After a concert in Sacramento, a woman from the audience came up to Frank House and told him she’d never had the chance to go to a Journey concert.
“Now I feel like I have,” she told him.
House, guitarist Val Popovic, keyboardist Kevin Jachetta, bassist Dave Sousa and drummer David Hawkes aren’t Journey, but they are the next best thing: Journey Revisited, a tribute band focused on recreating the experience.
“We will dress the part, we will take on the mannerisms of the band members, and we just want them to walk away and go, ‘Wow, I was at a Journey concert,’” House said.
But it’s the music that’s really important, Popovic said.
He got his start in the world of music playing a tamburiza, a traditional Yugoslavian instrument. But his brother, a rock fan, turned him on to KISS, AC/DC, Black Sabbath and, of course, Journey. He begged his dad for a flea market guitar and learned to play his favorite songs.
“I was really drawn to that type of music. I love rock music,” Popovic said.
That led to a part in a KISS tribute band, as well as playing with some original groups, but what he really wanted was to put together a Journey tribute.
First, he found Jachetta.
“He sounds just like Gregg Rolie,” Popovic said.
The two of them teamed up, and were soon joined by Sousa, who Popovic calls one of the best in the business. Then, they pulled in Hawkes.
“He’s a pro, pro, pro drummer,” Popovic said.
Last but definitely not least, they had to find a vocalist, and that was a real challenge.
“To fill the shoes of Steve Perry? Come on. That’s pretty hard to do,” he said.
Enter Sacramento singer-songwriter House. He reached out to the band and asked if they needed a backup vocalist. Popovic called him and asked if he thought he was better than their current talent.
House said yes, so they gave him an audition.
“This guy really sings,” Popovic said.
House doesn’t just try to sound like Perry, he said. He puts everything into the music.
For House, being part of a band is a totally different experience than the singer-songwriter circuit.
“There’s something about being on stage with your bandmates in front of a large audience that just can’t be replaced,” he said.
So with all that talent, why put together a tribute show?
“As a performer, you just love to see people having a great time and enjoying what you do,” Popovic said.
Plus, it’s just plain fun.
“How can you not have a good time when you’re playing the songs that make people feel good?” he said.
House agreed. And it helps that they all love Journey, he added.
“We just associate that music with all the great memories we had growing up,” he said.
Journey Revisited works hard not just to recreate the legendary band’s concerts, but to bring the audience fully into the experience. They encourage people to sing along with the show, House said, and go down into the audience to shake hands.
After each show, they stick around to share their Journey enthusiasm for the fans who turn out to their concerts.
And turn out they do. Journey Revisited often plays to sold-out audiences. At a recent Redwood City concert, they weren’t expecting a huge crowd — they were following another Journey tribute by a couple of weeks, and a third was right on their heels.
The show sold out a week in advance.
“Some people have seen us like nine times,” Popovic said, laughing.
Journey Revisited covers Journey’s hits, the ones that everyone knows: “Wheel in the Sky,” “Any Way You Want It,” “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” and, of course, “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
But they also like to bring in some of their earlier, less widely known songs.
The goal is to give the audience a great time, have fun themselves, and put on an authentic show.
The band promises a fantastic concert, and hopes the rock fans of Lodi will come see for themselves.
“I would honestly say we’re the most authentic concert experience for the band Journey that you can find,” House said.