Chattanooga Now Black Jacket Symphony checks into Tivoli with 'Hotel California'

Chattanooga Now Black Jacket Symphony checks into Tivoli with 'Hotel California'

September 15th, 2016 by Casey Phillips in Chattnow Music

The Eagles

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The Eagles' "Hotel California" album cover

The Eagles' "Hotel California" album cover

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

If you go

› What: Black Jacket Symphony presents The Eagles “Hotel California.”

› When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16-17.

› Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

› Admission: $25-$30, plus fees. Friday show is sold out.

› Phone: 423-757-5580.

› Venue website:

› Artist website:

Set/track list

1. “Hotel California”

2. “New Kid in Town”

3. “Life in the Fast Lane”

4. “Wasted Time”

5. “Wasted Time (Reprise)”

6. “Victim of Love”

7. “Pretty Maids All in a Row”

8. “Try and Love Again”

9. “The Last Resort”

Praise for “Hotel California”

* Five-star review (out of five) in Rolling Stone’s Feb. 24, 1977 issue

* Remained at the No. 1 position on the Billboard 200 chart for eight, non-consecutive weeks

* 32 million copies sold worldwide, including 16 million in the U.S. alone

* The song “Hotel California” won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1978

* No. 38 on VH1’s 2001 list of 100 Greatest Albums of All Time

* The song “Hotel California” was No. 49 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

In December 2010, Black Jacket Symphony was 18 months old and had already made a name for itself through note-for-note perfect performances of classic rock opuses. To some, however, it was starting to look like its founders had nothing but Britain on the brain.

Since its founding in May of 2009, the Birmingham, Ala.-based ensemble's rotating cast of players had dissected and performed note-for-note perfect shows of classic albums by a rush of U.K. legends, including The Beatles ("Abbey Road"), The Who ("Who's Next), The Rolling Stones ("Let It Bleed") Pink Floyd ("Dark Side of the Moon") and Led Zeppelin ("IV").

When Black Jacket Symphony finally turned its attention closer to home, however, there was just one band — and one album — that presented the most-compelling target: The Eagles' "Hotel California."

"The Eagles was our first American band," says Black Jacket Symphony founder J. Willoughby. "When you start thinking of American bands, they are the biggest-selling of all time."

The Eagles' fifth studio album — of seven — released nearly 40 years ago on Dec. 7, 1976, spawning three singles: New Kid in Town," "Life in the Fast Lane" and the title track, which won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1978. In all, the Recording Industry Association of America has certified 16 million album sales of "Hotel California," making it the 18th best-selling ever in the U.S.

Black Jacket Symphony has performed a slew of records in Chattanooga, but the last "Hotel California" show was in 2012. Willoughby says the album is always a popular selection, but the decision to reprise it at the Tivoli Theater on Friday and Saturday nights, Sept. 16-17, was made more poignant after the January death of Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey.

"We're doing this as an homage to him," Willoughby says. "That piques people's interest, but The Eagles are kind of an everyman band. There are so many people who love The Eagles, and that goes across a big demographic of listeners."

Like many Black Jacket Symphony dates, the show was originally slated to be a single concert, but a rush of early sales quickly sold out the Friday performance. Fortunately, Saturday night was available, and their one-off became a two-night residency, which Willoughby says was a definite windfall.

"Playing two nights at the Tivoli will just be amazing," he says. "That's what I'm looking forward to the most. I really do love it there; we all do."

Dissecting albums down to their components inevitably reveals unexpected complexities that are hard to replicate, especially live, but Willoughby says "Hotel California's" trickiest moments would be obvious to any Eagles fan.

"The vocals and guitar, both," he says, without hesitation. "To nail all the vocal parts was almost like doing a Beach Boys record. And the guitar, figuring out how we can do all the real licks everyone is familiar with was hard. Underneath, there's all sorts of stuff going on.

"Not to take anything away from the other players, because they had their hands full too, but those were the biggest challenges."

Contact Casey Phillips at or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.