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3:45 PM Thu, Oct. 18th

Emulating Neil Diamond becomes more natural the more he does it, Cunningham says

Though Neil Diamond recently retired, Prescott can get the next best thing with Diamond Rocks at the Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center this weekend.

Starring Barrie Cunningham, who said he has been performing as a tribute to Diamond with Legends in Concert for more than 25 years, the show is at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26.

The path to becoming a tribute for Diamond came when performing at The Bitter End in New York City, when he was playing mostly folk and rockabilly music, Cunningham said. There, he caught his first glimpse of the man who was one of the regular performers, he said.

“I kind of started listening to more of Neil’s music and including some of his songs in my song list for gigs that I was playing, but it was never done as a tribute or anything,” Cunningham said. “I just liked some of his songs; they came easy for me to sing.”

Still the two of them looked and sounded similar, and when Legends in Concert became popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Cunningham went to a show, and a producer commented he looked a lot like Diamond and wondered if he’d thought about doing a tribute, he said. Later, he was brought to the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas and hired by them, Cunningham said.

Tickets for the Friday night show are $25 for adults and $22 for seniors and can be purchased online at www.prescottelkstheater.com, by calling 928-777-1370 or at the door one hour prior to the performance. There are not very many tickets left.

It’s been a great steady gig for many years, Cunningham said.

“The steadiness of the work is great; you’re performing with world class musicians and other world class tribute artists,” he said. “I’ve traveled worldwide from Japan to Australia to Germany. Many, many countries doing these tributes.”

As Cunningham continues performing as a tribute to Diamond, emulating him and studying him, the more natural the show has become, Cunningham said. When he gets on stage, a lot of his moves just become natural to him, he said.

Cunningham isn’t the only show at the Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center, 117 E. Gurley St., this weekend. Motown Magic is performing a show saluting the decades of Motown chart topping hit artists such as The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27.

Attempts to reach Ron Stevenson, a member of the group, were unsuccessful. Tickets are $25 for adults and $22 for seniors and can be purchased online at www.prescottelkstheater.com, by calling 928-777-1370 or at the door one hour prior to the performance. There are not very many tickets left for this show either.

For more information, visit www.prescottelkstheater.com