The Cowsills shoulda-coulda had their own TV series, but the producers wanted Shirley Jones to replace their real mother, so goes one version of the story. Regardless which of the many versions you like best, the Partridge Family got the show, and the Cowsills hit the road singing songs for the next several decades.
Wednesday night the family played at the Empire State Plaza Concert Series. They didn’t blow any minds, but they sure were good fun.
Try listening to the theme song of “Love American Style” and not laughing. Then they followed with a part-mocking part-serious cover of the Partridge Family hit “I Think I Love You.” Again, try to keep a straight face. Not to mention both songs stay in your head for at least the night (I’m thinking they’ll be with me for a few more days).
They played their other big hit from ’67, “The Rain, The Park, and other Things,” an appropriate tune for the night. Band member Susan was too young to record that song, and Bob explained that their mother had to be in the band for that because they were all so young.
While family members have come and gone over the years several times over, the group Wednesday night consisted of originals Susan, Paul and Bob. But wait, it doesn’t stop there: Susan’s husband played drums (brother John left to play drums for the Beach Boys, which the members jokingly derided him for Wednesday night); Paul’s son was on guitar; and Bob’s son was on keyboards. Brother Barry drowned in the Katrina Hurricane (found two months later in a river), and David died a week later.
They opened with the Mamas and Papas “Monday Monday.” A group of women with flowers in their hair caught the band’s attention, and brought up to the stage photos of the group from 1969.
Most songs were sung by Bob, like “We Can Fly,” “Most of All,” and “Deliver Me,” which Bob started after excitedly pointing out a vivid rainbow beyond the Hudson. These songs sounded like theme songs to TV shows.
The three originals sang Crosby Stills and Nash’s “Helplessly Hoping.” Their three-part harmony was wonderful, particularly as the sun sank and turned the clouds blue and pink.
The rain came earlier, just as Soul Session finished their set with Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” It was a small enough crowd for everyone to find shelter under structures at the Plaza.
Singer-songwriter Kyle Vincent was forced to start his short set during the rain, with very little audience.
The poor guy played only four short songs. The rain stopped and the crowd returned for the end of his first tune, his most successful song “Wake Me Up (when the World’s Worth Waking Up For).” This song was used in a Diane Keaton movie “The Other Sister.” It would have been nice to hear a little more from this West Coast character who tried to ham it up between and during his thoughtful love songs.