It'll be a hot August night in June with Neil Diamond tribute show Sunday at Elks
Musician Dean Colley thought he would never do a "tribute show" until someone told him he "looked like Neil Diamond."
At the time, he was watching a tribute to Elton John and exclaimed, "I would never do something like that" to the agent who booked the show, but when the agent told him he stood a chance of making a better living, it gave him pause. Six months later, the agent called Colley to tell him he had a booking for him - and he had three months to put a tribute to Neil Diamond together for a Chino, Calif., concert in the park event.
"I hadn't learned one Neil Diamond song," Colley said, "and all of a sudden I had a booking three months away. I kind of panicked."
Colley headed to a record store to look at Neil Diamond vinyl record album covers to see if he looked like the singer. "I didn't think I did," he said. Nevertheless, he put a band together, rehearsed twice a week and "had 25 songs to learn in two months."
"I had to learn how to sing like him and I had to learn how to play acoustic guitar," Colley, a bass guitarist, said. And on top of all that, Colley had to find a seamstress with expertise to make Neil Diamond shirts, pants and other attire typical of the star's look.
When it came time for the concert in the park and Colley took the stage, "I was terrified," he said, because never before had he emulated a star of such stature. "But I got through it."
The audience will see that Colley has come a long way since that first Diamond tribute 17 years ago on Sunday, June 23, when "Hot August Night - A Tribute to Neil Diamond" heats up the Elks Opera House stage. The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22 to $25 and are available by calling the opera house box office at 777-1370 or logging onto www.elksoperahouse.com.
Colley, a Californian, has worked multiple jobs at a time, but never lost his determination to "make it in the music business." His turning point came in 2004, when he began to focus solely on his Hot August Night band and its performances.
On Sunday, Diamond fans will hear some of the icon's big hits as well as his more obscure songs.
"I want the audience to feel like a Neil Diamond experience is happening," Colley said.