The Upper Room
Saturday, June 24, 10:30 p.m.
After Katrina, Susan Cowsill found Indianapolis a welcoming shelter. She took refuge here during the post-hurricane chaos of gathering her family and forming a plan for the future. She’s happy to be visiting this time under better circumstances.
Cowsill is the youngest member of the iconic pop family band The Cowsills. The Cowsills enjoyed great success in the late ’60s and early ’70s. She joined the band formed by her older brothers when she was 7 years old and was soon singing in front of thousands of fans, appearing on television shows and passing out a Grammy Award to Glen Campbell.
The Cowsills were offered a television series, but the producers had already cast the mother, so the family declined. The show? The Partridge Family
The Cowsills disbanded in the early ’70s. The boys had grown up, and the constant touring had taken a toll on the family finances. There were a couple of reincarnations of The Cowsills over the years, and they have reunited for a few concerts. All of the family continued to perform in various bands and solo projects.
Susan Cowsill joined up with Vicki Peterson of The Bangles in 1991 and they played as the Psycho Sisters. Cowsill and Peterson became permanent members of the Continental Drifters the following year. The band eventually moved from Los Angeles to New Orleans, and Cowsill spent the next 10 years with the band, touring extensively, recording several critically acclaimed albums, winning awards and starting a family. Cowsill and her husband, Continental Drifters drummer Russ Broussard, left the band in 2002.
And so began her solo career. Her songs are introspective and full of history. The beautiful “Crescent City Snow” was recorded this year, just one of the songs she says are lined up, patiently waiting to be finished. The song is full of hope for New Orleans, recalling good memories and fun times. It also includes a favorite joke: “I can tell you where you got those shoes.” I guess the Broad Ripple bridge kids didn’t make that up. Her record, Just Believe It
, was released in Europe in 2004 and in the U.S. Oct. 11 of last year, after the hurricane.
Which brought her to Indianapolis.
She and her husband were able to reconnect with their daughter in Nashville, Tenn., and they made Indianapolis the next stop on “the ol’ evacuation tour.” Their friend Tim Cohn took them in and held an impromptu concert to generate money for them until they could access their bank accounts. It was an amazing and emotional show. Peter Hosapple joined Cowsill and Broussard for several songs. It was the first time they had performed together since the breakup of the Drifters.
Cowsill and Broussard are now back in “beautiful, soulful, limpin’-along-like-a-dog-that-got-hit-by-a-car New Orleans. But we’re putting a REALLY big cast on it.” They are leaving their beloved town for a two-month tour of the Midwest and East Coast.
The Susan Cowsill touring band is made up of her husband along with Indianapolis favorites Tad Armstrong and Aaron Stroup. Armstrong and Stroup most recently played together in the band Middletown. Armstrong is squeezing the tour in between gigs with his current band, The Benders. Stroup relocated to Austin, Texas, last year and has spent the last eight months working in a New Orleans relief kitchen. Cowsill says that she, Armstrong and Stroup have been holding “psychic rehearsals.” Indianapolis is the third stop on their tour, so they should be in perfect form by then.