C.J.: Well I am just excited because in the studio with us this morning Susan Cowsill is joining us. Good Morning!
C.J.: Thanks so much for getting up early today.
Susan: It was my pleasure. It was easy with the beautiful lake out in front of me.
C.J.: Ohhh, where're you stayin'?
Susan: Up the road a piece.
C.J.: Good. Got in late last night I heard.
Susan: Just a little bit.
C.J.: Yeah, first time to the north shore?
Susan: Yes, maam. I've been up this way before. I played in Duluth I think in 1969 or something. I actually remember coming into the city going, "Wait, I've been here before," but it's quite built up inheritidly. But I don't recall coming up this far. It's gorgeous. We're so excited. We got marshmellows last night.
C.J.: You had marshmellows last night?
Susan: No, we got 'em for tonight.
C.J.: Ohhh on the beach.
Susan: Yes, this is great.
C.J.: Well Susan Cowsill, I think that everybody has heard of The Cowsills, so I'm just going to que up this song in the back ground here (The Rain, The Park, and Other Things)
Susan: Oh that song
C.J.: Oh that song. I promise not to dwell on the past too long but just to bring folks up to speed. 60's. We're talking 60's here right?
Susan: Yes, '67
C.J.: And you must have been just a babe.
Susan: I was. I like to say I was 3 but that's not true. I was -
C.J.: It's almost true.
Susan: It's almost true. Actually it was pretty close, I was seven years old when I joined the band.
C.J.: Ah, so I was going to ask you that. Seven years old. So are you on this song?
Susan: No, I joined about a month after this got released.
C.J.: Oh darn it.
Susan: No, but I didn't have to do any of the work, I just showed up on Ed Sullivan one night. So, it was OK with me. But I was on all the ones after this. This was recorded probably a year before. I was six at that point. I just think I was pushing it a little bit.
C.J.: Pretty much. Interferrs with your nap. Alright, The Cowsills, family band, inspiration for The Partridge Family.
C.J.: Yes, so how many siblings, how many family members were involved.
Susan: Involved, let's see there was Bill, Bob, Barry, John, Paul, me, Mom - so there was six kids and my mother. We are seven. One of my brothers was not musically inclined at the time, even thought I think he could have been, he had other - he was a server. He had a lot of other things he was up to and so it was just the boys, Mom, and me. So, yeah, we were a big family.
C.J.: No kidding, all brothers besides you.
Susan: Yes, and all older. And that can go either way.
C.J.: Yeah it can.
Susan: It can be really great thing.
C.J.: How did that work for you?
Susan: You know, I was a human football. (laughs) You know, it's the ______ I must have been so ________ them _____ I was in the wrong house. __________________ But it was awesome.
C.J.: At any point, since you family is all musical, with the exception of that one brother, did you ever say, "I'm not going there." Or were you always .....
Susan: Oh on, I actually begged and pleaded to get in. It looked like they were having so much fun and you know I knew that I had whatever the thing is we had.
C.J.: It's genetic. It must be.
Susan: It was totally genetic. We had no formal schooling in music. It's a God thing. I mean it seriously was and I literally did join the band one month after this record came out and my first show was Ed Sullivan and I hit the ground running. I was ready to go. We were in show bizzzzzz. And I honestly thought everybody did what we did 'cuz it was around me my whole life. My brothers were playing instruments from the time I could remember.
C.J.: We're talking with Susan Cowsill who is performing this evening at the Arrowhead Center for the Performing Arts. And how many band members did you bring with you?
Susan: We have - five of us. This is a little bit of a different band. I am currently finishing up a new record and it's slightly different musical motife from the last one. And we have some new people on board. Miss Mary Lasseigne is on bass. She is a wonderful bass guitarist out of New Orleans and she's been in a lot of great bands. She was in Cowboy Mouth which is a regionally popular band down South. She has her own band - the Kinky Tuscaderos - fabulous band. (giggles) I know right. You got to love a name like that. You got to go see that, no matter what. And then we have Sam and Jack Craft, The Craft Brothers. They also have a band called Glasgow. They're also out of New Orleans and they are some young guys. They're 22 and 24.
