Petworth Festival offers celebration of the music of Paul Simon

The Music of Paul Simon – A Celebration will be one of the highlights of this year’s Petworth Festival.

Tribute to Simon & Garfunkel
Tribute to Simon & Garfunkel

Happening on Thursday, July 22 in Petworth House Stable Yard, it runs from 7.30pm-10.10pm and offers a show of two halves.

The second half is Gary Stewart’s live reworking of the iconic album Graceland with its sequence of songs inspired, amongst much else, by mbaqanga – South African street music. Joyous music will be delivered by a seven-piece band.

The first half focuses on the Simon & Garfunkel years with a set from the duo that tour as Simon & Garfunkel Through The Years.

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    Dan Haynes, the Simon of the two, said: “The show is very much a celebration of the music of Simon & Garfunkel, though we perform as ourselves, as fans of Simon & Garfunkel. We don’t dress up as them or pretend to be them. We never felt that that would work!”

    Dan got into their music at college: “Peter, the guy that sings Garfunkel’s parts, introduced me. He grew up with their music. Both his parents were big fans. In college we met and he introduced me to the music, and it just all spawned from there. We started playing their songs and our voices complemented one another. We were doing music by other artists, but it was the music of Simon & Garfunkel that really seemed to suit us, and so we started doing the show Simon & Garfunkel Through The Years.

    “We first started touring in village halls in 2011 and then we started touring smaller theatres and it has built up from there. We have been quite fortunate. We have done tours in Europe and America and in early 2020 we went to Australia. We just managed to get the tour in. The last week of the tour was a bit of a panic because we didn’t know what was going to happen and whether were going to be able to get home, but we managed to complete the tour. But for a number of the venues, we were the last show.

    “(During the lockdowns) we have tried to keep up our presence as much as we could. We did a few online shows which were really good. It was a really nice way to stay connected with people and the feedback was great. Lots of people were really pleased that we were doing it. Everybody had been shut up indoors and they were really grateful that we were offering it. But it has been really great to be back in venues. Nothing can beat that experience of sharing the music together in the same room together.

    “Our first gig was at the end of May. It was quite nerve-racking, to be honest. We felt like we were starting over again we had been that long away from an audience. Neither of us are the biggest, most confident performers. We always grow into it while doing the show, but actually, it was great and we were soon back into the swing of it.”

    As for the music: “I just think Paul’s song-writing is just so good. The songs from the Simon & Garfunkel period have just proved to be timeless classics. Somebody said to us that the music just doesn’t seem to age at all, and I think that that is right.

    “And I think the fact that the songs can be so stripped back just highlights the incredible quality of them. You can really strip them back to the bones and they are still really brilliant.”