How do you find the “Highway to Hell” from Sacramento? Ask the Jacks!
If we’re going to talk about the Jacks, the local AC/DC cover band made up of pop band the Miles plus singer Dale Patterson, let’s get one thing straight. “Call it a homage, not a tribute, to AC/DC,” said Patterson with a smile.
Homage indeed. Patterson and Miles leader Dave Brockman are both what conservatively could be called huge fans of AC/DC. Their love of one of the greatest hard-rock bands of all time spans decades back to grade-school days. Perhaps it was AC/DC guitarist Angus Young’s schoolboy-from-hell look that captured the young lads.
Patterson and Brockman met at the True Love Coffeehouse a few years back and discovered a mutual affection for all things AC/DC. Patterson told Brockman that if he ever felt like getting together to play some of the band’s tunes, Patterson could sing like AC/DC’s first singer, the late Bon Scott.
“I was thinking, ‘Yeah, that would be cool. But odds are he’s full of shit,’” Brockman laughed. After all, Scott had a distinctively powerful voice, pinched and nasally sounding, with just the right amount of sneer and bravado in it for the hard rock of AC/DC.
Eventually, the two decided to give it a try for a Miles show at the True Love, right before the venue closed its doors in 2004. Patterson joined the band (which also includes guitarist Ben Fargen, bassist Shawn Hale and drummer Garin Casaleggio) at the end of the set for “Whole Lotta Rosie” and brought down the house. The guys had so much fun that they began talking about making it a regular thing.
A lot more goes into coming off like AC/DC than just learning the chords and going for it. “You need the voice, and you need the lead guitar, and the rest of it is just paying attention to detail,” Brockman said.
One such detail is the deceptively simple sound of AC/DC’s music. For a loud rock band, there is a lot of space in AC/DC’s songs, as well as drumming that Brockman and Patterson—both drummers themselves—say is straightforward yet subtle in its approach.
“You have that and these syncopated guitar riffs, and it’s not really that wall of sound that everybody associates with loud rock music,” Brockman said.
Everyone in the Jacks enthusiastically researches to come up with the myriad details on playing and presentation necessary to make a tribute band into a homage. The Jacks wear similar clothing to AC/DC—even going so far as to don appropriate wigs. Heck, the players even stand like AC/DC did onstage, with Fargen hopping around like a wild Young and Patterson strutting like Scott.
“This is the most fun I’ve ever had in a rock ’n’ roll band!” Patterson enthused. “I’ve had a lot of fun in the bands I’ve played in, but when I’m up there singing these songs, and people are pumping their fists and screaming, it’s weird! It’s not an ego thing; it’s fun!”
“It’s not work,” Brockman explained. “I think the reason it works is that everyone is dedicated to the reproduction of the music. And as many hours as we spend on it, it never seems like work.”
The Miles have not been abandoned and will continue doing shows, but the musicians all want to continue with the Jacks, too—if nothing else, just for the sheer fun of it.
“When we played the show at Old I, I swear I could hear the wind move from people’s heads whipping around from the bar area to the stage area, and, for the first time in my musical career, people actually left the bar area to come in and hear a song. It was great!” Patterson said, smiling at the recollection.
So, if you’re a fan of early AC/DC, come check out the latest tribute, nay, homage band in town.