After spending decades exploring the many avenues of professional music — writing, recording, touring and performing — performer Jason Scott found his true calling while playing at a bar in the late 1990s. Just seconds after launching into a Neil Diamond tune with his back to the crowd, he was surprised to hear the crowd respond with a huge roar.
“I spin around thinking the Canucks just scored,” he said. “But the crowd was all on their feet screaming Neil Diamond. Neil Diamond had just fallen out of my face, and that’s when the light went on over my head. I thought, maybe there’s a few more laps for the old horse around the track before he has to go.”
One of those laps will be in Penticton at the Orchard House, where he’s booked to perform Diamond Forever.
Having been born into an encouraging family, Scott has considered himself a musician longer than he can remember.
“I basically always knew what I was going to do for a living,” he said. “I didn’t really have a choice.”
Scott identifies as “the quintessential pop culture radio music kid.” While he was performing hits off the radio at a bar, an intense crowd reaction was able to shift the direction of his career. When he began to sing a Neil Diamond tune with his back to the crowd, his voice drew a big roar from the audience only a couple seconds into the first verse, and that took a moment to sink it.
Having been a fan of popular music all his life, Scott remembers hearing new Neil Diamond hits on the radio throughout the years of his upbringing. While he was working as a paperboy, he recalled using his thumb to hold a transistor radio up against his handlebars, ensuring the maximum amount of time was spent listening to music.
“Neil was always present on the radio,” he said. “Every year there was another Neil Diamond hit, sometimes twice in a year there would be another hit. He was writing hits almost as fast as The Beatles.”
Scott has trouble taking count of Diamond’s entire repertoire, though it’s easy to keep his material fresh by rotating the song selection. And he always includes “that song” on every setlist (Sweet Caroline).
“You can’t not do that one,” he said. “They’ll burn the place down if they don’t get to hear that once.”
That base of demanding Neil Diamond fans is growing, he said.
“Neil’s music is iconic and ageless. Every year there are more and more legions of Neil Diamond fans getting on board the bandwagon.”
Some of those new fans are recruited during Diamond Forever performances by Scott. Around a dozen times each year he said, parents tell him how their children have been converted.
“They’ll say, ‘I brought my kid to this show kicking and screaming all the way.’ These are the kids that are just getting out of the Beiber phase but haven’t quite discovered the Beatles and that formula of rock ’n’ roll,” he said. “By the end of the show their kids were like, ‘where can I get a Neil Diamond album?’”
Tickets cost $26 and are available at the Grooveyard. The show starts at 8 p.m. on Nov. 21 and cocktails are at 7 p.m.