Jazz Fest, April 24: The Simon and Garfunkel decision

2010 April 25
by Don Hammack

Jazz Fest provides so many choices, there’s going to be occasions when you make mistakes. I’m not so sure if I’d classify yesterday’s final decision as a mistake.

Simon and Garfunkel or My Morning Jacket. Honestly, I was more excited about seeing My Morning Jacket. I haven’t listened to a lot of their stuff, but I’ve liked what I’ve heard and heard enough good things from folks I trust to have chosen them.

Except, I didn’t. I mean, Simon and Garfunkel, they occupy a stratospheric spot in popular music’s all-time rankings. I went and saw Simon and Garfunkel.

They were, to unleash the S&G fans who have savaged Keith Spera’s review, not very good. Paul Simon didn’t sound great at the beginning, but I thought improved as the set went on. Art Garfunkel, due to either age or illness, was poor the whole set. He couldn’t hit his ethereal falsetto, flatter than the feeling of seeing how small crawfish bread has gotten. (Note to Jazz Fest organizers: I demand truth in advertising. You *must* call it crawfish breadsticks from now on. Pathetic.)

But full credit to Garfunkel for his professionalism. He took his medicine, kept trying and giving it his best. Even the chilly Simon and Garfunkel relationship seemed to thaw when Simon reached over at one point and gave his longtime partner and sparring partner as squeeze on his shoulder.

The crowd was supportive, and that’s what I found so uplifting about the performance. Everybody wanted to see a good performance, and if they didn’t in reality, they let their minds wander and hear them as they sounded when we were all much younger. I admit to listening to my inner soundtrack playing their tunes as they struggled. (And it wasn’t all a struggle, Simon’s mid-set session with his solo hits were more energetic and the stellar band buoyed the performance.)

Music is about memories. Where we were when we first heard a song, a time in life that a song takes us back to, some girl we daydreamed about while listening to some sappy ballad. And Saturday, it was about remembering the great contributions of Simon and Garfunkel, even if they didn’t provide a memorable Jazz Fest experience.

3 Responses leave one →
  1. 2010 April 25
    Brenda Pugh permalink

    To be Fair ,Art has been suffering from severe Laryngitis for a few weeks now. and had to postpone shows. It is to his credit he performed at all and did not let the people down who came to see Simon and Garfunkel. as the Jazzfest could not be postponed. Listen to them at the Rock and roll hall of Fame a few months ago.they were great . Their friendship has been repaired since 2003 . Never was that more obvious as towards the end of Bridge yesterday. Here’s wishing you well for the tour Art.

  2. 2010 April 25
    Don Hammack permalink

    I would argue it would have been better to cancel to let people see other great acts that were going on at the same time. That’s the great thing about Jazz Fest: There’s always another good act playing. As far as their repaired friendship, I’d like to think that’s the case but a friend who works the Fest told me they did separate sound checks. I wish them nothing but the best.

  3. 2010 April 25

    Thanks for bringing Jazz Fest events to life for me. I hated to miss it and I would have chosen S&G simply due to all of the great childhood memories I have of listening to their greatest hits on my 8-track. I agree with you that music is about feeling, memory and emotion. Off-key, flat or lack-luster, I am certain I would have retreated to the the 8-track in the recesses of my daydreamed times at Scarborough Fair.

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