Tuning In To The Familiar

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

Longtime Monterey Peninsula resident Bryan Diamond is looking forward to a change of musical pace in the near future.  Renowned for his note-perfect covers of classic rock songs, executed using just an acoustic guitar and voice, Diamond has recently completed a CD of original compositions and hopes to have it ready for release by the end of the summer.   Some shows to promote the CD are planned for the fall, but in the meantime we can regularly catch his act at several local venues.

Bryan Diamond grew up in Tarzana, in the San Fernando Valley, and started playing guitar at around age 8.  One of his earliest public musical performances came while he was at school.  “It was for a school drama presentation,” he recalled, “and we each had to recite some extensive lines from memory.  I came out with my guitar and performed Arlo Guthrie’s ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ in its entirety.”

As Diamond continued to sharpen his performing skills, so his repertoire of songs began to grow.  “I would listen to the music that I liked, and enjoyed learning to play other people’s songs,” he said.  “It didn’t occur to me until much later to start writing my own material.”

After graduating high school, Diamond traveled to Monterey to visit his older brother David.  At the time, the Peninsula had a thriving live music scene, and Diamond found an enthusiastic audience for his act.  “I started playing in the clubs and just kept it going all these years.”  Over the years, Diamond has performed both as a solo artist and with other musicians, including several years fronting a band called Osprey.

These days, Bryan Diamond can be seen entertaining the patrons of bars, clubs and restaurants all over the Peninsula and beyond.  He is an annual feature at the AT&T Pro-Am golf tournament at Pebble Beach.  Newspaper ads describe him as “the human jukebox,” a title which is well-justified, as when an audience member calls out a request, he can almost always play it.  “People in the bars where I perform like to hear the cover tunes because they’re familiar with them,” he says.  “It’s the music they grew up with and that they love.”

Diamond’s fans will have a chance to enjoy some of his self-penned tunes too when the CD is released.  The album is likely to be either self-titled or called “Summer’s Gone,” after one of the songs.  “We’re tossing around some names,” said Diamond.  Recorded at Greystone Studios in Monterey and engineered by Jim Chatterton and Richard Bryant, the album features 14 tracks co-written by Diamond and Howard Kitay, a friend and musical collaborator since school days.  The band line-up for the CD reads like a Who’s Who of top local instrumentalists, featuring Tom Ayres on guitar, Marty Lydon on bass, Don Pendergrass on keyboards, Kim Edmundson on drums and Roger Eddy, Hart Smith and Brian Stock on horns.  Katherine Reclusado, a bandmate from Osprey days, provides harmony vocals. 

Diamond is excited about his album’s upcoming release and seeing how his fans like the new material.  “I’ll be slipping a few songs from the album into my regular set, just to see what the response is,” he said.  You can hear for yourself at two shows this weekend at the Mucky Duck in Monterey and the Inn at Spanish Bay.

First published in "411", The Salinas Californian, July 1, 2004

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