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Colorado Springs Symphony performs with Simon and Garfunkel tribute duo

January 9, 2014 Updated: January 9, 2014 at 5:25 pm
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photo - Jonathan Beedle and A.J. Swearingen will perform in "Sounds of Simon and Garfunkel" with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic.
Jonathan Beedle and A.J. Swearingen will perform in "Sounds of Simon and Garfunkel" with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. 

With A.J. Swearingen, Jonathan Beedle, conductor Michael Krajewski and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10-11, Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave., $19-$61; 520-7469, ticketswest.com, pikespeakcenter.com.

A.J. Swearingen plays one half of the famous musical duo Simon and Garfunkel.

He's Paul Simon and Jonathan Beedle is Art Garfunkel, and their tribute duo has toured the country channeling the famous 1960s folk musicians for 20 years. Recently, they added the background sounds of symphonies across the country to their act.

"The music is timeless. It's great songwriting, great arrangements and songs," Swearingen says from his home in Pennsylvania. "Paul Simon was an amazing guitar player, very underrated. John and I both find it challenging to walk on stage every night and perform those songs. We try to perform it as it was written. You have to be on top of your game."

The two met in a nightclub two decades ago. Swearingen was performing songs by other folk musicians, such as Cat Stevens and James Taylor. They started talking musical influences, one thing led to another, and Swearingen says he and Beedle were up on stage that night singing Simon and Garfunkel tunes.

"It was one of those things where you didn't even have to talk about what you're going to do," Swearingen says. "Our voices just go right together that was reminiscent of that sound. We don't try to sound like them. I just feel that we understand the music very well. We studied it and over the years we've honed our version of this material."

The duo now perform with various symphonies around the country, under the direction of symphony pops conductor Michael Krajewski, who pitched the idea to them about a year and a half ago. The Colorado Springs Philharmonic will back the duo and also perform some Simon and Garfunkel on its own, along with some of Simon's later solo works.

"These songs, their body of work, was so diverse that a lot of people didn't realize there were big string arrangements on a lot of these," Swearingen says. "Like (the song) 'Old Friends' on (the album) 'Bookends.' It was dripping with string instruments. 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' - anything off the 'Bridge' album, there was a lot of string."

Jennifer Mulson, jen.mulson@gazette.com

OTHER EVENTS

Pauline Reese - 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, Stargazers Theatre and Event Center, 10 S. Parkside Drive, free; 476-2200, stargazerstheatre.com.

"Drawing Fire on the Westside" - With Chuck Asay, cartoons and stories, 11 a.m.-noon Friday, Jan. 10, Old Colorado City History Center, 1 S. 24th St., free; 636-1225, occhs.org.

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