Black Jacket Symphony to perform in Tuscaloosa

Black Jacket Symphony to perform in Tuscaloosa

The Black Jacket Symphony will perform AC/DC’s “Back in Black’ at the Bama Theatre tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. Photo courtesy of Aaron Reynolds

Sam West

The Black Jacket Symphony, a group of professional musicians who attempt to recreate classic albums as closely as possible, will put on a performance of 
AC/DC’s “Back in Black” at the Bama Theatre. The show 
will feature a performance of the classic album in its entirety.

“We’re basically going back through the canon of classic albums and performing these like a symphony would pay attention to a Mozart piece. Well, we do the same thing with an album,” said J. Willoughby, the founder of the group.

Willoughby describes himself as the Black Jacket Symphony’s “producer,” and he’s the only consistent force behind the group. There’s no permanent slate of musicians in the ensemble, as new artists are hired for each album the band covers.

The Black Jacket Symphony has put on performances of 28 different albums including The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” and, most recently, a grunge-themed show featuring Nirvana.

After Willoughby has chosen an album, he then closely analyzes it to figure out how to convey the sound of the record on stage. He takes minute details into account, including the year and make of the gear the band used when recording.

Willoughby said he takes the hiring process very seriously, and likens the process to assembling a football team, where teamwork is as important as individual skill.

Unlike many other cover bands, the Black Jacket Symphony does not attempt to look like the band to whom they’re paying tribute. Willoughby describes this as part of his goal to make the group a “classy” and “distinguished” way to see classic rock music performed live.

“We’re not kitschy,” he said. “We’re not dressing up like [the Beatles]. We’re not trying to. We’re not pretending to be them, speaking in the same Liverpudlian accent. When you see a Mozart concert, you don’t see a symphony wearing powdered wigs and speaking in Austrian accents. They just play the music, and that’s what 
we are doing.”

Willoughby was tight-lipped about the group’s next project and said that it was a secret to the intermission of the “Back in Black” show.

Aaron Reynolds works for Emporium Presents, the Black Jacket Symphony’s promoter.

“I believe people love the Black Jacket Symphony because it gives them the closest opportunity to seeing one of their favorite classic artists – many of whom are dead or no longer touring – in a live setting at an affordable ticket price,” Reynolds said.

David Allgood, manager of the Bama Theatre, said that Black Jacket Symphony shows always 
generate good, responsive crowds.

“They are very technically proficient musicians; the recreation of the songs are eerily accurate,” Allgood said.