Denny Diamond
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Denny Diamond

Poplar Grove, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1999 | SELF

Poplar Grove, Illinois, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1999
Band Rock Cover Band




"Woodstock Opera House"

“...Denny Svehla brings natural warmth to your heart and a new breath of life to Neil Diamond’s music. Denny as Neil Diamond sounds like Americana: Warm, comforting – just what you expect! Captivating! Energetic! Charismatic! A guaranteed crowd pleaser and a sold out show!” - Laura Witlox

"Daily Herald"

You'd think Denny Diamond's voice would make him stand out in a crowd.

When he takes the stage as a Neil Diamond tribute artist, as he's done since 1999, it does. But ask his children, and something else comes to mind.

"He's always laughing," said 24-year-old Spenser, who has been performing alongside his father for the past eight years or so. "If we were in a crowded room, I could hear him laugh. I would know, 'Oh, Dad is here.' That's how often he laughs. It's just so recognizable."

Laughter seems to have created a sweet – or you could say, "Sweet Caroline," – sort of harmony both on stage and off for this family rooted in Harvard. Hands, touching hands. Reachin out...

Laughter and a shared love of the oh-so-catchy music of Neil Diamond. Well, most of the time.

"Every once in a while, we'll be listening to the radio and his song will come on, and we'll be like, 'Change it. I played this song four times; I don't want to listen to it,' " Spenser said with a laugh.

Love on the rocks. Ain't no big surprise...

"It's never in a bad way like 'I don't want to do this ever again.' It's more like, 'Let's get away from Neil Diamond for a while and listen to something else.' "

Spenser's 26-year-old brother, Lucas, also takes the stage to make up Denny Diamond and the Jewels. Playing the bass and drums, Spenser sings a bit of Johnny Cash in the show, while Lucas, on lead guitar, performs a few Buddy Holly songs, sporting glasses that look like the iconic artist.

Their sister, 21-year-old Sarah, joins them occasionally, often singing "These Boots are Made for Walkin" by Nancy Sinatra.

It's kind of a Six Degrees of Neil Diamond act as the family performs mainly Diamond hits, throwing in other artists, such as Ricky Nelson and Glen Campbell, from his era.

"Occasionally we'll slip some new ones in. It's hard for me and Luke to figure out what's a good song from that time period because we don't know," Spenser said.

All living under the same roof – with Mom Janet and three dogs – the family spends quite a bit of time together on and off the road.

Denny Diamond and the Jewels performs three to four shows a week throughout the Midwest and elsewhere, traveling often to Florida and Tennessee.

"A lot of times, it can tear things apart for families," Denny said. "But I think the time we have together is good. We still sit at the table together and have dinner and go out and play together."

A full-time job – although Spencer and Lucas work part-time jobs, as well – the act has built up a fan base through the years. The group puts on lunch and dinner shows, entertaining crowds with both their music and their interaction.

"Really the way the show goes is very natural. It just kind of flows together. We hardly ever script anything out, and people notice. The way we smile back and forth, people have said it's like being in your living room. That's what we want it to be," said Denny, whose real name is Denny Svehla.

(Someone started calling him Denny Diamond years ago when he used to sing karaoke at Nicolino's in McHenry. "That kind of caught on, so I just left it. The funny thing is people always say, 'Is Denny your real name?' Well yeah, it's the Diamond that you need to ask me about.")

Coming to America… Harvard, specifically, in about 1995, the Svehlas weren't always a musical family. Denny worked as a computer programmer.

A love of Neil Diamond – since 1974 when he his mother gave him his first 8-track player and his first 8-track tape, Diamond's "Hot August Night" – and some karaoke performances led to an appearance in 2000 on Dick Clark's television show, "Your Big Break." The talent show featured contestants playing the role of their song's original singers.

Later that year, the pop band Sixpence None the Richer happened to be in town to perform at the McHenry County Fair and heard Denny perform on the Woodstock Square. The group helped him create a band for himself in Nashville, where he performed for years before joining with his children.

The group eventually would like to create an act in Branson, Missouri.

"We'd really like to give that a shot some day," Denny said. "That would be a nice little homebase to stop and play."

As for his children, Sarah enjoys taking the stage with Dad but wants to be a culinary chef, he said.

"A pastry chef," he quickly added as Sarah corrected him in the background. "Sorry, I said that wrong."

