Much like his idol, Neil Diamond, Bobby Bruce has spent most of his life on stage.
But for the 43-year-old Gambier Island-resident, his performances have not always been restricted to singing.
His career started as a child, growing up in Port Coquitlam, appearing in film and television. He then tried his hand at musical theatre and rock revues in his youth, before discovering his niche roundabout 1994.
That’s when Bruce’s experience and talent as an impersonator became apparent, and the roots of a tribute act for Diamond began to flourish.
A few short years later, in 1998, Nearly Neil and the Solitary Band was born. All these years later, Bruce is not only still performing his musical tribute to Diamond, but has refined the tribute act and is bringing it to Maple Ridge later this week.
The show is being held Thursday, Nov. 22 at The ACT, and promoter Rob Warwick describes it as a “true-to-life” experience complete with the Diamond swagger, charisma, throaty vocals, and sequin shirts.
Bruce and his team perform upwards of 150 shows a year at casinos and theatres across North America, Australia, and Europe.
Back from a summer tour of Australia, Bruce and his merry band of consummate musicians will perform at The ACT Thursday, then at the Jolly Coachman in Pitt Meadows on Saturday, then Richmond next weekend, before heading off to the Prairies for a series of shows in Saskatchewan and Alberta leading up to Christmas.
Bruce has been a Diamond fan since childhood, recalling how he and his family pushed in the eight-track and grooved to the legend’s songs during road trips.
“Holly Holy is my favourite Neil Diamond song to sing. Although I Am I Said, Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show and If You Know What I Mean are very fulfilling pieces to perform, none of them quite have the experience that Holly Holy has for both the performer and the audience. It is the one time in the show that I get more coming back from the audience than I am sending out – and I’m cranking it out,” Bruce said.
As for his least fave, Desiree tops that list, “although I love to see people rocking out to it. I just feel the cheese on that one.”
Tickets for Thursday’s show at The ACT are $34.50, and available from www.theactmapleridge.org or 604-476-2787. Doors open at 7 p.m., with the show at 7:30.
How to win:
A pair of tickets to see Nearly Neil perform at The ACT
Two lucky TIMES readers will each wina pair of tickets to the Nov. 22Neil Diamond tribute concert
How do you win?
• Visit the TIMES’ website at: www.mrtimes.com, find “More Ways to Connect,” and click on “send us your letters, photos, video.”
• Fill in your name, email, and number.
• Then write a short note explaining why you want to attend this show. Please note your community, and include the keyword “Neil” at the top of the note. Preference is given to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows residents.
Entries must be received prior to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 21 and winners will be notified by telephone and/or email. Note: submitted comments could be used in future editions of the newspaper. No staff or family of the TIMES or Glacier Media are eligible. This contest is restricted to online participants, 19 years or older only.
– with files from Glacier Media