published Friday, September 7th, 2012

Black Jacket Symphony soars with The Eagles


What: Black Jacket Symphony presents The Eagles' "Hotel California."

When: 8 p.m. today.

Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

Admission: $25-$30.

Phone: 757-5050.


The Black Jacket Symphony is not a cover band, nor a tribute. The members don't dress up to resemble the original musicians whose works they play, nor do they attempt to imitate their mannerisms.

In fact, said musical director J. Willoughby, Black Jacket Symphony is like a cross between listening to an album and attending an orchestral concert.

"We go through the albums with a finetooth comb, trying to make these things as close to the album as we possibly can," he said.

Respect, noted Willoughby, is key. "We all wear black as if a symphony were doing a Mozart piece. We do the album front to back, note to note, as if you were listening to the record."

After all, he said, "when you go see a symphony, they don't wear powdered wigs and talk in Austrian accents."

This Friday, the album being honored is The Eagles' "Hotel California."

With each performance, different players are featured, depending on strength. "Hotel California" is very vocal and guitar heavy.

"The Eagles layered a lot of guitars, layered a lot of vocals," Willoughby said. "They're very precise. It's a challenge, and it's a lot of fun."

It's not easy to choose which albums to feature, he said.

"Everybody has a favorite classic album they think would be great."

They try to find records that were particularly defining for the time in which they were released. " 'Hotel California' is that whole movement of California rock," he said. "That and Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' were the two defining albums of that genre."

Albums like "Hotel California," and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," another Black Jacket performance, will be looked at by future generations in the way contemporary music fans listen to Mozart and Beethoven, according to Willoughby.

"I won't be around to see it, but this is going to be our classical music," he said.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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