This year’s Happy Together Tour stars stalwarts The Buckinghams, The Association, The Grass Roots and Mark Lindsay in addition to the hosts The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie. But it was newcomers The Cowsills who practically stole the show Sunday night at the Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, N.Y.
Even with just a five-song set (“The Rain, the Park & Other Things," “We Can Fly,” “Love American Style,” “Indian Lake” and “Hair”), Bob, Paul and Susan Cowsill were as vocally exquisite as they were in April at their full show at New York’s Cutting Room, prompting Turtle Howard Kaylan to predict a major career comeback for the 1960s pop vocal group, who are also very funny, all things considered.
After all, as Bob noted, what were once nine in the Cowsills family is now tragically down to four (John Cowsill is drummer for the Beaach Boys), this prompting Paul to feign a crying jag. He also noted facetiously how cool the Cowsills were prior to performing “We Can Fly”—since both Al Hirt and Lawrence Welk covered it. They also sang “Love American Style,” “Indian Lake” and their big hit “Hair,” and noted how honored they were to finally be on the Happy Together Tour—having first tried to join it five years ago.
“They said we had to be 65!” said Paul. “Well, Bob turned 65 this year!” And in becoming part of Happy Together, Susan Cowsill is the first female Happy Together Tour-ist since Spanky McFarlane back in the mid-'80s.
The rest of the show filled out a perfect cross-section of ‘60s pop and rock starting with The Buckinghams, featuring original members Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna on "Don’t You Care," "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," "Hey Baby," "Susan" (for which Susan Cowsill emerged to jokingly claim credit), and "Kind of a Drag"; The Grass Roots ("I'd Wait a Million Years," "Sooner or Later," "Let's Live for Today" and "Midnight Confessions"); The Association, with originals Jim Yester and Jules Alexander on landmark hits “Windy,” “Never My Love,” “Everything That Touches You,” “Cherish” and “Along Comes Mary”; and Paul Revere and the Raiders’ vocalist Mark Lindsay, solid as ever on the classics “Where the Action Is," "Just Like Me," "Hungry," "Arizona," Good Thing," "Indian Reservation," and "Kicks.”
Every year the Turtles come out as something nuttier, in this case, Volman (Flo) as the snowman in Frozen, lipsynching Idina Menzel’s “Let It Go,” then assuaging his perturbed partner Kaylan (Eddie) by giving him a Snow Queen wig and kicking the set into high gear with “She'd Rather Be With Me,” “You Baby” and “It Ain’t Me Babe,” pausing to encourage the SRO hall to take pictures of the pair, at their advanced age, perhaps for the last time—though Volman assured everyone that they do hope to live another year in order to return with Happy Together Tour 2016.
Post-Turtles Flo & Eddie fans surely recognized Frank Zappa’s “Peaches En Regalia” intro to The Turtles' hit “Elenore,” Flo & Eddie having famously sung with Zappa’s Mothers of Invention after The Turtles disbanded. After ending their closing segment, of course, with “Happ Together,” Volman and Kaylan, as has become their Happy Together Tour tradition, brought back the other acts to sing a snippet of their most famous song, ending again with “Happy Together.”
Also this year—for the fourth year in a row—Volman brought along 10 of his students from Nashville’s Belmont Unviersity, where he serves as a professor (“Professor Flo”) in the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. For the first leg of the tour they get a hands-on taste of tour management, stage management, audio engineering, tour accounting and merchandise sales, along with continued learning each day during the processes of load-in, setup, tear-down and load-out. It was their last night, and during the “Happy Together” grand finale, Professor Flo introduced the kids and they sang and danced along with the rest.
And speaking of merch, The Association’s Yester offered another lesson in noting how “demeaning” it is for artists to have to announce that they have CDs for sale in the lobby. “But it’s much more demeaning,” he added beseechingly, “to have to carry it all back to the bus!”