And yes, Sarah likes Neil Diamond too, ever since the day Dad took her to a Diamond concert – her first ever – when she was 10 years old.

"I definitely got it from him," she said of her singing ability.

"My mom, she can't even snap. … She's yelling at me now," she said with a laugh as she talked over Mom's muffled words. As for Dad, she gets a bit embarrassed when teachers introduce her as Denny Diamond's daughter and get a bit gushy over the singer.

But for the most part, she and her friends "think it's really cool that my dad sings for a living," she said.

"I would describe him as amazing because he's my dad. He's passionate about what he does," she said. "I wouldn't trade him for anything."

Spenser and Lucas are kicking around the idea of taking center stage once in awhile. Each wants to make a career of music.

"Dad's always like, 'I'll gladly go in the back and let you play,' " Lucas said. "We were trying to figure out how to open for ourselves. How do you be the opening band for yourself?"

Told by their father simpy to find a passion and commit to it, the two actually turned to music on their own, picking up guitars and jamming in the family's basement.

"There always was a supply of Neil Diamond CDs," said Lucas, whose favorite song is Diamond's "Thank the Lord for the Night Time." I get relaxation, it's a time to groove...

"We would sit in the basement and just figure out how to play the songs," Lucas said.

Friends would burn them CDs of more modern artists and suggest they give them a listen, but the boys knew what they liked. "That's what we stuck with," Lucas said.

One day, Denny heard them and asked if they'd like to join him. The trio performed on a float during the Settlers' Days Parade in Marengo and have been together since.

"People are always complaining. They talk about, 'My boss this, my boss that.' My boss is my Dad. I didn't have that problem," Lucas said. "I think technically Mom is the president."

By JAMI KUNZER - - Jami Kunzer

"Denny Diamond’s own brand of easy listening, bluesy folk is lilting and evocative."

‘Diamond Mountain’, it must be said, feels as though it runs the risk at times of being too schmaltzy for it’s own good. In some ways Diamond’s sheer earnestness threatens to be his own worst enemy, but it’s impossible to fault his energy and authenticity. The song itself is filled with powerful musicality – the pianos swell and soar, the backing vocals tug at the heartstrings, the acoustic guitar is so warm you can almost feel it, and the long notes from the cello have the power to melt the heart of the coldest of cynics.

‘Holly Holy’ serves as a complete contrast, with bluesy guitars that have significantly more teeth and grit. The track escalates into a gospel tinged festival of fun, with its call to the choir to ‘Sing!’, as the rhythm soars onwards and upwards. Diamond’s voice is consistent and strong, with a showtune quality vibrato. It has to be said that the chorus, with its classic swirling organ and backing choir, is a true moment of glory. No matter how you feel about music in this genre, it’s a song that has the potential to put a smile of the faces of a great number of people. - Chris

"Denny Diamond Self-Titled EP (Music Review)"

Denny Diamond is an adult contemporary and folk music dynamo. His music is a cross between Bob Dylan and John Denver, but his voice reminds me of the power, passion, and clarity you’d hear from Tom Jones. Those are some very powerful words I know, but this is truly what I imagined while listening to Denny’s songs. Adult contemporary songs are often under-appreciated by music fans of today, but I tend to enjoy the break from the noise of commercial mainstream music.

Of the songs Denny Diamond has to offer, I really enjoyed “Diamond Mountain“, the most. It has a classic folk sound and great songwriting, two key ingredients that every song in this genre needs in order to have a fighting chance at success. Denny’s voice carries wide and far on every note too. His genuine baritone emits a powerful rumble that garners every ounce of your attention, and reels you into the words in the song so that you’re able to hear that there is a real story being told. Great song!
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The only other track that is available from Denny Diamond is “Holly Holy“. I wasn’t fond of this one at first listen because, quite frankly, the lyrics made no sense to me. But, after going back and listening a couple more times I semi-understood the message. Not many music fans are as persistent as I am when it comes to trying to follow a song. Nevertheless, the song is well produced and still rolls with the folk / adult contemporary theme, which means Denny is consistent with his sound; something few artists seem to be able to do these days (consistency). Check it out though, because you might love it. - Shaine Freeman

"Denny Diamond Diamond Mountain / Holly Holly Review"

Denny Diamond is an emotive and impassioned performer that is able to reach a considerable range while holding listeners’ hands from the beginning to the end of his latest track, Diamond Mountain. The track ebbs and flows to keep listeners firmly planted on the edges of their seats. The narrative that is weaved through Diamond Mountain is compelling and represents one of the many ways that a listeners can enjoy Denny’s music. The instrumentation may work in a supporting role during a considerable portion of the track, but is able to engulf the track with ground-shaking percussion and guitar.


