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Susan Cowsill: From Variety Shows to HBO's Treme
By Karen Dalton-Beninato
June 12, 2011
Huffington Post

We're road tripping, so instead of a Treme review here's my e-interview with Susan Cowsill. She's back from a European tour just in time to see her appearance in tonight's episode. As as a member of The Cowsills, Susan performed in television specials with Johnny Cash, Mike Douglas, Ed Sullivan, Buddy Ebsen, Dean Martin, Dick Clark, Hugh Downs, Davy Jones, Eddy Arnold, Hugh Hefner, Barbie Benton and Don Ho. So television is almost as much her living room as the stage.

Susan has always been supportive of young New Orleans musicians, including the ones in her band, so it's a natural to have her appear in Treme as herself encouraging the character Annie Tee to step forward with her own songs.

Here's the interview. Unless we decide to drive around in circles for awhile, I'll be back on live television duty next week.

Q: How does it feel, coming home from Europe to see your appearance in Treme?

Susan: It's awesome! Europe was great. We had a wonderful tour, went to three castles; got ovations every night; ate a lot of cheese and bread; drank a lot of excellent German beers -- especially hefeweizen; but it is good to be home. Now to figure out where we want to watch the episode that we've been looking forward to since we filmed it.

Filming at Carrolton Station, what's it like to show HBO viewers your musical home away from home?

Susan: It is an honor. We have loved playing the Station for 18 years. It truly is a home base for us and has been since I first moved to town in 1993.

It's a great alternate living room. What did Harley and Annie add to the Susan Cowsill Band as real life musicians?

Susan: Let's just say that at the end of it, we asked them to join! I've known Steve for many years. He's a great talent and a great guy. Having him sing on "Just Believe It" was a hoot. Lucia (Micarelli) is precious, very talented, and it was cool watching her and Sam play off of one another on fiddle.

It sounded amazing in person, I can't wait to see the episode. Steve's Emmy-nominated "This City Won't Drown" closed last season. How have your musical lives intersected?

Susan: I met Steve years ago when I was in the Continental Drifters. We had talked about possibly doing a record together but our lives took different paths. I got to sing with him on a compilation of Nancy Griffith's "Other Voices, Other Rooms II." That was really cool. There were a lot of musical greats in the room that day -- Steve being one of them.

Speaking of all star jams, your band has a family vibe with everyone getting a chance to play. What are some of their outside projects?

Susan: Mary Lasseigne has a record out titled "Mary Jane and the Brain Surgeons." We always love to play a couple songs from that record. Please go look for it. Sam and Jack Craft have a band called Glasgow which also has Alexis Marceaux in it, who also has a solo album out titled Orange Moon. We definitely conduct ourselves as a family band. We call them the kids, and they call us when they're hungry.

Sweet. Your real life Cowsill family played Covered in VInyl (covering Crosby Stills Nash and Young's "Deja Vu" and Credence Clearwater Revival's "Credence Gold" after the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Which song was the most fun / challenging to learn? (I can't pick a favorite.)

Susan: Yeah, that was one heck of a night! A proud one for me as I think I have a very talented family. Let's see..."Carry On" was tough in rehearsals, but I think it came out great on stage. Our Covered in Vinyls are loose as you know. We don't need all the vocals to be spot on perfect. And my boys being Cowsills and Vicki being a Bangle might have had a little trouble getting used to that part. But eventually, everyone got into the spirit of the night. 23 musicians in all took part of our double CIV night--everyone of them a trooper and a wonderful talent. Wish we could name them all here. Can we...? (*Yes. Pictured from left John Cowsill, Vicki Peterson Cowsill, Susan Cowsill, Russ Broussard and Bob Cowsill. Full roster listed below)


I like that in this episode you tell Annie, "When you're ready" about performing her new song. You've always been encouraging of emerging New Orleans talent. What would you tell a performer working up the confidence to play?

Susan: Confidence really is 80% of the deal. If you have the innate gift to begin with, so I guess what I would tell someone is to play, sing, and write as much as possible in front of as many people as possible. We all think that they're judging us while we're up there, and what they're really doing is loving us. They've come to share music, feed their own souls of a food that they can't cook on their own. It's a win-win situation. Once you realize they're not waiting for you to fall, that's when it really becomes a joy. So keep at Annie! And call me if you need any help. :)

Good idea. If anyone is interested in buying your music, and they ought to, where should they go?

Susan: They can go to susancowsill.com to buy directly from us--where we stuff the envelopes and mail 'em out, or Louisiana Music Factory, itunes, Amazon, etc. If they want to buy downloads, they can also do that from us at our Bandcamp site.

* CIV Roster: Russ Broussard
Susan Cowsill
Bob Cowsill
John Cowsill
Vicki Peterson Cowsill
Alexis Marceaux
Sam Craft
Jack Craft
Washboard Chaz
Jimmy Robinson
Derrick Anderson
Mary Lasseigne
Janson Lohmeyer
Johnny Sansone
Alexandra Scott
Pete Winkler
Caleb Guillotte
Jesse Moore
Photo by Jeff Beninato

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