.We met up with Dan Haynes and Pete Richards of Bookends, whose Simon & Garfunkel Through the Years show has been a sell-out success in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Over a coffee, we chatted with Dan and Pete about the show, and their background from first meeting to becoming successful performers.
Dan and Pete first met in their first year at secondary school, at the age of 11, and began singing together in their last year at school. They work so well together because of that friendship. They explained that they almost instinctively understand each other musically, and that at times when they sing in unison it sounds like one voice.
Pete’s first introduction to the music of Simon & Garfunkel was through his dad, who was a fan, and he in turn introduced Dan to the music. Pete told us that they both had paper rounds, and at the point where their two rounds crossed they would meet up and Pete would get Dan to listen to the Simon & Garfunkel music that he’d been listening to, and Dan eventually became a fan too. When asked what first drew them into the music, Pete said it was the harmonies before the lyrics, whereas Dan said that it was Paul Simon’s guitar playing that first interested him.
Dan and Pete started singing together because of their love of Simon & Garfunkel’s music, but hadn’t really thought of it as a career move. They thought at first they might perform at events such as weddings, and then were offered a gig in a village hall. Dan said it was just a way of earning a bit of extra pocket money, and they performed because of their passion for the music. They never imagined it would become a full time career, which it now is.
As well as the two man show which has been such a success in the Fringe, they also have a two hour touring show, which will be performing with a string quartet. With the longer show they are able to go into much more detail and of course include more songs and more video. We asked if they have to re-arrange their music to work with the other musicians, but they explained that the string quartet have to fit around what they already do.
We commented that a lot of Simon & Garfunkel fans consider Paul Simon’s writing to be the biggest part of their success, and wondered whether Dan and Pete agreed with this. Dan agreed that without Paul Simon’s songs they wouldn’t have had that success, but feels that Paul Simon also knew there was something very special in their two voices together. We also asked whether they would agree that Simon & Garfunkel’s music feels closer to traditional English folk music roots rather than Americana. They both agreed with this, and said that Paul Simon simply loved England. He studied English Literature, lived in England for a few years and had an English girlfriend. He had also studied English folk music while he was there, which has obviously influenced his writing.
When asked about their audiences, Dan and Pete said they mostly get the 40+ age group, although they do get slightly younger audiences at the Fringe, including family groups.
For their two-man Fringe show, they can’t possibly recreate the studio sound, but have to give it more energy because there’s only the two of them on stage. Dan said that if you can strip a song down to guitar and two voices and it still holds up, then it’s a good song, and this certainly holds true for all the songs they perform in their set.
We wondered if, as well as recreating the Simon & Garfunkel sound, they had any plans to write and perform any compositions of their own. Dan told us that they are hoping to release an EP which will include a couple of their own songs, which we’re looking forward to hearing, but that they remain passionate about Simon & Garfunkel and hugely enjoy performing their songs.
Interview by Tom King & Lisa Sibbald
Our review of one of their recent shows is also online
SIMON AND GARFUNKEL THROUGH THE YEARS SYMPOSIUM HALL SUNDAY 21st AUGUST