O.B. James 1 p.m., March 7
David J. Sherry
RIYL: Neil Diamond
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- "What happens in Amsterdam" · Sept. 18, 2013
Influences: Neil Diamond
David J. Sherry fronts Diamond Is Forever!, a Neil Diamond tribute band founded in 2005. Sherry works on the side as a video editor, while backup singer Ce Ce Taylor is a retired California attorney who also serves as the band’s manager. Band members live all over the county, including Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Encinitas, El Cajon, Escondido, and La Jolla.
Asked what distinguishes his neo-Neil from others doing the Diamond, Sherry says, “First and foremost, it’s our passion for getting the music and performance right, unlike other tributes like Super Diamond, who do more of a Diamond-meets-Bon Jovi metal sound.”
“We recreate the popular late-’70s and early-’80s Jazz Singer Diamond,” says Sherry, who was 13 when he purchased his very first album in 1969, Diamond’s Live at the Troubadour. “[We use] costumes, smoke and mirrors, and a huge American flag that unfurls during ‘America,’ à la Diamond’s own concerts. We work hard to capture the feel and the excitement of Neil’s Hot August Night and Love at the Greek concerts, using dialogue taken directly from these concerts, as well as [telling] stories behind the songs.”
According to Sherry, “We sometimes mix the best studio versions of his songs along with the best live concert tempos. For example, we perform ‘Shilo’ very much like the live concert version from Hot August Night, along with a mandolin part not present on the original Uni Records single and also layering in Diamond’s original signature horn lines taken from his Bang Records single.”
Sometimes, Sherry says, his Diamond finds itself in the rough, as in February ’08 when they played an aging theater in Encinitas. “The moment we took the stage, things started going wrong. During the first song, someone flipped a switch in the projection room to rewind a movie reel and blew out the fuses, not once but three times, knocking out all the sound.”
In addition, “San Diego was experiencing one of its coldest spells in history, and the theater, being 80 years old, had no heat. Players were blowing on their fingers to keep them from going numb. Not only did the fog machine compete with the frozen breath of the band members and audience, but the big American flag refused to unfurl.”
During the performance, “A dog ran up and down the aisles and rows of seats, startling people and scavenging all the edibles…We found out later the dog was a local celebrity, having made an unexpected appearance onstage the prior weekend with Leon Russell.”
In summer 2012, the band embarked on a six-week overseas tour that included TV performances in Malta.
"Europe was just incredible. [I] love Berlin, which is being considered by many as the new Paris, also loads of fun and nostalgia visiting the Beatles old early 60s stomping grounds the Reeperbaum, with the Indra Club, the remains of the Star Club and all in Hamburg. Lost my camera there, so the only photos I have of Hamburg are in my head, but that's okay. Next visit."
This tour brought Sherry to his former homeland of Malta for the second time in six months, after having been away almost 35 years. "One exciting moment was meeting Malta's King of Rock 'n' Roll, Freddie Portelli. I have records of his in my collection from when I was a teen in Malta, and he was sooo cool wanting to meet with me. He expressed he is really proud of what I have archived and was so complimentary about my performance and connection with my audience and about my band."
"I was amazed how much Maltese I could remember and actually speak which helped all the way around and made my TV and radio audiences respond even more favorably."
The tour wrapped with a last-minute performance booked at the Hard Rock Cafe in Berlin, Germany on the 4th of July, 2012. His summer 2013 album Glory Road contains 16 tracks recorded with his Diamond Is Forever! Band. Taking personal inspiration from the title track (“It tells the story of a regular guy with a special dream”), Sherry went to Morgan Ranch Studios in Encinitas to record covers such as “Sweet Caroline,” “September Morn,” “Hell Yeah,” “Holly Holy,” “I Am...I Said,” and “The Boat That I Row.”
A video was filmed for the title track while Sherry spent a month in Europe doing TV and radio appearances. “We shot all over London,” says Sherry, who once played a nine-month U.K. residency at age 20.