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July 1999 Article

Exclusively Found in the Insider Viewpoint of Las Vegas
"Tribute Shows"
by Sharon Haynes

Sharon Haynes

"Tribute Shows"

The Jordanaires and I have been performing the "Original Tribute to Patsy Cline" for more than nine years now—long before I even exactly knew there were other tribute" shows around. Although I perform the tribute portion of "Patsy Cline" — the Jordanaires are performing a tribute of "themselves"… in that they are sharing their history, and singing those same beautiful background vocals as they sang on the original recordings of Patsy. The same wonderful vocal arrangements that Neal Matthews, second tenor of the Jordanaires, wrote for Patsy’s songs as he did for Elvis, Ricky Nelson, Don McLean, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Kenny Rogers, and hundreds more.

The Jordanaires, performing with more than 2500 artists throughout their upcoming 49-year history has seen many performers and tribute acts come and go.

In my nine years traveling and performing with the Jordanaires, I came across various tribute-type shows— American Superstars & Legends in Concert—being presented in casino showrooms all across the country. These performers were all interesting in appearance and vocals of the artist they were emulating. However, one of them, stood out above the others in his particular performance, his name is Barrie Cunningham.

Barrie performs with such immaculate looks, gestures, and vocal intonations and inflections— so much like the real "NEIL DIAMOND"—that to this day I have yet to see a tribute show that is better.

It is downright phenomenal when even the real, hard-core, dyed-in-the-wool DIAMOND fans attend the show and say, "MAN, you are just as good as Neil, and even better!"

That is a real trick… to be "better" than the "real thing"… but that comment echoes nightly following Barrie’s presentation of "HOT AUGUST NIGHTS" Tribute to Neil Diamond at the Gold Coast Showroom.

Barrie has paid his dues. His career has taken the path of a folk rock singer in Greenwich Village, New York, then on to Florida; various clubs in Los Angeles; with a blues and country rock band called "Black Slacks" in San Diego, and several years of appearing with both Legends in Concert and American Superstar productions worldwide. Barrie has now brought his well-celebrated tribute to the Gold Coast here in Las Vegas to headline his full-production show with some of the best musicians anywhere, "The Diamond Band."

It is a very exciting 75-minute show, well-paced and full of energy and excellent vocals. The hardest part to believe, but trust me, I would not steer you wrong… is the fact that Barrie can be a "blink" from being "Neil Diamond himself" and then perform a second tribute show. His second tribute show, Friday nights at the Gold Coast, is becoming as popular as the Diamond Tribute… is the "Salute to Jimmy Buffett."

From the first night he took the stage and presented his Jimmy Buffett Salute… they sold me! I just shook my head in disbelief, said "he’s got it—that’s Buffett! It is a very special music that lets you feel like it’s "Friday night on the beach"— it was almost as "freeing" as a drive to the coast. That’s what makes this tribute so special is the "getaway" effect it has for everyone. Barrie does an excellent job and so does the "Lost Shaker of Salt" band.

It is like Mardi Gras, New Orleans, on the beach, a Margaritaville gala—all on one! Now I can understand where all the "Parrot Heads" are comin’ from! Quite a pleasant surprise too, when "Corona," Jimmy Buffett’s official sponsor, came on board and is now the official sponsor of Barrie’s "Salute to Buffett" shows. They have brought a lot to the event with many prizes and giveaways for the upcoming weeks. It is one big party… you’ve just gotta check it out. If you are like me… you’ll love the "vacation"… and you don’t even have to pack a bag! IVLV


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