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Vee family celebrates Neil Diamond's music

Matt Vee (left), along with cousins Jeff and Tommy Vee, will perform the music of Neil Diamond on Sept. 30 at the Sheldon Theatre. Matt is a nephew of 1960s pop star Bobby Vee; Jeff and Tommy are Bobby Vee’s sons.1 / 2
Matt Vee, nephew of 1960s pop star Bobby Vee, will lead an ensemble performing the music of Neil Diamond on Sept. 30 at the Sheldon Theatre.2 / 2

Performing Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Sheldon Theatre will have some elements of a homecoming for Matt Vee.

The venue is new for him, but for 13 years he performed throughout the region as a member of the Johnny Holm Band. The lead singer/guitarist played at the Goodhue County Fair and other familiar locales between 1985 and 1998.

In Red Wing, Vee and friends will present "I Am, He Said: A Celebration of the Music of Neil Diamond." Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

Pop music has been an integral part of his life. Vee is the nephew of 1960s pop icon Bobby Vee, and he'll be bringing two of the legendary singer's sons with him to the Sheldon stage — Jeff and Tommy Vee.

The Vees and Matt's wife, Julie Velline (the family name), also perform widely in the upper Midwest as the Killer Vees.

The Minnesota family's music legacy goes back generations, Matt Vee said.

When his uncle Bill needed a singer for his band, The Shadows, Bobby Vee joined the group even though he was only 14 at the time. That was the start of a memorable career.

Matt Vee has been performing for 35 years. He left the family act years ago to get an education and went on to play with many national and regional artists. He rejoined The Vees when another of Bobby Vee's sons, Robby, decided to pursue a solo career.

In today's world, Matt Velline has a day job with Edina Realty rather than spend all his time on the road. As Matt Vee he has also explored other artists' music.

That's how the show they are bringing to the Sheldon got its start.

"I've always been a fan" of Neil Diamond's music, he said. For a couple of years he sang Diamond's material at the Pioneer Place in St. Cloud, and it gained a following. Fans encouraged him to develop it into a complete show.

"I decided to try it (almost two years ago)," Vee said. "Neil Diamond has an amazing catalog of songs." To Vee's delight, "It has been very successful, and a lot of fun" to perform all over the Midwest.

Diamond has been producing hits since the 1960s, including such iconic tunes as "Cracklin' Rosie," "Song Sung Blue" and "Sweet Caroline." He has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, and also wrote numerous songs that were recorded by artists including Elvis Presley and the Monkees.

To Sheldon officials, bringing the Vees to town is a treat. The night before playing at the Sheldon, they'll be at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.

"The Vees are music history — made and in the making," said Executive Director Bonnie Schock. "Their exceptional musicianship and amazing showmanship comes together in this celebration of one of the most beloved American songwriters of all time."

In Red Wing, the Vees will be accompanied by eight musicians — a three-piece horn section, two people on keyboards, two guitarists and one percussionist.

In addition, a small group of local vocalists will join the band on selected songs.

The audience can expect to hear many favorites, Vee said. "People love 'Cherry, Cherry' and 'Holly Holy'," which is one of his favorites to sing. The other song on top of his personal play list is "Play Me."

Even though the concert is not set up for dancing, he will not be surprised to see people get up and start moving. "Sometimes it just happens," Vee said.

"I hope people go home with a smile after hearing all those great songs. We're all about making memories," he added.

This event is part of the Sheldon's Traditions series that brings to life classic stories, timeless styles and familiar names people know and love.

Tickets to "I Am, He Said" are $28-$33. Visit the box office at 443 W. Third St., call 651-388-8700 or go online to www.sheldontheatre.org.

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