Lillooet will have its very own “Hot August Night” on Saturday, Aug. 11 when Neil Diamond performance artist Jason Scott performs his “Diamond Forever A Celebration of Neil Diamond” at the Royal Canadian Legion.
The composer/performer of hits such as “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Solitary Man,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” and “Heartlight,” Diamond has earned accolades from legions of loyal fans during his six decades in show business.
Jason Scott promises his tribute show will be entertaining, high-energy and full of fun.
He told the News that Diamond has been quoted as saying that he loves tribute acts.
“He (Diamond) suggests that rather than going out and impersonating him, we put a little twist on it and have some fun,” said Scott. “My show, although I do represent the look and the voice, I don’t - when I’m standing on stage - concentrate on saying, ‘You’re going to believe I’m Neil Diamond.’ There’s only one Neil Diamond. What I do is, I create a Neil Diamond party. It’s a very, very, very audience-interactive show. At the top of the show, I put the crowd through their paces, tell them what I’m going to do during the performance, that I’m in the crowd as much as I’m on stage, and when we’re all doing a song when I’m in the crowd.”
He pauses, then laughs, “If there’s some guy on a cell phone, not paying attention, then we’ll have our way with him.”
Scott said his show also includes background stories on Diamond and the origin of the songs, a dance contest and a “huge” follow-the-bouncing ball sing-along.
“And it’s all wrapped up in a big bow by all the iconic Neil Diamond hits.”
Scott has been playing music since he was five years old and began attending a Toronto conservatory where he achieved first-degree honours and graduated at the age of 15.
He knew he wanted to be a performer the minute he saw the Beatles on TV.
“If anybody asked me what I was going to do with my life, my answer was ‘I’m going to be a rock star.’”
In his 20s, he toured extensively with nightclub and concert bands and in his ‘30s he was signed to a Canadian recording label as a singer and writer.
His producer on the album was Brian “Too Loud” MacLeod of Chilliwack and Headpins fame. Three and a half songs into the album, MacLeod died of cancer. End of album.
Scott compares being in the music to competing for a spot on an NFL team.
“There are a thousand guys and 10 spots,” he explains. “I was good enough to have the door open but then, when all that stuff comes crashing down…”
He’s been doing the Diamond shows for 17 years in various venues in Las Vegas and across Canada.
There are approximately 80 entertainers in the world who perform Neil Diamond tribute shows. Scott and 13 other Diamond performance artists recently participated in a documentary for a Florida company “on what makes us tick and why we do this.” The feature-length film is called “Diamond Mountain.
It was a fluke that he became a Neil Diamond performance artist.
One Sunday afternoon, he and his sister went down to a pub in the Lower Mainland to watch a Vancouver Canucks game. The pub also featured afternoon karaoke.
His sister encouraged him to sing “Love on the Rocks” from Neil Diamond’s recent movie, “The Jazz Singer.” He decided to give it a try, but in a lower register that was similar to Diamond’s baritone.
“They were just finishing off the karaoke and they had these big sports screens with the lyrics,” he recalls. “The guy calls my name so I got up and I kind of knew the song because I’d seen the movie. So the song begins, and I don’t know the words and I’m singing the words as the lyrics are displayed on this big sports screen. My back was to the crowd and there was this huge noise from the crowd. I spun around because I thought the Canucks had just scored and I’m looking at all the TVs and they still had all the announcers doing the pre-game stuff.”
He continues, “And I looked down and the crowd was on their feet, they had their hands in the air, and they whooping it up like Neil Diamond just fell out of my face. I absolutely surprised myself with this Neil Diamond-sounding voice…When that happened, a light went on over my head. I thought, “Hey, I haven’t finished the race around the track yet.’ So I started looking into it and it’s just turned into this crazy thing called “Diamond Forever A Celebration of Neil Diamond.”
Tickets are available at the Legion for the Dinner (Savory Beef Dip) and the Show. Dinner is at 5:30 p.m. and the Diamond Forever Show is at 7.