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Neil Diamond tribute artist puts new spin on 'Sweet Caroline'

Weeks after Jason Lohrke and Zevely Zone parodied the classic, Neil Diamond made a new COVID-19 version too.

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — The year 2020 was filled with last minute cancellations and ever changing COVID-19 protocols. In this Zevely Zone, I circled back to the one story that didn't air. 

In the spring of 2020, I profiled Jason Lohrke, a professional singer who is a Neil Diamond tribute artist. The story was shot at Welk Resort San Diego.

Credit: nexttorealneil.com

Just being compared to Neil Diamond makes Jason ooze with modesty. 

"That is a huge compliment, I mean he is the man, he is the diamond!" said Jason.  

The entertainer started a band and a theater tribute show called "I am I said". Most of his performances are in character as Neil. 

"Yes, most of them," said Jason.  

We shot Jason's story in early March of 2020, when COVID protocols were changing fast. The story never aired. 

"It's no worries," said Jason when we caught up with a Zoom call last week. "I think this COVID thing has effected every single person in the world," joked Jason. 

The day we shot the original story at Welk Resort San Diego, masks were not required. The next day they were. 

We filmed the story inside of the theater and did not want to confuse viewers with mixed messages. But the point of the story was to focus on Neil Diamond's greatest hit, 'Sweet Caroline' which was taking a hit. 

Because of COVID, we never got to show you how we improvised. Jason sang the classic lyrics at the time and back-up singers that day, who rejected him. 

Credit: nexttorealneil.com

It went like this:

Jason: "Hands touching hands?"

Back-up singers:  "No."

Jason: "Reaching out?"

Back-up singers: "Yeah, that's okay."

Jason: "Touching me?"

Back-up singers: "Yeah, okay."

Jason: "Touching you?"

Back-up singers: "NOOO!!!"

Our bit came out weeks before Neil Diamond came out with his own gag on YouTube.  

"Hi everybody this is Neil Diamond," said the Hall of Fame musician before singing, "Hands washing hands, reaching out, don't touch me, I won't touch you."

Jason and I laugh about it now because he definitely outperformed us. 

"Oh yeah, because he's Neil Diamond," laughed Jason. "Anytime you get Neil Diamond with an acoustic guitar in front of a fireplace with his dogs you are going to be so stoked to see that."

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The year 2020 may have come with a hands-off approach, but even then, Jason dreamed about 2021. Somehow, he knew good times were right around the corner. Or as the song says, "Good times never seemed so good. So good, so good, so good!"

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Jason will perform a series of concerts at Welk Resort San Diego next spring. If you want to see his act sooner, he performs at private parties, weddings, and corporate events. Click here for his contact information. 

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