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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Art Garfunkel embracing life on stage

12/5/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Art Garfunkel will perform as part of the intimate Stage Door series at E.J. Thomas Hall Dec. 11
Photo courtesy of E.J. Thomas Hall
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Art Garfunkel is gearing up for a few shows, including an intimate one as part of the Stage Door series at The University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall, after dealing with voice issues that he is happy to report are almost gone.

“I’m getting the voice back,” said Garfunkel in a phone interview from his home in New York City. “Three years ago, I could not finesse my midrange and had to sit on the sidelines for awhile.”

Being unable to do his life’s work was difficult for Garfunkel, who with partner Paul Simon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for their work as Simon and Garfunkel.

“I wept over the tragedy of being a lifelong singer who could not sing,” he said.

He said his voice is now between 90 percent and 100 percent back to normal.

“I’m thrilled,” he said. “Finally, you start doing shows for people, and you invite them in and it’s show business.”

With just guitarist Tab Laven accompanying him on stage in Akron Dec. 11, Garfunkel said he’ll sing about 15 of his songs and take questions from the audience.

For an artist like Garfunkel, who performed before half a million people with Simon in their famed concert in Central Park more than 30 years ago, the intimacy of a smaller venue can be a little nerve-wracking, he said.

“When the audience is huge and you don’t see them except for the first row, there’s the human factor, but everyone else is out in the dark, and it’s easy to sing to the dark,” he said. “To go into a song is to go into another world, a world of flight and music, and you don’t want to blow your concentration.”

Garfunkel said he’s happy to be a stage performer today rather than a recording artist. His last release, The Singer, is a two CD compilation of songs such as “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” “The Sound of Silence” and “I Only Have Eyes for You” that was released in 2012. But he doesn’t plan to release anything new at this point in his career.

“I don’t believe in recording,” he said. “I feel the recording business has faded on me. There have always been two outlets: the recording studio and the stage. I am decidedly a stage performer. I made The Singer to say ‘Here it is, folks, my life’s work.’ When I go to heaven and they say, what did you do on Earth, I’ll say I sang.”

Changes in the music business have left him frustrated, he added.

“Are we supposed to think the music business is evolving or degenerating?” he asked. “I’m cynical. I look for truth and beauty elsewhere now.”

Among the places he finds something that still gives him hope is on the many walks he has taken in the United States and abroad. Beginning in the 1980s, Garfunkel started walking across the U.S. in weeklong, 100-mile segments. He’s been walking in recent years in Europe and just completed part of Greece.

“I left off at the border of Greece and Turkey, and I have 100 more miles to Istanbul,” he said. “Only a nutty guy would do this.”

But the jaunts have led him to find the commonalities among people and have his faith restored in the good of humanity.

“Everywhere I’ve walked, I’ve found people are lovely, and there’s nothing to be afraid of out there,” he said. “Everyone is just trying to get through the day and get to heaven in their own way.”

Doors will open for the 7:30 p.m. show at 6:30 p.m. at E.J. Thomas Hall, 198 Hill St. Tickets are $65 and available at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. There is a limit of four tickets. For more information, call the Thomas Hall Ticket Office at 330-972-7570 or visit uaevents.com.

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