Grammy Award-winning American singer Art Garfunkel, pictured in 2015, plays the Fox in Redwood City this week. (Courtesy Gil Cohen/AFP/Getty Images)

Art Garfunkel embraces newfound comfort zone

At 76, Art Garfunkel may be having more fun onstage than ever. The intense singer with the angelic voice says he’s learned to relax as a performer and revel in the moment.

“What’s amazing is that I’m finally out of my own way,” says Garfunkel, who performs Thursday in Redwood City. “Now I can really be the solo artist who’s pretty comfortable, and I can bull—- around more with the audience.”

If something goes astray, he goes with the flow. “I’m amused to see what the unscripted next moments are. ‘Something just went wrong. Oh, great — what is Artie going to do next?’”

Reaching this psychological sweet spot, Garfunkel says, has taken him decades. The native New Yorker is, of course, best known for his momentous musical partnership with Paul Simon, the duo having carved out an indelible niche in American pop culture with iconic tunes like “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “The Boxer,” “Mrs. Robinson” and “The Sound of Silence” (a recent version popped up in the animated film “Trolls”).

Garfunkel has also enjoyed a fruitful solo career, producing a string of Top 40 hits including “I Only Have Eyes for You” and his soaring 1973 version of the Jimmy Webb composition “All I Know.” This year he’s been performing at venues across the U.S., and in a phone interview from his Manhattan home he talked about embracing a “less is more” approach. In the 90-minute show, Garfunkel is accompanied by two musicians: guitarist Tab Laven and pianist Dave Mackay.

The singer pulls from his solo records, but also delivers his signature vocals on Simon & Garfunkel gems like “The Sound of Silence,” “For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her” and “Scarborough Fair.” He also incorporates readings from his recent autobiography, “What Is It All but Luminous: Notes from an Underground Man.” The book is an unusual mix, unspooling Garfunkel’s life story through flowing prose, poetry fragments, photographs, notes and lists.

“I love it,” he says. “It’s a wild labor of me.”

Garfunkel struggled with his pure, tenor voice after suffering a vocal-cord injury in 2010, causing the cancellation of a Simon & Garfunkel reunion tour. He finally recovered from the long and frightening ordeal a few years ago, and says the voice now “is 100 percent.”

The turbulent relationship between Simon and Garfunkel has been well-chronicled. Asked whether he thinks the two will ever team up again, Garfunkel says, “I don’t see it happening.” But he readily acknowledges the magic of their music-making process.

“I hear that wonderful picking, that guitar playing, and we sing—it’s somewhat effortless for the singing to fall back into the blend—and our ears are delighted and the fun of sharing it sets in and before you know it, you’re rehearsing.”

For now, however, he is savoring his solo performances. “These shows,” says Garfunkel, “are very alive and cooking for me.”

Art Garfunkel
Where: Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway, Redwood City
When: 8 p.m. April 19
Tickets: $42 to $97
Contact: (650) 369-7770,
Art GarfunkelDave MackayPop MusicRedwood CityTab LavenWhat Is It All but Luminous: Notes from an Underground Man

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