• Black Jacket Symphony - Hotel California, Knoxville 2015

    The Black Jacket Symphony – Hotel California

    Bijou Theater

    Knoxville, Tennessee

    May 9, 2015


    Buck Johnson (L) & J. Willoughby


    Knoxville loves The Black Jacket Symphony and they love Knoxville. Both was evident in last night’s performance by BJS of Eagles’ “Hotel California” and some of the greatest hits.

    Performing in front of an enthusiastic, sold out crowd, BJS wowed them from the opening, iconic notes of “Hotel California” and every song thereafter.

    As he did during his performance last year of the Led Zeppelin IV album, Buck Johnson delivered vocals virtually identical to the album on every song he sang. When he wasn’t singing, then BJS leader, J. Willoughby did the same. Together, they were a vocal powerhouse of Eagles harmony.

    Not everyone will be able to catch Eagles in concert but everyone in the South should be able to see Black Jacket Symphony as they tour the region, presenting “Hotel California” in a way that will make Eagles band members (as well as their fans) proud.

    Black Jacket Symphony’s schedule and upcoming projects can be followed at BlackJacketSymphony.com

  • Black Jacket Symphony – Escape

    Black Jacket Symphony – Escape

    Bijou Theatre – March 19, 2016

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Knoxville loves The Black Jacket Symphony and, once again, it showed Saturday night at the Bijou as the group performed Journey’s epic LP, Escape.

    Performing in front of yet another enthusiastic, sold out crowd, BJS blew the audience away and left them begging for more. I couldn’t understand what the lead vocalist’s name was but he did an amazing job cranking out the ten songs from “Escape” as well as a hand full of Journey’s other huge hits. Did I say he was amazing?

    Yeah, he was that good.bjsescape001

    If you ever get a chance to catch any BJS, do. Regardless of what album they’re covering. They never cease to blow me away.

    Black Jacket Symphony’s schedule and upcoming projects can be followed at BlackJacketSymphony.com.


  • Black Jacket Symphony Performing Abbey Road – 2015

    Black Jacket Symphony Performing Abbey Road – 2015

    February 21, 2015

    Bijou Theater

    Knoxville, Tennessee

    Photo courtesy of JamesPattersonsGallery.com


    When I first saw Black Jacket Symphony perform the Led Zeppelin IV album last October, I wrote (here) many glowing superlatives about their amazing talent and delivery of a musically difficult album. 

    Last night, I saw one of the BJS bands (fronted by vocalist/guitarist, J. Willoughby) deliver an equally accurate and crowd pleasing treatment of the Beatles’ historic “Abbey Road” album.

    Like one of those “fade-to-the-past” methods used on TV shows like “Cold Case,” I watched a crowd be taken back to their teens or young adult days as they remembered key events of their past set against this particular soundtrack. 

    From the opening chords of “Come Together” to the closing notes of the crowd pleasing encore, “Hey Jude,” BJS had the capacity crowd and the beautiful and intimate Bijou Theater in downtown Knoxville. A crowd, I might add, that braved slushy streets and cold rain to catch this show and BJS did not disappoint.

    In between those historic, musical bookends were fun and memorable deliveries of the entire Abbey Road song list during the first half of the evening and other hits from the Beatles catalog during the second half of the evening. 

    Most of the vocals were performed by Willoughby with significant contributions by Oak Ridge’s Mark Lanter on drums and lead vocals. Between the two, they wowed the crowds.

    Rounding out the band was Aaron Branson on bass, Allen Barlow on guitar, Andres Berrios on violin, Bob Taylor on keyboards and vocals, Brad Wolfe on guitar, Nathan LeFevre on Cello and Peyton Grant on keyboards and guitar.  Corporately, they delivered a performance that was as tight as it was fun  - and they looked like they were enjoying it as much as the crowds.

    If you want a great night of musical nostalgia, catch a Black Jacket Symphony performance. You won't be disappointed.

  • Black Jacket Symphony Performing Led Zeppelin IV - 2014

    Black Jacket Symphony Performing Led Zeppelin IV
    October 03, 2014
    Bijou Theater
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    Photo by James Patterson


    Tribute acts, can be (to paraphrase Forrest Gump) like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. Some are merely weak attempts at being a cover band. Some do a phenomenal job.  Most fall in the middle of the spectrum.

    When the opportunity to see Black Jacket Symphony (whom I’ve never heard of until I knew they were coming to Knoxville) perform Led Zeppelin’s “IV” album (plus some of their greatest hits), I had no idea what I was in for. I mean, c’mon! They’re going actually try to cover “IV” from beginning to end? If it didn’t work, they’d be playing on sidewalks of the inner city of their choice.


