(tribute albums I should have been on)
I am not sure who picked the artists - Paul Simon himself, the programming powers at BAM or a combination? - but I do know that the line up was diverse to the point of diffuse...ambient mellow indie rock, straight up blues, and heart-on-the-sleeve male Celine Dion. The uniting element of the night was of course Paul Simon and his music, which luckily for everyone, could have made a great night of high school choirs showcasing his songs (or wait, is that a level of hell?).
The Roches started out the evening, a group of sisters who've known Paul for years. The highlight of their tiny set was "Cecelia," which Paul guested on. Frankly, I think it is next to impossible to f--- up"Cecilia," so of course everyone loved it. It also featured some of the most ridiculous, amazing dancing ever by the eldest sister.
The groups that followed - Gillian Welch, Grizzly Bear, Olu Dara, Josh Groban...(wait who? really? what? more on him in a second) - played two or three songs, usually a classic and a lesser known item, but with the exception of Grizzly Bear, the musicians stuck pretty closely to the original conception of the song. Grizzly Bear's "Mother and Child Reunion" was slowed, a bit melancholy, gauzy. Their "Graceland," a recent staple of their own shows before this, was incredibly wistful. I am a biased observer - Grizzly Bear is one of my favorite bands - but I couldn't help but feel that everyone else would have benefited from taking a few more chances musically, making their songs their own in a similar vein. Well, everyone else but Josh Groban.