For 15 years, musician Susan Cowsill's solo work has included "Covered in Vinyl," a series of classic album performances. In New Orleans, where she has lived since 1993, Cowsill has performed more than 100 albums for "Covered in Vinyl."
Cowsill is the youngest member of the harmony-loving 1960s family band The Cowsills, and along with her solo career, she continues that band with her brothers Paul and Bob.
On Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Dyson House Listening Room, Cowsill will play her first “Covered in Vinyl” show in Baton Rouge, performing Carly Simon’s “No Secrets,” featuring “You’re So Vain.”
Cowsill was 13 when Simon released 1972’s “No Secrets.”
“It’s imprinted on my heart, along with Joni Mitchell’s ‘Court and Spark’ and Karla Bonoff’s first record,” Cowsill said from her home in New Orleans. “Every day after school, four of us girls sat and listened to Cat Stevens and Carly Simon, dreaming that we were these people, or we would date them or become them.”
Besides loving “No Secrets,” Cowsill has a practical reason for making it a “Covered in Vinyl” selection. She’s known the album’s lyrics and melodies for decades, so there’s no need for her to learn another entire album of songs for this “Covered in Vinyl” performance.
“Because I have beautiful musicians playing with me, I can just sit there and sing,” she said.
Cowsill will be performing with her drummer husband, Russ Broussard (who also performs with The Cowsills); keyboardist Mike Lemmler (George Porter Jr.); bassist René Coman (The Iguanas); and guitarist Bert Cotton (Bonerama).
Cowsill based “Covered in Vinyl” on Nashville, Tennessee’s the Long Players, a band that began performing complete albums in 2004. Explaining the concept’s appeal to her, she said that a “Covered in Vinyl” performance of an Aerosmith album will, for instance, draw Aerosmith fans. Once the Aerosmith fans are in the venue, they’ll hear a half-hour of Cowsill’s original songs before the evening’s main event.
“So that playing in town isn’t so redundant,” she said. “We get new audiences and, hopefully, pick up new fans. That was the idea for ‘Covered in Vinyl.’ It took off and it’s never not been popular.”
Because “Covered in Vinyl” has always been a one-night-only event in New Orleans, Cowsill is thrilled to be playing “No Secrets” in New Orleans at Chickie Wah Wah and Baton Rouge at the Dyson House.
“At the end of the night,” she recalled of earlier “Covered in Vinyl” performances, “we were all usually going, ‘I wish we could do that one more time.’ Fifteen years later, we’re finally doing it.”
Cowsill’s solo shows and recordings feature original songs co-written with Broussard. A late-blooming songwriter, her forthcoming third album follows 2005’s “Just Believe It” and 2010’s “Lighthouse.” A genre-spanning artist who sings in husky alto tones, Cowsill ranges stylistically from pop-rock to acoustic singer-songwriter sincerity and folk- and country-oriented songs.
Cowsill put production of her new solo album on hold, she said, “because The Cowsills got so busy and profitable.” A few weeks ago, The Cowsills finished recording its upcoming album “The Rhythm of the World” at Dockside Studios in Maurice.
The band in the 1960s had a string of Top 10 hits: “The Rain, the Park & Other Things,” “Indian Lake” and “Hair.” Cowsill believes the siblings’ new album is worthy of their classic discography.
“I can’t believe we wrote it,” she said. “The three of us would finish writing a song in 20 minutes. It was like, ‘What just happened?’ And they’re really great songs.”
Cowsill anticipates “The Rhythm of the World” will be released sometime in 2020. It will be a double-album package featuring a companion set of Cowsills hits sung a cappella. The Cowsills also recorded the opening song for the just-released multi-artist Mr. Rogers tribute album, “Thank You, Mister Rogers: Music & Memories.”
With the exception of two years as a waitress in Los Angeles and a tedious year of photo-copying scripts for a film distributor, Cowsill has always made her living making music.
“It’s joyous work,” she said. “And I’m grateful that I get to do it as work, because I couldn’t do anything else.”
7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7
Dyson House Listening Room at Zeeland Street Market, 2031 Perkins Road