Susan Cowsill’s 39-year trip to an opening spot with Rodriguez

Susan Cowsill

Susan Cowsill

Former Cowsills member to share bill with legendary singer-songwriter at Barclays Center on Oct. 9

I’m sitting here wondering why I don’t have any photos of Susan Cowsill.

Even before starting this blog, I often took photos at shows to create lasting memorabilia. I’m not sure if I’ve even seen her since 2009, when this blog started. I know I saw her at least once on her own in New York, after catching her perform numerous times with her old band, the late, lamented Continental Drifters.

But nevermind that.

She and her lusty, raggedly-pushed-to-the-edge vocal style will be back in New York in October, when she opens a Barclays Center show for Rodriguez (aka Detroit-based 1970s singer-songwriter Sixto Díaz Rodríguez), who rediscovered the spotlight via the award-winning 2012 documentary Searching for Sugar Man.

Way back in 1974, 16-year-old Susan was a fledgling solo artist just two years past the collapse of her family band, The Cowsills. She had a record deal and decided to cover a cool song titled “I Think of You.” She probably didn’t know who wrote the song, and never could have imagined the impact it would have on her life four decades later.

But here’s what happened, in an abridged account from Susan’s blog. (Click here for the full entry.):

“Back in 1974 I had a record deal with Warner Brothers records. (The Cowsills last tour was in 1972 so I was in retirement for two years the first time at that point.) I was sixteen and was trying to stay out of school, so I told my mom, let me quit and I will get a record deal and get back to work. She did, I did and the rest, as they say, is history. I had a singles (45 RPM) deal and my producers would bring me songs to pick from to record. I recorded six sides, my buddy Jackson Browne brought me a Warren Zevon demo of Mohamads Radio which was one of the songs I recorded. (later recorded by Ms. [Linda] Ronstadt) and the other was less noteworthy. One of the songs they brought me was a song called ‘I Think Of You.” I really liked it, I sang it (cheesy production) and along with the other releases, nothing happened with any of it to say the least.”

Then last year, Vicki Peterson, her sister-in-law and partner in the Psycho Sisters, made the connection between that song and the mysterious Rodriguez, whose story was making the movie house rounds.

Fast-forward to May 7, 2013. Rodriguez was appearing at Tipitina’s in New Orleans, and Susan’s husband, Russ Brousard, talked her into going. She never expected to get a chance to talk to Rodriguez, let alone give him her number. But that’s exactly what happened. They met, they talked, and Rodriguez raved about her long-ago version of his song.

“Leave me your number and we’ll see what we can make happen,” Rodriguez told her.

But Susan didn’t seem to expect anything more to happen, as she spelled out in her blog post about the encounter:

“So, okay…I’m not saying I’m gonna sit by the phone or anything like that….I’m saying I’m gonna carry it with me everywhere I go and pray for the name Rodriguez to pop up on my screen!   And if the Universe thinks it’s a good idea for me and Sixto to sing together, then I’m in.”

Well, the phone rang and it was Rodriguez calling. And that’s how Susan Cowsill wound up getting booked to open for Rodriguez.

If you go

Rodriguez, with Susan Cowsill, 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 9. Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn. $49.50-79.50. For more information and tickets, tap here.

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One response to “Susan Cowsill’s 39-year trip to an opening spot with Rodriguez

  1. Pingback: 3 shows you shouldn’t miss: Jessy Carolina, Matthew E. White, The Cowsills 50th Anniversary | Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone?

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