Originally Published: February 13, 2014 6:01 a.m.
"Hot August Night" will heat up the Elks Opera House stage Saturday evening in a tribute show to superstar Neil Diamond.
The performance's headliner, Dean Colley, has been doing the tribute show full-time for the past nine years, and began when someone offered him the opportunity to emulate the American singer and songwriter because Colley "looked like" the famous entertainer.
"I took him up on it," said Colley, who had played in bar bands and was always the lead singer from the time he was 23 years old.
His new role paying tribute to Diamond brought challenges, Colley said. "I learned how to play acoustic guitar," and most important, "I learned how to sing like him."
"He's a very complicated character to get into," Colley said of Diamond, adding that every six years or so, Diamond has changed his wardrobe and his musical style. 'There's a whole body of Neil Diamond's music out there."
But, for Colley's shows, "We try to focus on the late '70s and '80s," he said. "That's when he was the hottest, and people got to know him as a global artist. He is a very prolific entertainer."
"Hot August Night - A Tribute to Neil Diamond" starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22 to $25 and can be ordered by calling the Elks Opera House box office at 777-1370 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday or going online to www.elksoperahouse.com.
Colley prefers some of Diamond's songs over others, he said, that's why he and his band have chosen the '70s and '80s hits.
Overall, Diamond's repertoire "grows on you when you get into it and it becomes familiar to you," Colley said. "That's what his body of music does to me."
So that he can do the job right in performing Diamond's songs, Colley has watched videos of Diamond's performances throughout the various phases of his career and immersed himself in the different versions of each tune he has performed.
He knows that "if you are not a good musician and haven't done your homework, you're probably going to flub it."
Colley, who lives in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and his tribute show travel to various venues and "manage to stay pretty busy all the time," he said.
B. Conrad of TAD Management, producer of the show, gives testimony to the success of Colley's ensemble.
"Having been a part of Neil Diamond's record label team for close to 15 years and as a promoter of Neil's concerts on a number of occasions, 'Hot August Night' is the most accurate depiction of a Neil show that we've seen, and tribute shows are our business."
This weekend, the Elks Opera House will be observing its 109th anniversary. During the show's intermission, Elisabeth Ruffner, president of the Elks Opera House Foundation, will present the Elisabeth F. Ruffner Service Award to this year's recipient. Accompanying Ruffner in the presentation will be Barbara Watkins, a foundation board member, and Marilyn Henze, who won the award last year in recognition of her dedication to the restoration of the opera house and her philanthropy.