What happens when a piano player takes on folk music performed by a duo?
If it’s Jim Witter, you end up Feelin’ Groovy.
Witter, renowned for piano-based performances of the music of Elton John and Billy Joel, returns to Springfield with Feelin’ Groovy, his take on Simon and Garfunkel.
The show next Thursday, Sept. 19, is the annual Richard L. and Barbara D. Kuss Memorial Concert. The show is free, but tickets are required. It will be at 7 p.m. at the Clark State Performing Arts Center’s Kuss Auditorium.
This show is appropriate for all audiences. Tickets will not be available online.
“I’ve been playing shows for 12 years and gotten a lot of suggestions for other music to cover, and the one that kept coming back consistently was Simon and Garfunkel,” said Witter.
Given Witter is best known for his piano-based covers, it presented a challenge. Especially when Simon and Garfunkel’s only recognizable keyboard-based song is “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
For this show he’s trading the ivories for a guitar. And Witter isn’t alone, bringing on singer Ian Tanner to complete the duo.
“When the music is great that doesn’t matter. This music speaks to the ’60s for me,” said Witter. “It’s about nostalgia, about the music I grew up with that my brothers were playing when I was a kid.”
Witter stressed Feelin’ Groovy is not a tribute act. The idea is not to look and sound just like Simon and Garfunkel, but to put his signature on the duo’s beloved songbook.
“People are familiar with how ‘Scarborough Fair’ goes, but we want to put it in our own voices,” he said.
This means Witter may be Simon and Tanner Garfunkel on one song, then vice versa. Tunes will include hits such as “Cecilia,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “The Boxer” “I Am a Rock” and more.
Though the songs are the main draw, a giant screen will show news bits and footage of the era as further reference point.
Witter said Springfield is the perfect type of town for his show, not too large and not too small. In his experience he’s found the smaller the town the warmer the audience.
“We go in and want to establish a friendship with the audience that I hope they will remember as they leave.”
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