The chances of having AC/DC make a return trip to Maine to perform are slim to none, but there is a band that will definitely go a long way in satisfying your craving for some infectious Aussie rock ‘n’ roll. The five-piece (six, if you count a bagpiper performing on “It’s A Long Way To The Top”) tribute band known as Back in Black began back in 1990 and have been faithfully been pleasing both hard-core and casual fans for 28 years now, with not only the greatest hits of AC/DC but some of the deeper cuts as well.

The band is made up of Tony Sitler (as both lead singers Bon Scott and Brian Johnson), Miguel Goncalves (as bassist Cliff Williams), Bobby Sitler (as rhythm guitarist Malcom Young), Dan Molkenthin (as lead guitarist Angus Young), John Myslinski (as drummer Phil Rudd), and Kerry (as himself on bagpipes). This group is heading to the Somerset Abbey in Madison for a performance on Friday, July 27, and to that end I recently called Tony Sitler while the band was in Massachusetts preparing for a gig.

Q: Have you guys ever played at the Somerset Abbey before?

Sitler: We had played there last summer and it was, I’d say, a rousing success. I know the good people there at the Abbey were very pleased so they let us know right away after the show that we’d be coming back. We’ve been looking forward to it all year.

Q: And was that your first time there?

Sitler: Yeah, it was.

Q: Do you get up to Maine a lot to play?

Sitler: Yeah, over our 28-year period we’ve performed everywhere from right on the Canadian border in Madawaska and we’ve gone all the way to the southern tip of Florida in our day. Now we’re more centrally located; we play mostly just New England and the mid-Atlantic region. We go as far south as Virginia.

Q: Are you fairly busy most of the time?

Sitler: We’re as busy as we want to be, believe it or not, because most of the guys in the band have day jobs and lives other than the band now. We’re mostly weekend warriors playing every Friday and Saturday.

Q: Could you talk a little about your set lists? Do you mix the Bon Scott material and the Brian Johnson songs together?

Sitler: We try to keep our set lists balanced, we have just about as many new AC/DC, and by that I mean with Brian Johnson as the vocalist, as we do the old stuff. And each night when I write a set list out I try to keep it fairly balanced. An even amount of new and old songs. I even try to mix them up during the set, I don’t do a bunch of the same together. I’ll do a couple of Bon Scott and a couple of Brian songs and I just keep bouncing back and forth.

Q: Do you do the same sets relatively all the time? What determines a set?

Sitler: When it’s a corporate event or a festival where you’re playing in a town green and you basically have an audience from eight months to 88 years old, you pretty much have to go out there and perform AC/DC’s greatest hits. We have no problem doing that, we can do it, but some of the places we’ve been playing for 27 years have rabid fans and they want to hear the deeper cuts. We’re able to do that, too. I mean, we actually get to perform songs that you’ll never see AC/DC play and that’s sort of an advantage to coming and seeing a tribute band, I guess.

Q: Were you and Miguel the founders of Back in Black?

Sitler: Miguel was actually the originator and I believe I was the first singer that he showed an interest in so, yeah, he and I are original members from the 1990 lineup. The position that we’ve had the hardest time keeping filled is actually the lead guitar player, believe it or not. Over my 28 years I’ve probably performed with 30 different Anguses .

Q: Oh, my word!

Sitler: Yeah. Some of them were borrowed from another AC/DC tribute band, some were just a one-time fill-in. Now, over the years we’ve had about five or six permanent Anguses that have rotated in and out. Our current Angus has been with us about five years — he’s a young fellow. He’s 29 years old, and he’s from Pennsylvania and the best thing about Dan is that’s he’s young, he’s very energetic, he’s an incredible musician — he’s not your typical young guy. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t partake in any illicit substances, so we don’t have to worry about him showing up to a gig sloppy. He has a college degree and his major was music, and, believe it or not, his primary instrument is piano; guitar was his second and he’s amazing.

Q: As far as responsiveness goes, how do you find the audiences up here in Maine?

Sitler: We’ve always been treated really well up in Maine. It seems that the crowds are more appreciative than those in the big cities when you go up there with a quality product. The blue collar crowds in Maine are right up our alley. In the end, it’s all on how well you played the music and (whether) you entertain the crowd. We are traditionally a bar band, we’re not a corporate event band, we’re not going to be invited down to Disneyland anytime soon. I don’t think anybody’s saving a spot on a cruise ship for us because we’re just down and dirty, and that’s where we shine. We shine on that element where people are drinking, having a good time and cutting loose. For two hours we want to make people forget about their rent, their mortgage or their job. Just forget about things for a while and for two hours let’s have some fun. I mean, you’re going to wake up tomorrow and the world’s still going to be there, so let’s do this and have some fun.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Sitler: Just that I hope the people that come out are ready to have a good time because we’re ready to lay it down, man!

Lucky Clark, winner of a 2018 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award, has spent 49 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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