Diamond Mountain has been chosen for inclusion in the upcoming documentary Play Me based on this epic composition, and listeners will be able to understand why at the end of the tracks’ nigh-six minute run time.

Holly Holly is a Neil Diamond cover and is given another lease on life by the sheer amount of effort Denny has placed into his rendition. Rather than be a paint by the numbers affair, Denny Diamond is able to straddle the line between homage and wholly unique effort. Fans of Neil Diamond’s original will have more than enough to sink their teeth into, while listeners clamoring for something that provides some insight into Denny’s persona can glean it.

The production of the track is solid, ensuring that listeners can slip into the effort easily. The instrumentation on Holly Holly is the perfect blend of pizzazz and timeless rock arrangements. The richness and fullness of the instrumentation during this single pushes Denny’s vocals to an entirely new plateau. By infusing this vitality and refreshing a classic in such a fashion, Denny’s ability as a performer is confirmed – he has a larger than life voice that fans will want to hear.

Make sure to visit Denny’s website for tour dates, biographical information, and the ability to check out Diamond Mountain and a bevy of other efforts by this natural performer.

Rating: 8.6/10 - JAMES MCQUISTON

"Hey, Neil, it's time you met your match -He's Denny Diamond, and like you, he'll be in Nashville this week"

Denny Diamond has tried it other ways. "Oh yeah, I'll sing country, like a George Strait song, "says the 41 year-old Illinois-based entertainer."But in the end, it just sounds like Neil Diamond doing George Strait."

Not that the Neil Diamond doing George Strait wouldn't be interesting, but Denny normally sticks to the plan in his performances: He strides and preens with confidence, clutches a microphone and sings Cracklin Rosie America and Sweet Caroline. In the end, it sounds like Neil Diamond doing Neil Diamond.

Of course, it's not the real thing. For that, Neil fans will have to ante up enough cash and Ticketmaster fees to purchase a seat for tonight's performance at Gaylord Entertainment Center. But experience has taught Denny that folks usually don't mind the aesthetic discrepancies.

"The thing is, I don't look like him," Denny says. "I look like a cross between Chevy Chase and Tim Allen, the tool guy from Home Improvement. But I'll wear the shirts and stuff, and people enjoy the sound of it. Hey, it's going like gangbusters. I'm working all the time."

"All the time" includes tonight and tomorrow at east Nashville's Slow Bar. Denny plans to attend the Gaylord Center show then hot-foot it across the Cumberland in time to entertain those who missed the original Diamond's set.

At his previous Slow Bar performance, Denny strutted offstage and into the street, leaving the band playing on the small stage while he turned his performance into an indoor/outdoor affair.

"I was out singing at the corner of Woodland and 11th," he says. "Neil likes to strut around, and I try to be like him. If there's not enough room to walk on the stage, I'll go out the door. That night in Nashville, I ended up recruiting some people to come over from the restaurant across the street. They saw me doing my act outside and came over to see what was going on."

Denny admits his glitter-shirted, Cherry Cherry-singing colleagues pale in number to those who imitate Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson.

"I think Frank's No. 2, behind Elvis," Denny Says. "Neil's still alive and kicking and doing real well, so there's not a lot of call to have a guy like me take a main stage. I started out doing this in 1999 as a fluke, because I was asked to do it to raise money for underprivileged kids at Christmas. There was nobody where I lived doing Neil, but since I came along there's four other guys in the area doing him."

It might seem odd that there's any demand at all for the apparently growing roster of nearly Neils, given the fact that even the genuine article hasn't had a charting single since 1986's Headed for the Future. But Diamond, now 60, still plays to sellout audiences at arenas across North America, still thrills a hearty portion of the womenfolk in the crowd and still delivers his catalogue of time-tested, mostly self-written hit songs in a powerful voice.

"He's an incredible live performer" Denny says. "I always go see him when I can, and it's a love affair between him and the people. He can command so many people, and yet he's so relaxed out there."

