They’re still talking about The Cowsills’ first performance at the Cutting Room last April, those who were there, and anyone who saw one of summer’s Happy Together Tour shows, in which The Cowsills were the rookie act and damn near stole the show from even The Turtles, is still talking about that, too.
Of course, the Happy Together Tour shows relegated The Cowsills—now centered on vocalists Susan, John and Paul Cowsill–to 15 minutes or so, enough time to do their big hits and make room for the other five acts on the bill. There were no such time constraints at the Cutting Room on Oct. 10, so they started with The Beatles “Eight Days a Week,” in honor both of John Lennon, whose birthday it was the day before, and Lennon gal pal May Pang, who was in the audience, and had attended both the first Cowsills Cutting Room show and a Happy Together Tour stop.
They joked that since they only had a few hits—though quite a few more than the three biggies “The Rain, The Park & Other Things,” “Indian Lake” and “Hair”—they had to do covers. Those they did, though, were whoppers: Susan’s version of “Be My Baby” is sweeter and more measured than The Ronettes’, and no less wondrous. A fab folk song segment included “Puff the Magic Dragon,” with Bob singing lead (he also played acoustic guitar) and Susan (who sometimes played acoustic guitar) and Paul gesturing the lyrics; on “If I Had a Hammer” Paul rang a tiny bell whenever the lyric called for it—a charming annoyance.
The Cowsills also covered Crosby Stills & Nash’s “Helplessly Hoping,” prompting another celebrity attendee, producer Russ Titelman, to express awe afterwards. And they did a great job on “I Think I Love You,” the 1970 hit for The Partridge Family—the TV sitcom family singing group featuring David Cassidy that was based on The Cowsills.
The three siblings took solo turns as well, with Susan, somehow still as adorable as she was some 50 years ago, standing out with a stunning version of “River of Love,” a song written by late brother Barry and sung in tribute to him. Barry Cowsill, along with mother Barbara and brothers Bill and Richard, is deceased, Barry having perished tragically during Hurricane Katrina.
“Stick around long enough, that starts to happen,” said Paul, acknowledging the losses. But the survivors’ remarkable resilience is further manifested by their band: Most of these Cowsills’ backing musicians (brother John Cowsill is drummer for the Beach Boys) are relatives, with Paul’s son Brendon Cowsill on guitar and vocals, Bob’s son Ryan Cowsill on keyboards and Susan’s husband Russ Broussard on drums.
There were plenty of stories shared throughout the show, and after, Susan, Paul and Bob stayed to sign merchandise, including copies of the acclaimed Family Band: The Cowsills Story documentary, which recounts the group’s big ups and equally big downs. As the Happy Together Tour band was in the house, The Cowsills kept a running shtick with them that was both highly entertaining for all and newsworthy: The Cowsills will return for the 2016 Happy Together Tour.
And even though they’ll only have 15 minutes or so again next year, they have enough exceptional material for a show eight times that long, as evidenced once again at the Cutting Room.
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