We can safely assume that Diana Rein is the only blues musician whose parents fled communist Romania with $50 between them before their daughter went on to appear in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
The singer-guitarist, whose influences include Prince, Phillip Sayce and Stevie Ray Vaughan, arrives in Fullerton Saturday as part of her Queen of My Castle Tour, which is named after her latest album.
Rein was known as Daiana Campeanu when she attended a Chicago performing arts school as a child, and she was talented enough to land roles in movies and television. In the 1990s, she played nunchaku wielder Bettina on the Nickelodeon series Tiger Troops; Sondra, the cousin of Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), in the two Home Alone pictures; and Vickie the barefoot babysitter in the movie Dennis the Menace.
But before landing those roles, she was already well on her way to becoming a professional musician, having started developing her life-long love of the blues at age 8, when her parents took her to a Chicago blues club. Arrangements had been made to have her perform some songs with a band, something she considers a defining moment.
Her first LP, The Back Room (Rude Mood Records), was released in 2007, when she only played rhythm guitar. She once told an interviewer that because she did not feel strong in those days as a guitarist, she did not feel strong as a songwriter either. She knew she had to get better to create the kind of electric blues she was dying to make.
That likely explains why her sophomore album, Long Road (also Rude Mood Records), did not come out until 2016. Fans by then referred to Rein online as the “Six String Siren.” American Blues Scene’s Steve Crowley found the release “confirms she is a rare talent with the ability to capture the listener and hold them throughout the album. This album is a gem that should be in every blues fan’s music library.”
Now a resident of Temecula and member of both the Orange County and Los Angeles blues societies, Rein became the first female artist signed to Gulf Coast Records, which musician Mike Zito and his fellow music loving partner Guy Hale launched in 2018. Rein’s 15-song Queen of My Castle, which came out in June, was co-produced by Walter Trout Band drummer Michael Leasure and was mixed by Lincoln Clapp, who did the same on Vaughan’s Texas Flood.
“Rein’s vocals contrast nicely with her down-and-dirty guitar work,” says Big City Rhythm and Blues of Queen of My Castle. “Her soloing shows a great command of the modern blues vocabulary: fat, nasty tone with little special effects or frills. Queen Of My Castle is a compelling listen. The band is solid throughout the album and lends strong support from the first track to the last but there’s no doubt who is the queen of THIS castle!”
A month after the album’s release, Rein was performing songs off it in front of thousands of music lovers at the open air blues festival in Romania. In October, she joined label mates in appearing at the Gulf Coast Records Fest at renowned live music venue Knuckleheads in Kansas City. On Nov. 2, she capped a week on the Mexican Riviera, playing on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise.
We trust she will have overcome any sea leg issues by the time she walks into Ziings Bistro & Bar, 209 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, for Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. show. There is no cover charges, and all ages are welcome. Call (714) 526-5777 or visit ziings.com for more information.
Rein is also scheduled to play at the New Blues Festival in Huntington Beach on April 25.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.