While many of his Elvis-impersonating brethen seem to morph into the King even when offstage, Denny isn't out to embody so much as to appreciate. He admits women sometime react to his stage persona as if he were more than cubic zirconium ("They clutch and grab, and I've gone through a couple of shirts"), but Denny says he never confuses himself for the genuine article.

"I've never met him, but I'd love to," Denny says. "I don't know what I'd say, though. I guess I'd just shake his hand and say, Thanks for all the times you don't even realize you gave me."

- The Tennessean

"Mercy Lounge/Cannery Ballroom"

"Hands down the best tribute act going. Denny won Nashville over on his first visit here and his crowds still continue to grow"

- John Bruton

"Wisconsin Timber Rattlers"

"We've given Denny the opportunity to entertain our fans on a number of occasions. Young and old, our fans have thoroughly enjoyed his music and his personality. Denny offers a great, affordable entertainment value and has been a pleasure to work with!"

Angie Ceranski - Angie Ceranski


Sentimental Nights, Original Song



In the late 90s, Dennis Svehla was a normal Chicagoland guy engaged in a respectable career as a consultant while headlining karaoke shows at night. When the popular band Sixpence None The Richer came to perform at the McHenry County Fair in Woodstock, IL (used as a stand-in for Punxsutawney, PA
in the classic Bill Murray film “Groundhog Day”), they wandered one night into a local venue where Dennis was performing. Blown away by his voice and charisma, they brought him to Nashville, and before you could say “Cracklin’ Rosie, get on board,” the singer became Denny Diamond, one of the country’s most successful Neil Diamond tribute artists. 

Diamond became a sensation after he appeared on Dick Clark produced “Your Big Break” TV show – and after some years performing regularly in Music City, launched a road career that has averaged 200 annual club, opera house, cabaret, and small theatres across the U.S. Touring these past few years with his multi-talented sons Lucas and Spenser (both now in their mid-20s) as Denny Diamond and the Jewels, the powerhouse singer and all around vibrant entertainer has brought his “Beautiful Noise” show to people excited about an all around musical experience. Denny has always been a family oriented performer; years earlier, he and his brother Pete created “Relations singing djs,” with them as mobile djs, dance performers and singers, which became popular on the wedding and corporate circuit. 

Using Neil Diamond’s catalog as a foundation, Denny Diamond and the Jewels also tackles classics by everyone from Elvis and Johnny Cash to Glen Campbell, Buddy Holly and Ricky Nelson – sometimes using a clever device called “Six Degrees of Neil Diamond.” Denny Diamond and the Jewels are currently gearing up for a massive 80 date tour that runs from Fall 2015 through Spring 2016; they will hit 40 cities from September 7 to November 1 and then pick up next March and tour through May 17.

Diamond’s reknown as a Neil tribute artist – and his subsequent evolution as an all-around touring entertainer — has laid an inspiring foundation for his current emergence as a recording artist. He is launching this phase of his career with a two track EP consisting of the appropriately titled, Luka Bloom-composed inspirational song “Diamond Mountain” and a rousing take on one of Neil’s “Hot August Night” classics, the rousing “Holly Holy.” He also has a beautiful original ballad, “Sentimental Nights” ready to roll soon. 

“Diamond Mountain” was recently announced as the theme song for producer/director Steve Tatone’s upcoming musical documentary “Diamond Mountain,” a feature length film currently in production depicting the on and off stage trials and tribulations of 13 Neil Diamond tribute artists from around the world (North and South America, Europe, Australia). The emotion-packed movie, which some are comparing in scope and substance to the 2014 Academy Award winning documentary “20 Feet From Stardom,” will feature up to 30 songs and several interviews from various Tribute Artists and Concert Promoters who present tribute performers on stages and in venues big and small around the globe. The movie wraps principal photography in June, 2015 and will premiere on the international Film Festival circuit in the Fall of 2015.

“Diamond Mountain,” which was written by Bloom over 20 years ago, was chosen by Tatone for its title and the song’s metaphoric connection to what the songwriter calls “coming home to yourself, your true nature…about trusting that you are never alone in this world.” But Denny Diamond found an emotional, personal connection to the tune that has helped make it his own. “My mom was Irish and she always wanted to go to Ireland but passed away before she had the opportunity,” he says. “The song as originally written was about coming home to Ireland, so to me it was as much a tribute to her as it was a great reference to the theme of the documentary. Luka himself told me I should be proud of my performance because I had sung my mother home.”

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