Not just a “tribute”.

I love to sing! I performed in musical productions back in high school and college. I was in college majoring in voice with a minor in business when the computer boom hit and I was offered full time work in Information Technology. I eventually worked with a wedding band named, “Night Moods”. The band was pretty successful and has quite a story of it’s own.

But in ‘1999’ I auditioned and was brought on a Dick Clark produced talent show that showcased people who they thought sounded like a famous performer (in my case Neil Diamond) but did not resemble the artist. They thought I looked like Tim (the tool man) Allen. On the show the regular folk would walk into a cloud of smoke and instantly re-appear as the artist they were portraying. That changed everything for me.

Immediately after the show I began to receive phone calls asking to perform Neil Diamond songs to open for other tribute artists. I found myself opening for “Elvis” tributes and “Frank Sinatra” tributes. But I was never like these other tributes. I didn’t look like Neil Diamond, I didn’t act like Neil Diamond and I never wanted to be Neil Diamond. I may have a vocal quality similar to him, but I never considered impersonating anyone. So I would go on stage and perform the songs but I would joke and tell personal stories making the songs my own. They became part of my show and not a replication of something done by Neil Diamond in the past. Slowly I began to move up in rankings and suddenly I was doing my own performances when Sean Kelly, a musician performing with the group “Sixpence None The Richer”, from Nashville spotted me and changed everything again.

Sean brought me to Nashville to perform, eventually creating an amazing band that would come to be known as “The Longfellows”. We performed to sold out crowds for several years performing at Grimey’s and then moving to The Mercy Lounge. Like most Nashville performers the guys in the band wanted to write and perform their own pieces and I am proud to say, they did. But that left me without a band which changed things again.

My son’s Lucas and Spenser were learning to play instruments and this would eventually lead to them becoming, “The Jewels”. Our family trio performing a Neil Diamond tribute. The performance was described as the Smothers brothers meet the Jonas brothers and their dad. Lot’s of family humor, stories of us on and off the stage and of course the music of Neil Diamond. But the boys added another dimension. With them we would do what we called, “The Six Degrees of Neil Diamond”. If we could find another artist that we could attach Neil Diamond to, we would perform a song or two from the artist. So Johnny Cash, Ricky Nelson, The Everly Brothers and Glen Campbell were added to the show. We had found a niche with this family show and in 2015/2016 the trio performed in 89 cities in 6 months. But that brought changes too.

The boys decided that maybe this life on the road might be too much. That perhaps they’d like to have lives of their own, girl friends, family… you know what I’m getting at. So I’m back to a solo performance with occasional shows performing with the boys. Watch and see as I move forward now including my first love…broadway. Stay tuned, there is another change coming.

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