IN CONCERT: AN EVENING WITH JOHN SIMON AT THE KLEINERT/JAMES
Event Date and Time: Saturday, May 14, 2016, 8:00 pm, doors open at 7:30 pm
On May 14, the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts presents the exceptional musicianship of John Simon, a pianist, songwriter, producer, and man of story. In his performance, one in which music meets memoir, Simon will tickle the ivories and the audience’s funny bone with his original songs and draw from his manuscript, Truth, Lies, and Hearsay, tales from his life in and out of rock and roll. Bass player Rich Syracuse and drummer Jeff Siegel will accompany Simon as he plays the K/J’s historic 1926 Steinway piano.
JOHN SIMON TICKETS
John Simon is perhaps best known as one of the top record producers in the United States during the late 1960s and 1970s, responsible for classic rock albums including The Band's Music from Big Pink, The Band, and The Last Waltz; Cheap Thrills by Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin, and Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel, among many others. This latter collaboration with Simon and Garfunkel resulted in something of a turning point in John Simon's life. At the height of this jam-packed career producing albums for Columbia Records, Simon found himself being given something of a challenge by Paul Simon—no genetic relation to John, but surely an important page in his personal narrative. After playing in his living room for the celebrity Simon in 1966, John was told by Paul that he was an artist. "In the world of record-making," recounts John in his memoir, "Paul was an artist; I was a producer." Represented by Albert Grossman—the supremely savvy manager of Peter, Paul & Mary, Janis Joplin, and Bob Dylan--Simon was signed to Warner Brothers as a recording artist. His debut LP, John Simon's Album, was released in 1970. Simon also began to perform as a session musician, including on albums by Taj Mahal, Eric Clapton, Jesse Ed Davis, Dave Mason, and Howlin' Wolf.
Simon, the son of a violinist, was writing songs before he was ten years old. And now, at 75, he has created 9 albums and continues to sing, play, and revel in a career loaded with achievement in the realms of producing, songwriting, and composition: Simon wrote circus music for high wire artist Phillip Petit, famous for his walk between the towers of the World Trade Center, and two ballet scores for renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp, including When We Were Very Young on Broadway. New York Newsday referred to Simon's music as the performance's "highpoint; it's a stylish pastiche that includes elements of circus music, big band, Dixieland, baroque music, rhythm and blues and rock." He has performed at major venues including The Bottom Line, Fez, Joe's Pub, and The Blue Note in New York City, and has had four tours in Japan, including performing at The Blue Note in Tokyo.
Aside from his recording career, Simon has collaborated with his wife, C.C. Loveheart, in cabaret appearances and in the writing of a play, Jackass Flats, which had its Actors Equity, professional premiere in the summer of 2011.
John Simon's performance at the Kleinert/James will include original songs from his albums and jazz versions of selections from the Great American Songbook. Performance at 8:00 pm; doors open at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $20, $18 for Byrdcliffe members.
Photo credit: Kevin Yatarola. John Simon at Joe's Pub, New York, 2013.