    To say that this southeast centric (as of now) band nails it would be a gross understatement. From the opening strains of “Black Dog” to the crescendo ending of “Kashmir” at the end of their encore, BJS is, musically, the next best thing to seeing an actual Page/Plant/Jones reunion.

    After wowing the crowd with “Black Dog,” they bowled us over with an incredibly energetic treatment of “Rock & Roll”. But they thoroughly won the crowd with an eye-popping handling of “Over The Hills And Far Away”.

    The crowd swayed to “Stairway To Heaven” and danced in the aisles while playing “Misty Mountain Hop” to perfection. They finished out the album’s performance with “Four Sticks,” “Going To California” and “When The Levee Breaks” (those last to were rewarded with standing ovations).

    After an intermission that was just the right length, Black Jacket Symphony returned to the stage to play pretty much anything you’d hope and pray would be


    Photo by James Patterson

    on a Zeppelin set list. Tunes like “The Song Remains The Same” and “Good Times Bad Times,” which had the crowd enthusiastically on its feet, singing along.
    During a wonderfully dirty and bluesy, “Dazed And Confused,” guitarist, Bryan Gibson, broke a string while playing his gold top Les Paul with a bow. The boy didn’t miss a lick and the performance was not affected in the least little bit. THAT, my friends, is a sign of a consummate professional.

    Trading out guitars, the band went into an almost note-for-note perfect cover of “Battle For Evermore,” a brilliant “What Is And What Should Never Be” and the crowd singing right along on “Ramble On.”

    The second set wound up with bang-on performances of “Since I’ve Been Loving You” (the vocalist’s range un-flippin’-believable!), a well-oiled delivery of “Houses Of The Holy” and “Whole Lotta Love” (complete with a perfect use of a thermin).

    For the encore, the band left the crowd in blissful exhaustion after an absolutely masterful performance of “Kashmir” that would have Page, Plant and Jones standing up and taking notice.

    Yeah, it was that good.

    Black Jacket Symphony has several bands that tour the country performing various albums and greatest hits. With this band’s performance of Zeppelin, you can bet I’ll be catching anything they’ve got going on within driving distance of me.

    And the Bijou Theater?  It’s the first time I’ve seen a performance in the beautiful and intimate venue. The acoustics are great and the staff there are friendly, courteous and helpful. It’s a class act all the way and I look forward to seeing future shows there.

  • Black Jacket Symphony Performs AC/DC’s Back In Black

    Black Jacket Symphony Performs AC/DC’s Back In Black

    Tennessee Theatre – Knoxville, TN

    September 14, 2018


    A Guest Concert Review by Hollie Reid

    bjsacdcbackinblack001Photo by Hollie ReidI’m a long time AC/DC fan. Long time as in ever since I was born. My dad has been playing AC/DC for me ever since I came out of the womb so getting to hear Black Jacket Symphony's rendition of Back in Black was the next best thing to actually being at a real AC/DC concert. They made it feel so real. If they would have had the school boy outfits on, then it would have been like you were right back in the 70's - an era I would have loved to have experienced.


    The opening song, of course, was "Hells Bells". They started off with a bang. The theater gets dark and with the stage lit in red lighting you hear the iconic bells. Chills go up your spine and your hair stand on end and you know you are about to witness some of the greatest music ever written. Next the guitar comes in and then the drums. The crowd goes wild. A mix of youngsters, who have inherited their hard taste of music from their parents, the middle-aged fans who were in the prime of their life while AC/DC were touring, and, of course, the seasoned veterans who bleed classic rock and it helped shape who they are today. Once the lead singer chimed in, you knew it was the real deal. The lighting was synced perfectly to the beat of the drums and the vocals were on point. As soon as the song was over, you knew the atmosphere was set for the perfect rock concert. 


    The crowd was engaged the whole performance. "Let Me Put My Love Into You" showed the real talent of the lead guitarist.bjsacdcbackinblack002Photo by Hollie Reid With the spotlight on him, the song begins with him ripping the guitar. Hitting every note as perfect as Angus Young. As the song reaches the chorus, everyone in the building was ready to sing their favorite part of the song. Vocals, bass, drums, guitar were all on point. Throughout the concert the guitarist was outstanding with hitting every note and performing solos. 


    Of course, to wrap up the concert and put a big red bow on it, the bag pipes made an appearance and blew everyone away. "It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll" made you want to become a rock and roll star. Hearing the bag pipes, the strong, rough, rock voice of the lead singer, the loud bass and drums beating in your chest and the guitars hitting every note perfectly was enough to make you want to give up your day job and become that rock star who tours the world in a bus. The lighting with smoke, sweat, and shots of Jager on stage while performing set the perfect atmosphere for being a hard rock junkie.