Originally Published: January 26, 2017 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT – They are the stick-in-your-head tunes of the 1970s, and 1980s: Song Sung Blue, Cracklin’ Rosie, Sweet Caroline, Forever in Blue Jeans.
Performer Barrie Cunningham frequently sees just how iconic the Neil Diamond hits are when he launches into one of the songs on stage. “Everyone in the audience knows the words; they’re like human teleprompters,” he said.
Cunningham – a longtime Neil Diamond-tribute performer – plans to bring his “Diamond Rocks” show to Prescott at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, at the Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center, 117 E. Gurley St. (The show was earlier planned for the previous Friday, but the Elks Theatre opted to reschedule because of snowy weather).
Cunningham, who is based in Las Vegas, has performed tributes to Diamond for decades. Over the years, he has performed with Las Vegas’ Legends in Concert, as well as his own Hot August Nights.
For the Prescott performance, Cunningham plans to bring his four-piece band – Mark Foreman on keyboards, Stevie Hagle on drums, Scotty Pearson on guitar, and Bob Sachs on bass – as well as two back-up singers, Kayla Kenzior and Laura Berger.
“Some of the band members have played with me for 20 years,” Cunningham said recently in a telephone interview from his home in Las Vegas.
Like Diamond, Cunningham also plays guitar as well for some of the songs. Indeed, he says his Diamond Rocks show will closely resemble Diamond’s own performances.
“We follow some of the most famous concerts,” Cunningham said, referring, for example, to Diamond’s 1970s-era Love at the Greek, and Hot August Night.
Along with a similar playlist, the Diamond Rocks concert also strives to capture the energy and style of Diamond’s earlier concert performances, Cunningham said.
“These are not studio versions,” he said of the Diamond Rocks repertoire. “They’ve very showy.”
Cunningham’s affinity with Diamond dates back decades to the time when both were performing in the 1960s – Cunningham as a teenage singer and guitar player playing in coffee shops and small cafes.
“People would always tell me, ‘You remind us a lot of Neil Diamond,’” he recalls, adding that he enjoying singing the Diamond songs. “Our voices are very similar, and we do look a lot alike,” he said.
Diamond’s songs continue to have a broad appeal, Cunningham said, noting that he often sees three generations of families attending his performances.
And Diamond himself continues to produce music. “He is still on tour,” Cunningham said, pointing out that Diamond recently launched a 2017 world tour. “He’s definitely still happening. He is one of the top-10 world box-office draws.”
Tickets for Diamond Rocks are available online at: http://www.prescottelkstheater.com/, or at the Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center, 117E. Gurley St., in downtown Prescott.