ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 8, 1993
A few months back, a home-made tape by a local musician named Lance Reegan-Diehl found its way onto my desk. I’d never heard of the guy before, but from the photo on the tape’s cover—of a smiling longhair in a studded leather jacket, dangling a custom-made Strat by its whammy bar—it looked like yet another offering from the would-be guitar-god set.
But as soon as I heard Reegan-Diehl’s music, I realized he was the real thing—a player with an abundance of feel and a great ear for melodic rock hooks in the Joe Satriani vein. Yours truly hasn’t been the only listener to compare Diehl to Satch, either.
“I get that quite a bit,” says Reegan-Diehl. “They do say that. But I’ve had lots of comments, believe me, all the way from ‘Wow, it blows my mind’ to ‘Turn it off!’ ”
The few weak moments on Reegan-Diehl’s eight-song tape Widgets & Wooden Nickels come on the tracks that feature singing; it’s when Diehl lets his fingers do the talkin’ that his talent really shines. The 23-year-old picker—whose trio is among the cavalcade of acts that play the Commodore on Wednesday (July 14) to raise funds for the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Relaxation Program—has been playing guitar since he was 10. His father’s love of music has had a strong influence on the classically trained player.
“My dad plays guitar and sings,” says Reegan-Diehl, “and he likes Bob Dylan and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott—storytellers. I can remember when we were eight years old he’d sit down and play, and just start tellin’ us a story. That was kinda neat.”
In recent years Reegan-Diehl advanced his musical knowledge with studies at Capilano College. His guitar instructor there was Ihor Kukurudza, who used to play in Skywalk before Harris Van Berkel took over.
“He was really good to study with,” says Reegan-Diehl. “I think he opened me up to versatility more than anything, ’cause that’s kinda the key to longevity in guitar-playing, you know—bein’ able to do more than one thing.”
Diehl does some teaching himself and has a small group of students between the ages of 10 and 30. But he’s not playing them Dylan tunes, as his dad used to do. That’s not what they want to learn these days.
“Nowadays it’s mostly gettin’ back to the rock of the ’70s,” says Reegan-Diehl, “and the biggest thing with the younger kids is the metal. They bring up names like [Megadeth guitarist] Marty Friedman and people like this, and I go, ‘Yeah, what band’s he from?’ And I guess the shoes get reversed when I ask them about Jeff Beck or Joe Perry or some of the older-generation guitar players.”
When he’s not teaching, playing pubs with bassist Jay Wittur and drummer Dave Berg in a cover band, or performing his own tunes—as he did with a nine-piece band at the Cultch last April—Reegan-Diehl works at Not Just Another Music Shop, which suits his music-loving interests just fine.
“Especially with the people I’ve met,” he says. “Aerosmith comes in to buy stuff, and it’s real nice to meet ’em on that level, ’cause they look you in the eye and talk to you like a person.”
Producer/guitarist Bob Rock and the boys from Mötley Crüe also frequent Reegan-Diehl’s workplace, as do some of the best local players around. In the liner notes to Widgets & Wooden Nickels, Diehl gives special thanks to all the great musicians he’s had a chance to jam with, and he claims there’s no shortage of them in Vancouver.
“There’s a guy named Blaine Dunaway who’s a great fiddle player; he plays in Gypsalero. I met him on just a studio-type level, ’cause he was doing violin tracks for me. And Al Wold—he’s an excellent jazz piano player. You know, they’re teachers of mine. And the Night of 1,000 Guitars [a guitar-based show at the Cruel Elephant earlier this year] was great, because everybody was there—Ron Samworth, Harris Van Berkel, Dan Tapanila, Ron Thompson. I mean, those guys are pretty cool.”