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Memories of Old Glory 

I have a lot of July 4th memories from my 40 years of touring with Neil Diamond. There was 1976, when I was still a new guy on the band, when we played for the grand opening of the Aladdin Theater of the Performing Arts in Las Vegas. It was the country’s bicentennial, and on the 4th we gathered on the roof of the Jockey Club, where we were staying, to observe fireworks emanating from Caesar’s Palace up the street. And we gathered in Mr. Diamond’s suite for the wedding of Richard and Tina Bennett. 

A decade…

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Size is or isn't everything 

This photograph shows our audience at a show we did at Glastonbury in 2008. I'm stating that for the record before D. Trump claims it to be the crowd at one of his rallies. These people are lively and happy and don't want to cause anybody any trouble.

We did have some trouble that day, however. There was some kind of an audio mishap between the stage, the sound boards and the BBC, which was carrying it all. It resulted in several minutes of silence from many of us, while the drums continued, creating a nice…

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Thus Endeth Jazz Appreciation Month 

After landing in Louisville, and settling in at the downtown Louisville Marriott, the first thing on the agenda of some Touroids was getting out of Louisville. Getting out of the whole damned state of Kentucky, in fact, and heading across a big bridge into the next-door state of Indiana, and the charming little town of New Albany. The lure was a performance by a jazz musician born and raised and still living in New Albany. His name is Jamey Aebersold, and he is legendary in the jazz world, and beyond, as a…

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Norton Futilities 

Back in 2014, we did a pre-tour tour, promoting the tour that was coming up the following year. We went to New York and to London, doing TV appearances, including one on the Graham Norton show. 

If you want to hear my boss sing or me play on this clip, save your time. The version on YouTube has been stripped of our performance. I don’t know if that’s because of music clearance issues. my appearance being too frightening, or some other reason, but I won’t be hurt if you skip watching it all. 

I saw it all…

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Four Years Ago in Boston 

Wait--it wasn't Boston. It was across the bridge in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I'm hanging out in a cute little club/art gallery called the Lilypad where the moment captured in this photo occurred. I was uncharacteristically  sitting in with some serious jazzers, most notably a drummer with whom I had played many years before, back in Indiana. Drummer Joe Hunt is now on the faculty of the New England Conservatory, but when I met him he was playing around Bloomington, shortly before heading east to meet up…

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Airing of the Green 

This is a the day when we like to look back at our many visits to Ireland over the years. We did a lot of memorable shows there, met a lot of special people, and lingered post-tour multiple times to ramble around the countryside. 

We had tremendous audiences in Dublin, enthusiastic and ready to party. Irish audiences always clapped and sang along, even on songs where it was unexpected. I never thought of “I Am…I Said” as an audience participation number, but they made it one. 

Among the fine friends we made…

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A Big Thumbs up for Women 

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and I found myself looking back at a couple of my first gigs when I arrived in Los Angeles, both of them with remarkable women. 

The first was at a club called the Ruddy Duck, quite near where we now live, playing Hammond B3 organ with the Mary Kaye Trio. Mary came from a royal musical family in Hawaii and Las Vegas, where she was a giant star in the early days. 

I wasn’t really an organist, but I managed to cover it, and it was great to have a steady gig. Serious…

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Grammy, How I Love Ya 

I apparently enjoyed watching the Grammys last night a lot more than others, but sometimes I’m easy to please. 

I first went to the Grammy awards in the early 1970s, when I was new in town and happy to be part of the scene, to arrive in a limo and walk on a red carpet, even if nobody knew or cared who I was, particularly me. It was held at the Shrine Auditorium then, and much more intimate than it is now. The after-party was at the Ambassador Hotel, and my wife and I got to dance to Count Basie and his…

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First Bass 

With all the nonsense coming out of the White House these days, the only people I can talk to who make sense are musicians.So I had lunch yesterday with Alan Lindgren and Larry Brown. We three collaborated on a few albums, under the name the Joy Circuit, back around the turn of the century. And of course Alan was there for almost all of my 40 years with Neil Diamond. One conversation topic that came up was Reinie Press. Alan declared that Reinie was the finest bass player he'd ever played with. 

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A Birthday Flashback 

Today is the birthday of my long-time boss, bandleader, vocalist and chum, Neil Leslie Diamond. 

When I was very new in town, I somehow was invited to audition to join his band. On a warm summer afternoon, I drove to Modern Musical Services, on Cole Place, just off Sunset Boulevard. Cole Place had a tiny left-turn lane and I got my first and only LA traffic ticket for not negotiating it skillfully enough. So I was admittedly a little grumpy when I arrived (at the appropriate time, thank you) and was told…

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