The good news (part 1): Nearly 1,000 people trekked to Avalon Tuesday night for the five-hour “Lost 45s Against AIDS” benefit/concert featuring the Captain and Tenille, Mark Lindsay, the Cowsills and other hitmakers from a bygone era. The event raised between $30,000 and $40,000, according to AIDS Action Committee chairman Larry Kessler. “This is my 10th year doing this,” said Kessler, admitting to a degree of benefit burnout. “Sometimes these get stale, too familiar, but this one is refreshing. We’re looking to beef things up and change.”
The good new (part 1): The Cowsills, generally regarded (if at all) as a bubblegum blip from the past. They rocked. The former pride and joy of Newport, R.I., and the fresh-faced family band TV’s Partridge Family was modeled after, can cut it on today’s terms. The siblings – long relocated to Los Angeles and dedicated for the past couple of years to establishing themselves as a new-music band – displayed superb three – and four-part harmonies, played for new hook-laden, power pop songs, and even made old hits like “Indian Lake” and “Hair” seem fun, in part because of their insouciance. Singer Susan Cowsill, a child back in the late ‘60s and in her early 30s now, said backstage she dreaded have to sing the silly “…and spaghetti” kicker in “Hair,” but allowed, “I can do that one more time for AIDS … and a beer later.” She pulled it off. The song was a hoot. She got to shoot a beer.
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But, as the saying goes, one man’s kitsch is another man’s life-blood, and guitarist Peter Holsapple, for one, resisted the easy temptation to label it all kitsch. Holsapple – 37-year-old co-founder of respected pop band the dBs, a former touring member of R.E.M., and currently with the Cowsills (among other bands) – said, “It’s all in the eye of the beholder. Getting to see Mark Lindsay is a lot more interesting than seeing Warrant or Slaughter. That stuff is so transient. We’re lucky we had a few songs on the radio that have had some staying power. To me, there’s nothing campy about it; I’d have paid the 50 bucks to get in if I lived here. This beats the heck out of playing with R.E.M. This has more integrity. This is where my heart is.”
But the Cowsills were the high point of this bell curve-like show. Lindsay, former lead singer of Paul Revere & the Raiders, follower the Cowsills with a mixed bag of a set. . . .