Arts Inc. event brings music of Neil Diamond to Roundhouse

Jack Wright performs for Neil Diamond fans during his Evanston performance on Friday, Sept. 20. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — Arts Inc.’s special fundraiser at the Roundhouse on Friday, Sept. 20, with performer Jack Wright singing the hit songs of Neil Diamond was a success with more than 125 people attending.

Wright’s professional and authentic performance was an inspiring tribute to Diamond, whose hit songs have remained popular for decades and whose records have sold more than one million worldwide. Neil Diamond was a rising pop music star of the 1960s and his songs still inspire fans.

“In 1966, Neil sold one of his songs to the ‘Monkees’ band. That song was a number one hit for seven weeks and Diamond wished he had never sold it. Guess what that song was? It became the movie ‘Shrek’s’ theme song,” Wright told the audience.

 As the band began to play that song, the audience joined with Wright in singing, “I’m a Believer.”  

Wright’s band included bass player James Walker, lead guitar Gordon Lustig, Ron Kori on the keyboard, and Larry Ruckman on drums. Wright interspersed stories about Diamond throughout the evening. 

Many of Diamond’s hit songs were on the play list for the evening and the audience responded with clapping, singing along, waving hands, waving lit cell phones, and some even dancing to the music. Some of the most popular songs were “I Am – I Said,” “Song Sung Blue,” “Forever in Blue Jeans,” “Hello Again,” “Holly Holy,” “Heartlight,” “Beautiful Noise,” and, of course, the very popular “Sweet Caroline. “ 

“Neil Diamond was lonely as a kid. His family moved around nine times before he was a teen so he didn’t have very many friends. He made up a friend and named her Shilo. That is where the song Shilo came from. Neil was a poet first and then he would sing the poems,” Wright said.

At the end of their second set the band played Diamond’s hit, “America.” Wright asked the audience to stand and the night ended on an emotional high with people singing along. 

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