Contributed photo                                Jason Scott says he’s happy helping audiences experience the positive message of Neil Diamond’s music.

Contributed photo Jason Scott says he’s happy helping audiences experience the positive message of Neil Diamond’s music.

Diamond celebration

Jason Scott’s tribute to legendary entertainer, at Legion Branch 8, includes audience interaction

Kootenay-based performer Jason Scott – headliner of Diamond Forever, A Celebration of Neil Diamond – may have found the recipe for happiness in the music industry.

The internationally recognized tribute artist – who will bring his show to the Royal Canadian Legion White Rock Branch 8 on Thursday, June 15, at 7 p.m. – says that has a lot to do with Diamond himself.

“It comes from a great message,” Scott told Peace Arch News. “He writes about love, instead of whatever the opposite of that is. It’s always a positive message – in spite of all the trips and downfalls and misfortunes that have come Neil’s way, which I touch on in the show.

“I think that that’s why he’s able to relate so well to all the fans. Every year he grows more and more of a following. And when he tours now – and he’s still touring – he grosses in the top 10.”

Scott is the only Canadian featured in the recent documentary movie Diamond Mountain, a tribute to the relatively small coterie of Diamond-tribute artists (around 80 compared with the seemingly thousands of Elvises making the rounds).

While Scott works hard to evoke Diamond’s look and sound when performing indestructible hits like Sweet Caroline, Love on the Rocks and Hello Again, he emphasizes that his act is a celebration of the music – and a fund of stories and trivia about Diamond – rather than simply an impersonation.

And while people could be sitting at home listening to old albums, when they come to the show they are coming together as a community to actively engage in the celebration, he adds.

“It’s a very energetic performance and, as a result, the audience soaks up that energy,” he said. “The audience is actually part of the show. There are clap-alongs and sing-alongs – it sometimes feels like the audience is doing the show for me.”

Scott, an Ontario native who’d spent some 25 years in the business as a front man in bar bands, had worked his way up to a label-signed artist in the early ’80s when his producer, Brian MacLeod of the band Chilliwack, died of cancer and their album project fell apart without his guidance.

“You always want to work your way out of the basement of rock and roll and into the upper echelons,” he said.

The Diamond tribute means Scott can do comfortable weekend gigs across Canada, never flying less than business class, and work the rest of the week on projects in his home studio.

The other big plus for him, he said, is that as someone who comes from a military family – starting with his grandfather’s service in the First World War – his preference for Legion venues for his shows is a chance to promote membership, and plug their continuing importance as an accessible venue for affordable live entertainment.

Tickets ($25) are available from the Legion, at 2290 152 St., or by calling 604-531-2422.