From a rockstars swagger to belting out tunes of an iconic crooner, former Penticton man Jason Scott has found his brass ring.
“It is kind of like a gunslinger from the old days. You are the lead singer in a rock band and life is at your beck and call. You get whatever you want and have people eating up your music. That is power. Then it all disappears,” said Scott. “Now the brass ring isn’t getting the record contract.”
Getting down the look, the sound and moves of Neil Diamond became Scott’s new mission. And he jumped in with both feet, but it took a big slap in the face to get there. After signing a record contract with a label in Vancouver in 1989, Scott’s friend Brian MacLeod (of the Headpins and Chilliwack fame) began producing it. Six months in, MacLeod was diagnosed with cancer and shortly after Scott’s good friend died and so did the distribution deal.
“I thought, well I put in my 20 year’s and I was on the ferris wheel and went for the brass ring a number of times and it didn’t work out. I basically went into the bar business after,” recalls Scott.
One night he ended up at a karaoke bar with his sister and she asked him to sing a song for her, picking out Love On The Rocks.
“The Vancouver Canucks were playing on the TVs and the only screen for the lyrics was on the sport screen at the front so you sung with your back to the crowd. I started singing and all of sudden there was this big whoop in the crowd and I thought the Canucks had scored. I spin around and the crowd are all on their feet screaming about this Neil Diamond thing.”
As the frontman for a rock band, Scott was always standing on his tiptoes trying to reach high notes, Diamond took him to his lower register, something he hadn’t really explored.
“My sister said, ‘You are bang on Neil Diamond.’ A light went on over my head and I began experimenting with it,” said Scott.
Despite being completely disillusioned after his close friend McLeod died, everything started to fall in place for him to become a Neil Diamond tribute artist. That was 15 years ago. Since then Scott was awarded the Sunburst Convention of Celebrity Tribute Artists award in 2010, second place in the Vegas Tribute Idol and an invite to perform as the opening act for the headlining Country Superstars show at the Golden Nugget Showroom in Las Vegas. He was also nominated for a Reel Award, considered the Oscar of the tribute industry. Last year, Scott returned to Las Vegas to perform on the Fremont Street stage, breaking attendance records on a Tuesday night.
“When you pull something off like this you get tears in your eyes. Diamond is very charismatic and when he swings his arms to the left everyone looks to the left. I have seen him live twice and it is electric and only a few people in the world have that presence,” said Scott.
Now he is bringing his tribute act to a place he holds dear to his heart.
“Penticton is our adopted hometown for my family. My dad (Doug Pritchard) worked as the city administrator in the 80s, my sisters basically ruled Penticton during that time in their late teens,” said Scott.
Jason Scott’s Diamond Forever a Celebration of Neil Diamond will be at the Penticton Royal Canadian Legion on July 27. Tickets are $25 and include a roast beef dinner at 6 p.m. with the show starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the Penticton Legion.