C.J.: Oh Wow!
Susan: and then my husband, Russ Broussard, is on drums and he's my co-writing partner and business man and drummer forever. I was in a band with Russ called The Continental Drifters for ..
C.J.: Yes we played a song earlier
Susan: Oh really what did you play?
C.J.: We played "Spring Day In Ohio"
Susan: Ahhh that's a fun story. So that's it and we didn't get a whole lot of rehearsal time in but we played night before last in Oshgosh and it was really great and Jack and Sam play fiddle, violin, cello, guitar, keyboards. They're all over the place.
C.J.: You got a wall of sound there.
Susan: yeah, it's really quite inspiring and great fun and worked out.
C.J.: And how did you happen to come here to Grand Marais? What brings you?
Susan: I don't know. I never know. It's kind of like ...
C.J.: The bus headed this direction
Susan: things just show up and I go. We you know what I mean. You don't really know where it comes from until you go by it. We actually have a very great booking agent, Chris Chrisner, and I'm not sure how it happen, but I'll tell you what. We always luck into this. And it's so amazing to do what we do and kind of make a living at it and end up in beautiful places like this.
C.J.: Well you're open to it obviously so it's...
C.J.: Susan Cowsill performing for us live here in the studio on North Shore Weekend on WTIP and grateful for having her get up early and coming in. I know what it's like, well I don't know personally what it's like
Susan: We were sitting outside until 2:30 AM going "Look at the moon" "Look at the stars"
C.J.: Very cool. Alright for that's from Lighthouse you said and is that this years??
Susan: Yes it is. God willing, in September
Susan: That's what I'm .. I'm just saying it.
C.J.: You're just putting it out there.
Susan: We've had .. Yes putting it out there.
C.J.: Alright well this is going to be a CD I know that you released one on just the internet
Susan: What was that?
C.J.: back in '98 or '97 or something like that wasn't it?
Susan: Oh was that with The Cowsills?
Susan: Yes Global
Susan: Yes, that was yeah
C.J.: Internet only which is kind of ... you guys had to be one of the first ones to do that.
Susan: Yeah and I'd like to say it was because we were just so brilliant, but it really was just because we couldn't get a record company to sign us. They would hear the music and say how great it was and then they'd find out it was The Cowsills and they'd chicken out.
Susan: That's a really great record, Global. In fact I still currently or again touring and playing with my brothers also in addition to having my solo career. We just got through with a week run, which is another wonderful night of music. My guys are great.
C.J.: OK so how many brothers, which brothers are you playing with when you are The Cowsills?
Susan: I have my brother Bob, my brother Paul. My brother John who used to be the drummer or is the drummer for The Cowsills, but he's actually in The Beach Boys right now and I think are paying him better (giggles) so he kinda can't join us yet cuz he's got an insurance plan with them and stuff.
C.J.: Ah yes
Susan: So we unfortunately lost a couple of our guys a few years back. My brother Barry who was our bass player, he also lived in New Orleans and he didn't make it out of the city during Katrina.
C.J.: I'm sorry.
Susan: Yeah, and then my brother Bill, who kinda started the whole deal with The Cowsills, he actually passed away ironically or syncanisity as it were on the day of my brother Barry's memorial.
C.J.: Oh wow!
Susan: It was kooky. But I think Cowsills they go in pairs. I mean they, we can't not one of us be with the other one. I think it was just an assist. My oldest brother had been ill and his work here was done and I think was just, you know, hitching a ride or picking him up and taking him. I don't know which. It's all good.
C.J.: Yeah it's all good. It's a good way to look at it. Alright so you've been a writer for how long? I mean you've been doing your own songs?
Susan: I actually didn't start writing until much later in my life.
C.J.: Confidence thing?? Just too busy??
