By MICHAEL FORTUNA, DAILY SUN The Villages Daily Sun
THE VILLAGES — Watching the Cowsills on stage, the band’s upbeat behavior is infectious.
“We’re not really working at all,” Susan Cowsill said. “We really have a fun time. We have too much fun. Sometimes we forget about the things we should be doing.”
The three original siblings of the ’60s family pop band — Susan, Bob and Paul Cowsill — kept that sunny, happy feeling going during two performances Saturday night at Savannah Center.
“Me and Bob are moving here, ‘cause it’s too cool,” Paul told the audience.
The Cowsills feature Susan on vocals and acoustic guitar, Paul on vocals, Bob on vocals and electric guitar, Ryan Cowsill on keyboards, Brendon Cowsill on electric guitar, Mary Lasseigne on bass, and Russ Broussard on drums.
The second generation of Cowsills makes up a good chunk of the band — Brendon is Paul’s son and Ryan is Bob’s son.
“It’s a wonderful thing,” Susan said. “It’s awesome.”
Along with such Cowsills favorites as “The Rain, The Park, and Other Things,” “Love, American Style,” and “Indian Lake,” the band threw in a few songs from that era, including “Puff the Magic Dragon,” “The Boxer,” “Monday, Monday,” and “Be My Baby.”
Paying tribute to their late siblings, the Cowsills played “You’re Not the Same Girl,” written by Billy Cowsill, and “River of Love,” written by Barry Cowsill.
Susan took a solo turn on the guitar to sing the emotional “Nanny’s Song,” a song she wrote in honor of her husband’s grandmother.
They also sang their own rendition of “I Think I Love You” from “The Partridge Family.”
“We call it our fifth hit,” Paul told the audience.
The Cowsills closed the evening with what they called their last hit, “Hair,” from the eponymous musical.
Audrey Lancaster, who lives in the Village of Polo Ridge, hadn’t seen the Cowsills in person before. She had a few albums and magazine clippings for the Cowsills to sign afterward.
“I can’t believe I met them,” Lancaster said. “Just to be able to talk to them (was great). (The show was) excellent. Fantastic. Brought back so many good memories. (Their music) is so happy, uplifting. The harmonies are great.”
David and Sandra Howell had found out about the show a few days ago, so they drove from their home in Clermont to catch the Cowsills.
“I said, ‘We’ll be there,’” David said.
He also brought several albums for the members to autograph.
“(The show) was awesome,” David said. “(If they return to Florida) I’ll be back. They really sounded great.”
“Amazing harmony,” Sandra said.
Hearing “The Rain, The Park, and Other Things” in person was a treat, they said.
“I was a teenager (when I first heard it),” David said. “It was a happy, feel-good song.”
When Susan Cowsill joined the ranks of the family band, she was 8 years old.
“I begged and pleaded to be in the band,” she said. “(The band) is all I ever knew. I was always into music. I didn’t know how to do anything else. Music serves my soul. It makes other people happy, which makes me happy.”
Seeing “The Partridge Family” on TV gave Susan conflicting feelings.
“I was in love with David Cassidy, but that made me feel weird,” Susan said. “He was supposed to be my brother. That was surreal.”
One highlight that sticks in Susan’s mind is when the Cowsills played on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
“That was pretty cool,” Susan said. “We had our own special in 1967 on NBC. We interrupted ‘The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.’”
Her favorite song is “Gray, Sunny Day” she said, “because Bob likes it, and I want to be just like Bob.”