Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Art Garfunkel at City Winery

In Forest Hills, Queens, Art Garfunkel discovered his love for singing in the first grade, enjoying the echo from the stairwell tiles as he sang "Unchained Melody" and "You'll Never Walk Alone" a cappella. Later, his father bought him a wire recorder and the young Garfunkel spent his afternoons singing, recording, and playing back his vocals so he could listen for flaws and improve. Garfunkel met his future singing partner, Paul Simon, in the sixth grade, when they were both cast in a school play. Between 1956 and 1962, the two performed together as Tom & Jerry, occasionally performing at school dances, but achieved initial success as Simon & Garfunkel when "The Sounds of Silence" went to number one on the Billboard pop charts. The duo split and reunited many times, won Grammy awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Garfunkel's solo career has been intermittent as he has struggled with depression and vocal cord paresis, rendering him unable to sing. He also acted in eight films from 1970's Catch-22 to 2010's The Rebound. His 12th and most recent solo album is 2007's Some Enchanted Evening.

Art Garfunkel headlined two nights at City Winery, and he used the small venue to get candid with his audience. He sang Simon & Garfunkel hits and deep cuts from his solo albums, read prose from his memoirs and spoke about his personal and musical journeys. Accompanied by acoustic guitarist Tab Laven and keyboardist Dave Mackay, Garfunkel's restored tenor and countertenor were crisp, clear and resonant. In Simon & Garfunkel's harmonies, Garfunkel normally sang the higher parts, and that is where he stayed most of the evening, softly singing light and airy melodies that were soothing and safe, very much like lullabies. He sang many of the duo's gentler hits from the 1960s, most of which were written by his former co-vocalist. Garfunkel sang solemn one-man versions of "The Sounds of Silence", "Homeward Bound", "The Boxer", "Scarborough Fair", and "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." The evening was sweet, but probably could have engaged the audience deeper had it been balanced with a harder-edged interlude of "Mrs. Robinson" and "I Am a Rock."

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