An eclectic mix of artists paid tribute to Simon & Garfunkel at New York’s Rumsey Playfield in Central Park last night. The seated gala officially opened Central Park’s 25th anniversary SummerStage concert series, which features a mix of free and ticketed shows in Rumsey Playfield and other areas of the city each summer. Widespread Panic, David Byrne, RatDog, String Cheese Incident, moe., Gov’t Mule, Burning Spear, Femi Kuti, the Disco Biscuits, Susan Tedeschi, Vampire Weekend, the Jayhawks, Guster, Soulive, John Scofield, Umphrey’s McGee, Matisyahu, Phoenix, Jack Johnson, G. Love, Robert Randolph and Bruce Hornsby are just some of the bands that have played SummerStage shows in recent years.

Simon & Garfunkel’s music has been synonymous with Central Park since the duo’s historic reunion concert in 1981. The free show took place north of Rumsey Playfield on Central Park’s Great Lawn and drew an estimated 500,000 fans. Paul Simon staged a similar solo concert in Central Park in 1991. Though they did not perform, both Simon and Art Garfunkel attended last night’s event.

The evening opened with introductions from Mayor Bloomberg and WFUV’s Rita Houston. Most of the show consisted of unique artist pairings arranged by Knitting Factory founder and City Winery owner Michael Dorf. Those pairings included
Dar Williams & Stephen Kellogg (“We’ve Got A Groovy Thing Goin‘”), Jorma Kaukonen & Larry Campbell (“Baby Driver”), Cory Chisel & Brendan Benson (“El Condor Pasa”), Ricky Skaggs, Joan Osborne, & Gordon Kennedy (“I Am A Rock”), Ben Gibbard & St. Vincent (“Fakin’ It”), Alejandro Escovedo & Willie Nile (“The Boxer”), Jill Sobule & Livingston Taylor (“59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)”), Shawn Colvin & Paula Cole (“America”), Loudon Wainwright III & Lucy Wainwright (“Roche Bleecker Street”) and Aimee Mann & John Roderick (“The Only Living Boy In New York”). The Holmes Brothers, Ollabelle and Dean & Britta also participated in the event. A group sing-along based around “Bridge Over Troubled Water” closed the night.

Central Park’s SummerStage series will continue with performances by Gov’t Mule, Pavement, the XX, the Flaming Lips, the Black Keys, Toubab Krewe and Ween, among others.