Music The Theatre

Overview

Paul Simon is a name that has cemented itself into the “hearts and bones” of audiences all over the world. As an artist, his name has become synonymous, not only with music, but with cultural history.

In this brand-new show, singer-songwriter Gary Edward Jones not only recites the music of one of his idols, but also tells the unique story of Paul Simon combining visuals, stage design and, of course… the music.

After years of comparisons, Gary set out on a journey of discovery and for over two years, he lived and breathed all things Simon, creating a show which has received five-star reviews and standing ovations across the UK and has just completed a hugely successful run at Edinburgh Fringe receiving 4 star reviews across the board.

A natural storyteller, with charisma and a certain charm, Gary weaves together songs and stories that cross the Atlantic, from New Jersey to the North-west of England. He traces the sometimes-poignant moments in Simon’s life and career, that occasionally mirror his own.

With classic ballads like The Sound of Silence, America and Kathy’s Song, to the more upbeat Wristband and The Boxer to the much-loved Bridge Over Troubled Water. The show will have you both reliving and rediscovering these great songs again.

Something About Simon is not a tribute show; it is one musician authentically honouring the music of another. For around ninety minutes, allow Gary Edward Jones to take you back to those days and tell you Something About Simon.

Interview with Gary Edward Jones

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT PAUL SIMON, YOUR PERSONAL THOUGHTS ABOUT HIM AS A FELLOW MUSICIAN?

 

GEJ: After studying Paul Simon for the past three years, I do feel I could now pick up the phone and have a conversation with him. Given the amount of research and playing I’ve done, he seems like a friend now more than a hero. I hadn’t really taken much notice of Paul while growing up – but that has now changed. I totally respect him as a songwriter. It’s only when you study someone this deeply that you get to understand what makes this person tick and just how good they really are. I’d now go as far as saying that Paul Simon is an absolute genius!

 

ANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU?

GEJ: I’d been compared to Paul for such a long time but I didn’t understand why. During a holiday with my wife Elizabeth three years ago, I asked her what the comparison was. She replied: “It’s because you’re short and you write good songs.” Clearly a very supportive wife! I’ve since asked a lot of people and most of the replies are that I have the “same sweet delivery as him vocally”, “your songs are very versatile from one to the next”, and “your finger styles are similar”.

 

THE SHOW HAS BEEN THREE YEARS IN THE MAKING. WHAT INSPIED YOU TO START?

GEJ: After the complimentary comparisons, I felt it best to do one show about Paul Simon, put this chapter to bed once and for all, then move on with my own career. We put a pilot show together and performed at the National Brewery Centre in Burton Upon Trent, Staffordshire – but I wasn’t expecting a standing ovation, and never expected to be mobbed afterwards. That was a total shock to say the very least. I think because I’d spent a lot of time learning the songs authentically, the performance really resonated with fans of Paul Simon. They were hanging off every word, every note. So given the audience reaction, and knowing I had touched people – I knew then it wasn’t going to be the end of my Paul Simon journey.

 

PAUL SIMON HAS RETIRED FROM TOURING, SO THIS IS THE CLOSEST HIS FANS WILL HAVE TO NOT ONLY EXPERIENCE THE MUSIC, BUT ALSO LEARN MORE ABOUT HIS STORY. IS THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU?

GEJ: My only goals when I set out was firstly to not be a tribute, but to also learn the songs authentically – to perform them exactly as they would have been heard as original vinyl. Coupled with similar vocal deliveries, I knew I had a winner. I just didn’t realise the scale it would become. Having spent three years studying him, I feel there are so many things about Paul’s music and life that people still don’t know. Even in the short time we’ve played the show to audiences, they’re still surprised that he was married to Carrie Fisher; didn’t get on with Art Garfunkel; and apparently he wrote Homeward Bound on Widnes train station platform and not Warrington. People were arguing about it after my Epstein Theatre show in Liverpool which I found amusing. When I played Only Living Boy and America, people were crying because I’d taken them back to situations in their lives. It’s the best feeling.

 

THERE ARE STORIES ABOUT PAUL’S LIFE BETWEEN SONGS, WHY WAS THAT IMPORTANT? HOW MUCH RESEARCH DID YOU HAVE TO DO?

GEJ: I’ve always felt the show should have a narrative running throughout which knits the songs together. I chose all the songs to run chronologically so we could work our way through the years and watch Paul grow as a person and a songwriter, and I feel people have understood that well. If we didn’t have a narrative, I might as well have put on a wig and a polar neck to become the tribute I never wanted from the outset. The research took over 12 months as I was toying with the idea of the show originally being a play based on the 1974 Dick Cavett interviews. In those interviews, Paul would play a song then carry on with the interview. He would also play half written songs and try to finish some of them with Dick Cavett’s help – they’re a great watch!

 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE SHOW?

GEJ: That’s a tough one! I would probably describe the show as an authentic perspective of Paul Simon’s life through music and spoken word. When I say authentic, I mean that I really have spent two of the three years studying the songs and the delivery. It’s not a show I’ve rehearsed for a fortnight then performed to the public. It’s more a case of I’ve locked myself in a room with vinyl copies of Paul’s albums, his lyrics, his posters, and his books. All sounds a bit intense but the proof is in the pudding – three shows and three standing ovations. That’s when you realise you have something very special.

