It’s Friday night and the Roundup is jumping. Lafayette’s local watering hole is hosting an auction for autism and ‘Diamond Dave’ Hosley is drawing the winners. The last prize is claimed and the tables are pushed to the corners of the bar. It’s showtime.
The LaMorinda legend who has played over 100 weddings, reunions and other Saint Mary’s events, takes his place behind the keyboards. At 56, he’s 'rocking' jeans and a tee shirt with nary a diamond to be found. This is not your father's lounge entertainer.
Flanked by two turntables, a drum and a MIDI (musical instrument digital interface), Hosley gets ready to riff off a set of party-starters that transcends the generations on the dance floor in front of him. Lady Ga Ga, the Bee Gees, Elvis and Usher – he segways seamlessly between the songs and the audience feeds on the energy.
Hosley’s surreal climb to fame started 27 years ago at Petar’s Restaurant in Lafayette. Playing an old, beat up piano with a rinky tink sound, he added a drum machine and then the electric keyboards. “I started to see that I could continue to make $50 a night being a piano player or I could try and emulate a band and do more of a one man band thing.”
About seven years into his gig at Petar's, serendipity set in - twice. During his break, one night, he met a Saint Mary’s alum named Christine. Their first date proved more discord than harmony, but eventually led to marriage at Saint Mary’s Chapel and a reception at the Soda Center. He did not play his own reception.
Hosley also credits the school for his stage name. “That name, Diamond Dave, was totally a Saint Mary’s thing,” he says. “I think I started playing some Neil Diamond music and Saint Mary’s students were some of the first who’d come in…”
For 10 years, he says he resisted the moniker. “I didn’t even put it on my website. But what you end up realizing, over time, is that in this business – you’re happy if they know your name. It’s all about the connection.”