The Johnson Brothers Band has performed some of the great albums of rock 'n' roll, including The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, in their entirety.
And in recent years, they have served as the pit orchestra for some of the great rock operas, including Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair.
This weekend, the group, which bills itself as a rock repertory orchestra, will merge those experiences in its co-presentation, with Actors Guild of Lexington, of Tommy: The Concert, a staged version of the classic rock opera by The Who.
"It's not the Broadway production," Johnson Brothers guitarist Jim Gleason says of the show at Buster's Billiards and Backroom. "This is a concert. It's The Who's album more integrated with theatrical elements."
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Unlike a pit orchestra, the band will be on stage, and members will even sing some songs and background vocals. But unlike a straight concert, there will be costumed singers on stage performing some of the classics, including Pinball Wizard and I'm Free.
"There are times it feels more like I am the singer for a band," says Adam Richard Fister, a well-traveled Lexington musical theater performer who will play the title role. "It can feel more like a rock concert."
Fister is one of several in the cast of Lexington theater regulars who also has a little rock 'n' roll in his background.
"I played a little guitar, bass and drums," said Tom Phillips, who plays several characters. "But I never was a frontman, so it's cool to be able to do this."
For Tim X. Davis, who plays Tommy's father, the show is a chance to relive some of his old band days.
"Rehearsing in Buster's the other night," he said, "reminded me of some of the bars I used to play in."
Leif Erickson Rigney, who plays Uncle Ernie, has entertained dreams of fronting a rock band, "like everyone," he says. "But this is the first time I have gotten to do this."
Like many an album-rock radio listener, Rigney came into Tommy familiar with the hits but not with the whole show.
"There's a lot about identity," says Rigney, an associate professor of English at Bluegrass Community and Technical College. "It asks who we are, really, and everyone is trying to make Tommy into what they want him to be.
"It's highly symbolic of all our quests for identity."
The story centers on a boy, Tommy, who endures a horrific childhood to become a messianic cultural icon as a deaf, dumb and blind pinball champion.
"It's a story that is still relevant today," says Gleason, who remembers seeing The Who perform Tommy live in 1970, shortly after performing it at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. "Plus, the idea of doing the whole thing is pretty daunting. Roger Daltrey is a big challenge. Nobody writes rock anthems the way The Who does."
The Johnson Brothers performed Tommy once before, in the late 1990s.
"It has to be right, because everyone is expecting it to be," Gleason says. "I think we're a little more mature band than the first time we did this. There is a lot of personality that comes through when we perform it."
That personality, Gleason says, is akin to a major league baseball player: "He still enjoys it like a kid," Gleason says. "But he takes it seriously."