By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — The command and mastery of Glenn Armstrong and Gary Gomez may fool you into believing Neil Diamond is on the Paramount’s stage this Sunday.
When the talent of Gomez met the experience of Armstrong, a partnership was formed that brought new meaning to a Neil Diamond tribute band. Not content to simply play cover songs of the great artist, the Diamond Project Band recreates the experience of seeing the legend live on stage.
“When we met, he was the lead singer in a Neil Diamond tribute band that mostly played in bars,” recalled Armstrong, a professional musician who began performing for audiences at age 8. “He has an amazing voice and I was interested in working with him.”
Having been the producer and business manager of an award-winning, internationally-touring Elvis tribute show for 20 years, Armstrong knew exactly how to develop a show fit for large venues.
“The first step was to find a really good band,” said Armstrong. “That was made easier because I was used to Elvis and he approached music the same way. I already understood who to look for in drums and instruments. It took us two years to find the right group and rehearse together.”
The What: The Diamond Project Band will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at The Paramount Theatre, 1124 Meridian Plaza, in Anderson, The cost is $20 and tickets are available at the box office.
Armstrong’s musical history stretches back to his grandfathers, who sang and played guitar and trumpet. His uncles were members of the Soul Brother’s Six, who originally wrote and recorded “Some Kind of Wonderful.” His father even landed two successful records with Motown. Growing up in a family band, Armstrong has always been on stage.
Gomez’s story is almost the opposite.
“I was a shy person and never liked singing karaoke,” admitted Gomez. “I liked singing in the shower. But then I had a mid-life crisis and I auditioned for the Diamond tribute band and they hired me.”
After playing with the Diamond Mind for four years, Gomez wanted to take the show to an entirely different level. Not content to play in bars, he was looking for a bigger sound and larger crowds.
Although the show started in the fall of 2012, it has already been met with great success. All their dinner shows have been sold out and the band is looking to build an annual rotation in theatres.
“The unique thing about my tribute bands is that I’m a firm believer in letting musicians use their God-given abilities,” said Armstrong. “When we cover songs, we are not emulating the sound. We learn the song and get to the emotional message and then try to recapture that. It’s a tribute to the message. That’s what set apart our Elvis show and made it so successful.”
In an effort to recapture the feeling of a live Neil Diamond performance, the band studied the music from the 2008 live recordings.
“Those recordings have a special energy – which is why they were a top grossing tour,” said Armstrong. “We studied those arrangements. Our version is based off the emotion in this performance instead of a studio recording.”
Because Armstrong has played the Paramount before, he is excited for the opportunity afforded by the historic stage.
“I really enjoy performing at the Paramount,” he said. “It’s such a beautiful place.”
If you go
What: The Diamond Project Band
When: Sunday, August 4 at 7:30 p.m
Where: The Paramount Theatre, 1124 Meridian Plaza, Anderson. Cost: $20.
Contact the box office at 642-1234 www.thediamondprojectband.com