 

WHAT MAKES SOMETHING ABOUT SIMON SO DIFFERENT AND UNIQUE FROM OTHER PAUL SIMON SHOWS?

GEJ: Well the good thing is there are not many Paul Simon shows, mainly only Simon and Garfunkel ones. As to what makes Something About Simon so different – well it is totally stripped back, just me, my guitars, the songs and the stories. You can’t get much more raw than that. I’ve taken my lead from his first album, The Paul Simon Songbook. The album is just him and his guitar and, in my opinion, this is his best ever album. Perfection! The audience totally get it, although they don’t know what to expect when the show starts and that’s what I like, they just come with me on the journey. Coupled with the minimal abstract multi-media and the stage props, it resonates with the fans of his music. Plus, I’m just being myself throughout.

 

HOW MUCH INPUT DID YOU HAVE TO THE SPECIALLY DESIGNED VIDEO?

GEJ: I have to admit, I handed that job over to my wife and Artistic Director, Elizabeth Anne Jones, and my brother-in-law and Visual Director Jonathan Kearney – it’s a real family project! My only brief is we have to be cute, different, no cheese and certainly no spinning faces of Paul and Art. It had to be fresh and appealing, and we’re all thrilled with the final result.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK PAUL SIMON WOULD SAY ABOUT THE SHOW – WOULD HE LIKE IT / WOULD YOU LIKE HIM TO SEE IT?

GEJ: When we wrote the show, we always had in mind that Paul may one day come and see it, so the brief right from the off was always to make it accessible to Paul and for nothing to be detrimental about him in the show that would make him feel uncomfortable. So I would hope that he would love the show! 

 

DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PAUL SIMON SONG?

GEJ: Wow that is an impossible question to answer. There are so many. I cried when I had to cut songs from the original show, which means I’ll be in bits having to condense the show for the Edinburgh run. It’s fair to say the songs have become my friends.

 

HAS THIS BEEN A SPECIAL EXPERIENCE?

GEJ: It is, without a doubt, the best artistic experience I’ve ever had. It’s become a real labour of love. Firstly, I never knew I had it in me to be so persistent, so I’ve learned a lot about myself throughout the creative process. But having people around me like Elizabeth, Jonathan, and Bill [Producer Bill Elms], they believe in the show and encourage me in every way. That has been priceless.

 

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN PAUL PERFORM LIVE?

GEJ: Sadly I haven’t seen Paul perform live – this is my life’s regret. Paul has retired from international touring but he’s still performing in the States occasionally, so there is still a glimmer of hope! Plus I’m glad I haven’t seen him play live yet, well at least until our show was complete. My memories and inspirations creating the show are that of a 20-year-old Paul Simon, with attitude and conviction shouting ‘take notice of me’ – so I might have had a shock if I’d have seen him more recently. I guess he now prefers to sit in his comfortable chair on his wrap around porch, with his guitar and a cup of tea. I know that’s what I’d be doing if I’d had his career.

 

ANYTHING YOU’VE LEARNED ABOUT PAUL WHICH HAS REALLY STUCK WITH YOU?

GEJ: We are exactly the same and I think that’s what has driven the show. What I mean by that is, when I listen to his early stuff, I hear myself. The difference is, I’m still shouting ‘take notice of me’.

 

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE COME TO SEE IT?

GEJ: It’s a true representation of a genius, sympathetic but with attitude, and without being a tribute act – that was crucial. It’s also my journey of discovery to find out what the comparisons between him and I are, and it’s been an amazing journey. It’s been wonderful learning these beautiful songs and discovering the man behind the music. The show features an incredible collection of songs performed as authentically as they were written. I’ve taken a lot of care and time putting the show together so if the man himself came along, I’d like to think he could sit there and reminisce, and maybe even bring a tear to his eye. Who knows? One thing is for sure though, he’d go away happy – as will the Edinburgh audiences.

Five Things You May Not Know About Paul Simon

  1. What’s in a name?

In the late 1950s Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel wrote songs together as ‘Tom and Jerry’. Simon then went on to release singles as ‘True Taylor’ and ‘Paul Kane’ before charting as ‘Jerry Landis’ and scoring minor hits as ‘Tico & the Triumphs’.

  1. Simon and Simon

In 1975 Paul Simon co-hosted influential US TV comedy show Saturday Night Live with US Senator Paul Simon. He has been friends with SNL regular Chevy Chase ever since.

  1. Look, both hands!

Paul Simon is left-handed but plays the guitar right-handed.

  1. What might have been…

In 1974 Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel attended a studio session with John Lennon and Harry Nilsson, but when he and Lennon clashed over a cue Simon walked out followed by Garfunkel, making apologies.

  1. Not homesick

In 1965 Simon was enjoying a measure of success in the UK with his first solo album until he was forced to return home by his US record company to revive his partnership with Garfunkel. The album, The Paul Simon Songbook went out of print, only to be reissued in 2004.

Ticket Information

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