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Spotlight: Simon & Garfunkel tribute concert

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Submitted Photo Singer/songwriter duo A.J. Swearingen and Jane Kelli will perform classic hits from Simon & Garfunkel at the Roswell Community Little Theatre.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Fundraising event takes place at the Roswell Community Little Theatre

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

The iconic music of the American folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel will again be heard on Nov. 6 in a new, refreshingly unique way by the singer/songwriter duo A.J. Swearingen and Jayne Kelli.

The husband and wife team was contacted by organizer Laurie Schotz of Best Schotz Productions, who was looking for a music act for a fundraising event that would benefit the Roswell Community Little Theatre (RCLT). The theater is in need of a new roof before winter hits. The other nonprofit organization benefiting from the event are the Roswell Kiwanis, which is going to use its share of the fundraising money for Roswell’s future inclusive park at Cielo Grande Recreation Area.

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Swearingen and Kelli are traveling to Roswell from Nashville, Tennessee. In a phone interview, they talked about their music and how they found each other.

“We actually met in St. Petersburg, Florida,” Swearingen said. “There was an original music club that we both performed at and that’s where we met. I heard her playing her songs one night. We were introduced and we just started collaborating on our original material. Then we decided we wanted to perform and tour the country as a duo. We loved Simon & Garfunkel music, and I remember one day I just started playing a song and she jumped on the harmony and it was just so enjoyable to do it. We have so much respect for that music. That’s how it all started.”

Kelli said that they also perform their own music, which is folk, Americana with a touch of country, she said.

Asked how she became a musician, Kelli said, “I am the first one who went off and did it professionally. But my mom and dad — in fact, I have his Martin guitar now — they would perform (at) a little lake community around a bonfire, and they were playing all the ’60s and ’70s classics (to) entertain the neighbors at parties. That’s how I got into it.”

Swearingen said that he is giving his mother the credit of inspiring him to become a musician. “When I grew up, I would constantly hear music during the day. And that was a big influence on me. At the age of 13, I started playing the acoustic guitar. That was my first love of music. Then I discovered I didn’t want to play in all these garage bands and (try) to ‘keep the band together.’”

According to Swearingen, his breakthrough change in style was when he heard the rerun of Simon & Garfunkel’s concert “Live in Central Park.”

“I was so struck by the singing and the harmonies. It was that moment I really started working on my singing; and then, eventually, by the age of 18, I went full time. I was playing four, five nights a week as a solo entertainer, up and down the East Coast as a soloist. That’s how I got my start, playing cover material,” Swearingen said.

The duos two performances, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., will feature Simon & Garfunkel songs from the five albums they put out between the years 1966 and 1970. These songs will include “Sound of Silence,” Mrs. Robinson,” Bridge over Troubled Water,” “Cecilia,” “America” and “The Boxer.”

“We like doing some of the obscure stuff, too,” Swearingen said. “We usually find with our audiences, they remember everything. It is definitely a nostalgic show, and we feel, when people come out to us, they relive that era of their life, which is a lot of fun for us. It’s about music, but we also talk a bit. We’re very interactive with the audience and we joke around with the audience. That’s what our show’s about.”

Asked if they had been in the area before, Kelli said, “No, we haven’t, and we are so excited to come see Roswell. We already scheduled an extra day, just to explore your museum (International UFO Museum and Research Center).”

There are different levels of tickets available to support the theater and Roswell Kiwanis. First are the basic concert tickets. The others are reserved seating and VIP tickets. The VIP tickets include a glass of wine, a taste of Roswell’s restaurants and a pre-concert meet and greet. Additionally, there will be a silent auction.

For more information, visit roswelltheatre.com or call 575-573-8119. RCLT is located at 1717 S. Union Ave.

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