Bob Diamond has two performances coming up at Don’t Tell Mama, Wednesday, January 25th and Tuesday, January 31st both at 7pm. His show, The Gift of Love, directed by Gretchen Reinhagen, is the perfect remedy for what ails us. Bob is full of love for this crazy business we call cabaret, seeing three to four cabaret shows a week and gives back to the community with his volunteer work as a member of the MAC Board and for various LGBT organizations. He’s one of the good guys and we wanted to get to know him better so … NiteLifeExchange had some questions for him…
NiteLife Exchange: When did you first realize that you wanted to perform and when was the first time you sang in front of an audience?
Bob Diamond: I think that I realized that I wanted to perform when I was about 10 years old. I wanted to be in the movies. As a kid in Montana, at that time, all we had were movies. I saw Dean Stockwell in a film and knew somehow we were the same age and I wanted to be there. So I wrote to all the movie studios and sent them my little class picture. I never heard from any of them, but still had the dream. I realized that I enjoyed singing about the same time, but never ever thought about really being a singer. We didn’t do musicals in my high school, so that didn’t happen. The first time I actually did sing by myself, was my first cabaret show at Danny’s Skylight Room. My Musical Director, Dean X. Johnson, told me I could do it and so I put my foot in the water and liked it.
NLE: If you could have any actors’s career, whose would it be and why?
BD: Well, after not being able to take Dean Stockwell’s place, I started looking at all the wonderful character actors in the movies and loved what they did. As I grew, I realized I was not leading man material, but could be the side kick or the villain and they worked more than the “Star.” Once I discovered live theatre, I fell in love with the musicals and the great male singers Alfred Drake, Richard Kiley and John Raitt. They just knocked me out with their voices on records and then when I had the pleasure of seeing them on stage later, I realized just how great they were as actors as well..
NLE: Who were some of your early musical influences?
BD: I was a big fan the The Weavers Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, Simon and Garfunkel and for a bit of contrast, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald. It was what they said in their music. A great drive to give me a feeling of being moved, happy and wanting more.
NLE: You were with “The Joe Franklin Show” for years. Knowing that Joe always had something to add to a conversation, what did he say to you when he found out you were a singer and what was his advice?
BD: I was Joe’s Television Director for 34 years. Some of the best years of my life. I truly loved Joe and really, really loved directing his wonderful crazy show. Joe was never at a loss for words and he truly loved doing the shows. I had directed the show for about twenty some years before I did my first show and when I told Joe I was going to do a Cabaret show, he just looked at me and said “Can you sing? I didn’t know that! When is the show, I will be there.” After he saw the show, he said “You were good….I liked it.” Then he added that I should keep doing it and then, as only Joe could, he wanted to make sure I was going to stay with it. I could do both. Joe never missed one of my shows. It is a strange feeling that I know he will not be here in person for this show.
NLE: You performed your first cabaret show at Danny’s Skylight Room in 1988. One of the people you met early on in cabaret was the late great John Wallowitch. What was your experience with him and have you included any of his songs in your repertoire or in this show?
BD: Yes, my first two shows were at Danny’s. It was also the room that John Wallowitch did some of his shows in. I actually met John when he would come on “The Joe Franklin Show,” but when I really got to know him was around 2003. John was a wonderful, caring and very funny man. I enjoyed being around him and hearing all of his wonderful tales, most of them true, I am sure. Plus, it was always a joy to go Christmas Caroling with the John Wallowitch group to the old Irving Berlin house each Christmas. I do have a wonderful Wallowitch song in the show. It’s his “Mary’s Bar,” a wonderful ditty that, I think, shows just a tad bit of the brilliant talent of John.
NLE: What is this new show about and can you mention some of the songs and composer/lyricists you are including?
BD: The Show is called The Gift of Love and I talk about what I love and how so much stays the same and yet so much changes. Well, besides “Mary’s Bar,” I have some of the Great American Song Book like “I Get Along Without You Very Well” by Hoagy Carmichael, Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick’s “Tonight At Eight” and Jimmy Webb’s “If These Walls Could Speak” and so much more . We, that is my wonderful team, Director Gretchen Reinhagen, Musical Director Rich Jensen and Bass Tom Hubbard, really love the mix and I think it’s a really great show.