Dobro master Jerry Douglas was midway through his set at New York’s tiny B.B. King Blues Club on Friday night, when he stopped to introduce “a very well-known friend of mine. I hope he’s here.”
The fellow, it turns out, was Paul Simon (Douglas has opened for Simon on tour in recent years). Simon poked his head out from the side of the stage and grinned while audience members rose to their feet, pulling out their camera phones. Looking casual in jeans, a brown jacket and fedora, Simon grabbed a bulky acoustic and began finger picking a gorgeous, spare version of “The Boxer,” closing his eyes as he sang the melody. He appeared to relish being backed by bluegrass aficionados, leaving his mic to get close to Douglas to watch him play the melody on his guitar. “A musician like Jerry should be surrounded by extraordinary musicians,” Simon said. “And that certainly is the case tonight.”
After Simon left, Douglas looked just as stunned as anybody. “That actually happened,” he said. “That wasn’t a flashback.”
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