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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Black Jacket Symphony offers rock fans an escape courtesy of Journey

The Black Jacket Swill perform for rock-lovers Friday at the Fox in Spokane.  (Courtesy)

You never know where or how an entertainer will be discovered. After Ryan Christopher sang the Journey classic “Don’t Stop Believin’” at a karaoke bar in Tennessee in 2005, a guitarist approached the fledgling singer-songwriter.

“He spoke with me about how well I sung ‘Don’t Stop Believin’,” Christopher said. “I didn’t think it was a big deal. I sung some Journey songs in a cover band I was in and that’s just what I do as a singer.

“I also had no idea how big Journey or cover bands were or are. The guitarist said, ‘I’m going to tell you what a tribute band is all about.’ ”

Christopher took the next step and is the focal point of Black Jacket Symphony’s latest tour, which showcases Journey’s finest album, 1981’s “Escape.”

“That Journey record is great from front to back,” Christopher said.

That’s just how Black Jacket Symphony will deliver the album Friday at the Fox. “Escape” is Journey’s breakthrough release with three top 10 singles, the ballads “Open Arms,” and “Who’s Crying’ Now” and the band’s aforementioned signature song, “Don’t Stop Believin’.” “Stone in Love” remains a staple on rock radio.

After Black Jacket Symphony plays “Escape” in its entirety, the band delivers an array of Journey’s hits.

“What surprised me after playing a few of these shows is that the song that gets the biggest response is ‘Open Arms,’ ” Christopher said. “I never would have guessed that a ballad would be the favorite song of the night.”

What drives those classic Journey albums from the 1980s is the wide range of vocalist Steve Perry.

“There’s no doubt that Perry pushed Journey to another level,” Christopher said. “There is no voice quite like his.”

Well, Christopher sounds like the rocker, who has an apt nickname, “The Voice.”

“Ryan is the right guy to sing Journey songs,” Black Jacket Symphony producer Jason Rogoff said. “Our Journey shows are going over very well.”

Black Jacket Symphony, which formed in 2009, features tours around classic rock band’s finest albums. BJS has embarked on jaunts featuring the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” among other classic collections.

“It’s time now for Journey, which has had such a resurgence thanks to TikTok, movies, television shows and more,” Rogoff said. “We look for albums that span generations. Journey’s ‘Escape’ is definitely one of those albums that reaches many music fans. The album is so solid from the start and has their biggest songs and the band just doesn’t stop. Pun intended.

“We very much look forward to the show in Spokane since we’ve been there a number of times and it’s a city that just loves its classic rock. It’s a perfect match for Black Jacket Symphony.”