johnny B's. This is the company's second show at 4 Daughters.

"We have about 200 people working at Musician's Friend," Bouslaugh says. "The only requirement to play at the jams is that you be an employee. It's created a better culture for us at work."

Many bands have formed within the walls of Musician's Friend, playing in genres that range from classic and contemporary rock to alternative and punk.

There will be eight different bands performing for the show at 4 Daughters. Bouslaugh will play bass with several of them and emcee the show. Each band will perform for about 30 minutes. They will include names such as Faux Fighters, with Bouslaugh, Dave Pelletier, Rob Welch and Jeff Ceresnie; Long John Chris McCrellis and The Hack All-Stars, with Chris McCrellis, Bob Weibel, Barry Rivman, Martin Race, Nick Welsh and special guests Phil Berkun and Craig Johnson; Kung Fu Koalas, with Chris Tso, Welsh and Bouslaugh; Steve's of Fire, with Steve Read, Wayne (Steve) Philipp and Jeff (Steve) Ceresnie; and others.

Musician's Friend is a direct marketer and has been headquartered in Medford since 1983. The company offers musical instruments, sound and recording equipment and accessory items through its print catalogs and Web sites, including musiciansfriend.com.

The Web site offers buying guides, technical tips and gear reviews and articles written by well-known artists and professionals in the music industry.

But when the weekends roll around, many of Musician's Friend's employees "clock out and plug in."

Even Chief Executive Officer Craig Johnson occasionally sits in at the jams to play cowbell.

"It's hysterical," Bouslaugh says. "Craig doesn't play at all, but one of our percussion companies made him a signature cowbell. It's got his name on it."

There is no cover for the show at 4 Daughters. Call 779-4455

Clockwise from front: Musician's Friend employees Stacy Haddorff, Nicholas Welsh, Chris McCrellis-Mitchell and Ryan Bouslaugh will take part in the company's Electric Jam. - Jim Craven