Saluting Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond didn’t have to announce his retirement to get the Music at Madison treatment.

The singer-songwriter’s material is in regular rotation as part of the Youngstown cabaret series. That Saturday’s concert follows Diamond’s recent announcement that he is retiring at age 77 because of Parkinson’s disease is merely a coincidence, said Music at Madison founder Rodd Coonce.

“We do (Diamond’s music) two times a year now and always get such a wonderful response,” Coonce said. “Most of what we do with Music at Madison is people like Neil Diamond, Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel, Billy Joel. Our audience is between 40 and 80, and the music we’re featuring here is lyrical, it’s stories. And Neil Diamond fits into that.”

Coonce will perform a variety of Diamond’s songs, backed by Jack Ciarniello on keyboard and Tom Ruggieri on percussion.

“I’ve been a tremendous fan for as long as I can remember,” Coonce said, and he listed “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “September Morn” as a couple of his favorites.

He also mentioned that Neil Diamond nights typically end with a sing along on “Sweet Caroline.”

Saturday’s concert also will feature performances by Patsy Sullivan, Colleen Chance and Nanette Midgley, who won’t necessarily do Diamond songs.

“If anyone wants to do a Neil Diamond song, they can, but they don’t have to,” Coonce said. “I want performers to come in and sing songs that they love.”