JUST over a year ago, on July 11, 2018, Paul Simon played Glasgow’s SSE Hydro as part of his farewell concert tour, entitled Homeward Bound.

It’s thus unlikely that we’ll see him on stage in this country again, but if you are missing the sound of his distinctive songs being sung on stage, the Cardross Estate, at Port of Menteith, is the place to be on Sunday.

This is where Glasgow’s Glad Community Choir, part of the bill at the 10th anniversary Doune the Rabbit Hole festival, will be singing the songs of the great New Jersey-born songwriter.

The Southside-based choir, whose members range in age from 18 to late seventies, have taken on Simon’s songs before now; he thus joins a select range of artists that also includes David Bowie and Carol King to Brian Wilson, the seventies singer Judee Sill, Karen Carpenter and Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

“We try as much as possible to keep our choices in some kind of theme, and to try to educate people about different artists,” says Alexis Stearns, who has been choir leader since its inception in 2012.

“In terms of themes, we’ve looked at women artists, we’ve looked at mental health, we did a Moondog theme [Moondog was the late Louis Thomas Hardin, a blind musician, composer and inventor of musical instruments]. For our next theme I think we may cover different film soundtracks and TV themes.

“When we do Paul Simon, we’re slightly going off the beaten track and we’re pulling out some of the songs he did alongside Art Garfunkel in their duo, Tom and Jerry. We’ve gone way back to the fifties.

“I’ve arranged a song that, as far as I know, has never been recorded anywhere. He once did an interview saying it was the first song he ever wrote.”

That song, The Girl for Me, is described in Peter Ames Carlin’s Simon biography, Homeward Bound, as ‘a paean to a flower-bedecked dream girl whom the singer will love forever, knowing that she’ll always be true.’

“I’ve always been an admirer of what Paul Simon does,” adds Stearns. “I think we wanted a nod to his really extensive career. He has such a massive catalogue.”

Other Simon songs will include a selection of his years with Garfunkel - El Condor Pasa, and Mrs Robinson - and from his own solo career: 50 Ways to Leave your Lover, Homeless (from the Graceland album) and Somebody, One Day, which was a Simon-penned hit in this country for The Seekers, the Australian outfit who also charted in the mid-sixties with Georgy Girl, The Carnival is Over, and I’ll Never Find Another You.

The choir’s concert on Sunday will close with The Only Living Boy in New York, from Bridge Over Troubled Water, S&G’s classic 1970 release, and their fifth and final studio album.

The song is one of Stearns’ favourites. “It lends itself so well to the choir,” she says. “It’s interesting doing a lot of his songs, because he’s definitely a solo singer. When he sings, sometime he almost falls into talking; it’s very rhythmical, though it doesn’t always lend itself to a choir.

“There are, for example, songs that I really wanted to do - You Can Call Me Al, or Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes [both from Graceland] - but they don’t really lend themselves to a choir without having a solo singer. We tend to avoid solo singers where we can.”

Sunday will be the choir’s third time at Doune the Rabbit Hole. The first time, in 2015, they sang the songs of Bacharach and David; the following year, they took on David Bowie (videos of the choir singing Bowie’s Space Oddity and Life on Mars are among those that can be viewed on YouTube).

They will, incidentally, be sharing Sunday’s bill with a fine variety of acts, headlined by The Wailers, Battles, Hawkwind, Blanck Mass and the acclaimed Inverness-born singer songwriter, Kathryn Joseph.

Yesterday’s headliners were The Damned, Hot 8 Brass Band, and Lee Scratch Perry; today’s are Sister Sledge, John Grant, Beak> and Asian Dub Foundation.

“We’re very much looking forward to Sunday,” Stearns says of the choir and its leader, Rory Haye.

“Doune almost feels like home,” she adds. “ I was at the first festival, 10 years ago, and helped to stage-manage the event. And both Rory and myself are good friends with Jamie Murray, who started the festival. It’s been really nice, watching it grow arms and legs over the years.”

The choir itself has grown over the last seven years and is associated with the popular venue, the Glad Cafe, on Pollokshaws Road.

“The cafe had just opened and they were trying to get the Glad Foundation off the ground at that time [in 2012].

“Rory and I had joked about starting a choir. My brother was working behind the bar at the cafe and he mentioned it to Rachel Smillie, who owns the cafe. And I got a phone call from her, saying, ‘We’d love to have a choir - do you want to start on Monday?’

“So it began as a joke idea over a few glasses of wine but actually it ended up very quickly becoming a Monday-night staple at the cafe.

“The choir was set up in 2015 as an independent, community-interest company. Though we run alongside the cafe we’re independent of it, and all of our profits are funnelled back into the foundation, the charity that is attached to the cafe.”

The choir has some 90 people on its register and there is a staple of 75 that attends every Monday night.

It’s interesting to note that, in addition to public appearances, the choir has also collaborated with a number of artists.

It sang on Street Pastor Colloquy, one of the tracks on The Most Important Place in the World, the second joint project involving Bill Wells and former Arab Strap singer Aidan Moffat.

The choir can also be heard on a track by the Glasgow band, Errors (on their album, Lease of Life), and it made a guest appearance on Meilyr Jones’s album, 2013. “I loved what I heard and they seemed like a really nice and varied group of people, with a really interesting and vital attitude to music,”Jones said a few years ago. “They were doing things as varied as Home Alone and Purcell, which very much chimed with my way of working. They exceeded all my expectations in terms of their feeling as a group, musicality and warmth.”

The Glad Community Choir has put a lot of hard work into its festival appearance tomorrow. And it deserves thanks merely for putting an interesting slant on some the greatest songs written by Paul Simon. The man himself would undoubtedly approve of what it has done with them.

** Websites: https://www.gladcommunitychoir.com; https://dounetherabbithole.co.uk