Paul Simon Surprise Appearance in Rochester

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Picture via Paul Simon Facebook page

Music fans gathered at the Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre for the Rochester Music Hall of Fame 2018 induction ceremony were treated to a surprise appearance by Paul Simon Sunday night. The singer-songwriter, who is planning a farewell tour this year, turned up to celebrate the induction of two inductees, drummer Steve Gadd, and bassist Tony Levin, both of whom have worked with Simon.

The Rochester, N.Y., crowd erupted in cheers at the introduction of Simon. Strapping on an acoustic guitar, Simon asked the audience if they had any requests. With a barrage of song titles coming his way, he then joked, “I don’t do requests.” Simon then told a story of writing a song, using a drum machine to set the rhythm. He then went into the studio, where Levin and Gadd were present, along with several other musicians, as well as producer Phil Ramone.  Simon then asked Gadd what he was going to play, to which the drummer replied, “I practiced this little thing that I learned in the Army Drum Corps. Maybe that’ll work.”

At the ceremony, Gadd then launched into the familiar opening drum intro to Simon’s classic “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover,” followed by Simon and the rest of the band. At the song’s conclusion, Simon said that it was “a pleasure to be here tonight with old friends,” followed by an age-related crack. “We’ve known each other over 40 years,” he said, then told another studio story. He told the musicians at the time to jam on the old uptempo Junior Parker blues tune “Mystery Train,” which led to Levin coming up with an interesting bass line. The result was “Late in the Evening,” which Simon and the band played next at the Rochester event—along with a detour into Little Richard’s “Lucille.”

Related: More details about Paul Simon’s farewell tour

Other honorees included 85-year-old percussionist/professor John Beck, composer Ferdinand Jay Smith III and the gospel group the Campbell Brothers.

Watch the Paul Simon segment of the Rochester Music Hall of Fame event

Tickets to Simon’s farewell tour are available here and here.

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