Even after 20 years, Randy Cordero, the lead singer of Super Diamond, is astonished at the fan base the band has established.
"I am glad I quit my engineering job to sing Neil Diamond songs for a living. I performed four years as a solo act before Super Diamond and I could do quite a bit of mimicking, especially of voices in the lower register, like Jim Morrison and Johnny Cash. I did Neil Diamond's voice, and something in it made me want to do it more."
Super Diamond, which performs this Saturday at Harrah's Tahoe, is not just another of the myriad tribute bands out there. It is its own hybrid, performing Neil Diamond songs, certainly, with Cordero's voice sounding like Diamond, certainly, but with a lot of mash-ups.
"We will take Boston's 'A Long Time,' for instance, and put it with Neil Diamond's 'Desiree,' or Guns N' Roses' 'Sweet Child O' Mine' with 'Sweet Caroline.' That one is so popular we can't put it to rest. We have a version of 'Play Me,' one of his quintessential love songs, which we do sort of garage-punk. Think Social Distortion," Cordero said.
Super Diamond has never been a straight-up tribute band, even though it is sometimes billed as such, mostly by casinos, which the six-man band plays occasionally, sticking usually to clubs.
"We never tried to be exactly like him. I decided to go ahead with this when people were making fun of him, that period of 'Heartlight' and 'Hello Again' when he certainly wasn't winning friends in rock 'n' roll. There was even a joke about him in 'Fletch,' but this man reminded me of my childhood, and he had a lot of hits and wrote a lot of songs for others, the Monkees' 'I'm a Believer,' for example," said Cordero.
Super Diamond is one of the few groups openly endorsed by its inspiration.
Neil Diamond joined the group for a surprise visit at the House of Blues in Hollywood, singing along with bandmembers on "I Am, I Said." He then showed up at the premiere of "Saving Silverman" for which Super Diamond provided part of the soundtrack.
"The first time, my parents couldn't have been happier, and he signed a photo for them. The second time they weren't there, and he asked me about them and then sent them a postcard," Cordero recalled. "That's the kind of guy he is."
Super Diamond just performed a 20th anniversary concert at San Francisco's Bimbo's 365 Club.
"In 20 years, we have gotten better. It's certainly good to get better and not worse."
(Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; $33 general admission; Ticketmaster).
Boomtown, Reno Events Center: Dave Mason, May 26 (800) 648-3790.
Carson Valley Inn Cabaret Lounge: Steppen Stonz, today-Saturday; George Pickard, Sunday-Wednesday; Decades, Thursday-May 18. (775) 782-9711.
Eldorado, Reno 18th annual Great El Dorado BBQ, Brews and Blues Festival, June 21-22. Showroom: "Menopause the Musical," Tuesdays-Sundays, through July 14. (800) 648-5966.
Harrah's Lake Tahoe South Shore Room: Super Diamond, Saturday; Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, June 1. (800) 427-7247.
Harrah's Reno Sammy's Showroom: The Four Tenors, Thursdays-Sundays, through May 28; Taylor Hicks, July 3-7. The Stage @ the Zone: Steel Breeze, today-Saturday. (800) 427-7247.
Harveys, Lake Tahoe Improv: John Henton, today-Sunday; Charles Fleisscher, Wednesday-May 19. (800) 427-8397.
Horizon, Lake Tahoe Illusion Fusion starring Alex Ramon, Thursdays- Tuesdays. (775) 588-6211.
MontBleu Resort, Lake Tahoe Blu Nightclub: Thrive, Weapon, DJ Bukue-One, Sunday. (888) 829-7630.
Silver Legacy, Reno Spring Fever Revival Classic Car Show, May 31-June 1. Grand Exposition Hall: Creedence Clearwater Revisited, May 24; Amy Schumer, May 25; Scott Weiland, June 8. (800) 687-8733.