Susan: No, no definately not too busy. I mean I was busy but not with anything real. I mean I left The Cowsills I think when I was 12, was my first retirement. And I had kinda left home at that time and moved in with one of my brothers. Kind of had an unusual little life after that. I went on to get a singles deal on Warner's Brothers when I was 16.
Susan: I put out a couple of shamefully directionless music, but it's all I knew how to do and school wasn't an option 'cuz I'd never really been to begin with so going there when the band was done seemed kind of silly. You kind of need to know how to divide, add and subtract before you hit the 9th grade or you stick out. So I kind of baled on the school thing. I think the reason , I didn't play an instrument either other than that forsaken tamborine. There were so many musicians and writers in my house and I was the youngest, you know, and I don't think it occurred to me that I should even presume that I could .. to do what they did. So I think somewhere around the time I was probably maybe 30, I picked up a guitar and I started writing songs.
C.J.: Wow, cuz you had things to say
Susan: And that's the other thing. Quite honestly, that's a good observation. You have to live it. I mean what was I going to sing about at 16. (singing "Ed Sullivan") you know, I mean, yeah.
C.J.: OK so I have a question for you. You played with one of the ex-Bangles, Vicki Peterson.
C.J.: when you were in LA and the group was called The Psycho Sisters, which I love. Tell me about that.
Susan: OK (giggles) I can only tell you certain things.
C.J.: Yeah, well screen a little bit
Susan: It just makes it more ... I'm building the mystique.
C.J.: There you go.
Susan: Vicki Peterson who actually in the long run is actually my sister-in-law now.
C.J.: Oh wow cool!
Susan: She married to my brother John - the Beach Boy guy. But Vicki and I have been best friends for 25 years. OK we met in LA when the Bangles were first getting started, back in shooo something 80 something. The Cowsills were playing around and Vicki and her sister Debbie, the drummer, Petterson, they had been Cowsill fans as children and when they saw we were playing around town and they were toying with this band thing. They were in high school. We all were - well I wasn't but I should have been and they would come to our shows and they were really cute and they just loved my brothers and somehow or another they came up with this concept that they were going to come to rehearsals to "learn" how to sing vocals, which is the biggest bunch of you know what. They'd just come there and stare at my brothers and I was just like "Wow" and I was living a very different life style at the time and I didn't, I just thought "Who are these chicks?" But a long story short, Vicki and I ended up becoming great pals. We actually joined The Continental Drifters together. We were both single and looking for guys so we just found about six of them and just went all the way. (giggles) ____________ These guys are cute and so we'll just be in this band. And The Psycho Sisters are our little bussman's holiday. It's a, you know, some music we were writing around the early '90s. We didn't ever really totally release anything. And we both got so busy doing all of our ... it's just another thing while we were shopping or watching Breakfast at Tiffany's, eating popcorn and drinking champagne for us. It was just like that, but we have vowed to each other that before either one of us shuffles off the ______ that we're going to actually make a Psycho Sisters record and put it out.
C.J.: Oh fabulous.
Susan: It is fun. It's just ... I don't even know what you call it.
C.J.: It's just fun. It's just fun.
Susan: And that's that story.
C.J.: Well Susan Cowsill would you play us another song?
Susan: Sure. I'm trying to think what that would be that would come out of this throat at this hour.
Song: New Orleans
C.J.: Thank you so much for coming in this morning.
Susan: Absolute pleasure
C.J.: Susan Cowsill joined us this morning. They rolled in late last night. It was very nice of her to come in this morning and give us a couple songs. So tonight you'll be at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts. 7:00
Susan: That's right and I think we're either doing one really long set or two - oh no we're selling cookies inbetween, that's right. There's a cookie sell going on inbetween the sets. That's important I have a feeling so come down and bring your dollars for cookies.
C.J.: There you go. Thank so much
Susan: Thanks so much
C.J.: Susan Cowsill. Cowsill Band at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts this very night. 7 p.m. Tickets are still available, I'm sure.