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Putting their own spin on Paul Simon

Kevin Ramessar is going back to Graceland, and you’re welcome to come along. No need to pack for Memphis: you won’t have to go any farther than Kitchener, as the noted guitarist and a stellar lineup of bandmates perform the music of Paul Simon.

Noted guitarist Kevin Ramessar has brought together a range of musicians to perform in a pair of Paul Simon tribute concerts this weekend at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener.
Noted guitarist Kevin Ramessar has brought together a range of musicians to perform in a pair of Paul Simon tribute concerts this weekend at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener.

The shows Friday and Saturday night mark the second such tribute by Ramessar, the first one last year having been a resounding success. More of Simon’s music will fill the Registry Theatre this time around.

“The first show came out of a discussion about doing some kind of tribute to an artist that inspired several generations. Paul Simon is that kind of musician – a lot of his music spans time and a whole lot of genres,” said Ramessar from his Kitchener home.

The more he listened to Simon’s music, the more he fell in love with it. As a much-hailed guitar player, Ramessar was also happy to discover that Simon is an accomplished guitarist, not just a great songwriter.

“That really gave me something to sink my teeth into.”

Adding to his excitement about these new shows are the performers he’s lined up to join him. Ramessar’s coup for this concert is the legendary violinist Hugh Marsh, renowned for playing with Bruce Cockburn, Robert Palmer and Loreena McKennitt, among others.

Also on board is Elmira singer Giselle Sanderson (Lace), drummer Paul Delong (Kim Mitchell, David Clayton-Thomas), Jeff King, saxophone (2007 JUNO winner for Best Contemporary Jazz Album), bassist Matt Lima (Kellylee Evans, Dawn Langstroth), singer-songwriter Jacob Moon, and keyboard player and vocalist Mike Janzen.

“This is a bit of a dream team for me,” said Ramessar. “Playing with these guys is really raising the bar.”

He’s performed with some of them before, but has been trying to collaborate with others for many years, the timing never seeming to work, but “things came together for this show.”

This group has been assembled specifically for this weekend’s shows. Rehearsals have been a whole lot of fun, he said, not the least because each of the musicians has contributed to the interpretations of Simon’s music. More than a tribute, the concerts will put a fresh spin on the songs.

The mark of a well-written song is that it works even with different takes on the music and lyrics, Ramessar said.

“It’s the kind of music that lends itself to other arrangements. It lets you have room to breathe.”
On tap are some of Simon’s hits, naturally, but also some of the hidden gems. Given the songwriter’s extensive catalogue, there were many to choose from.

“There are some smaller songs that, as a band, we love. We’ve changed things here and there, made them our own.”

Kevin Ramessar’s Return to Graceland, The Songs of Paul Simon, Volume 2 hits the stage Mar. 12 and 13 at 8 p.m. at the Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St., Kitchener. Tickets are $25, available at the Centre in the Square box office by calling 578-1570 or toll free 1-800-265-8977 or online at www.centre-square.com.

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