When the Chapins get together at Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington for a family concert Saturday night, expect it to be a harmonious affair that will also pay tribute to their most famous relative, the late singer-songwriter Harry Chapin.
“The only person missing is Harry,” says his brother, singer-guitarist Tom Chapin. “He would have loved these concerts. Well, he is with us in spirit.”
Along with five other family members and their bands, Tom Chapin will perform a few of his sibling’s timeless tunes, including “Cat’s in the Cradle,” “Sunday Morning Sunshine” and “Circle.”
Having started out as a documentary filmmaker, Harry Chapin, who lived in Huntington, considered himself a story songwriter, recalls Tom Chapin.
“That’s really what’s incredibly powerful about his body of work: They’re songs about real people,” says Tom Chapin, who lives in Rockland County.
Tom Chapin will also do some songs from his new album, “Threads,” and dig into his repertoire including “Pass the Music On,” about the continuity and vitality of music through the generations.
“I think of myself as an entertainer first,” he muses. “And the songs are entertaining with ideas.”
IN HER FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS
Also on the bill will be Harry’s daughter, Jen Chapin, who grew up in Huntington and was 10 when her dad died. She’ll perform some of her own music, which she describes as urban folk soul: Melodies with rhythmic tension and lyrics replete with social commentary.
She also plans to perform her dad’s “Tangled Up Puppet,” about the trials of parenting a teenage girl, and “I Wonder What Would Happen to This World,” from which these lyrics are engraved on her father’s tombstone:
“Oh if a man tried
To take his time on earth
And prove before he died
What one man’s life could be worth
I wonder what would happen to this world”
Several songs will be performed as ensemble pieces where all the musicians, which also include The Harry Chapin Band (Steve Chapin, Big John Wallace, Howard Fields, Clark Wallace and Jonathan Chapin) and The Chapin Sisters (Lily and Abigail), play together.
“On the one hand, we’ve been doing this many times in many places over many years,” Jen Chapin notes. “But, on the other hand, things often happen spontaneously where we decide to try something different.”
A Chapin family concert is almost like a festival, Tom Chapin adds.
“I feel just blessed to be on the stage with my daughters and my niece, who are just spectacular musicians, and wonderful singers and writers. In all humility, it’s a pretty wonderful evening.”
A LEGACY LIVES ON
Harry Chapin, who died in a car accident in 1981, is immortalized, not only through his music, but by his work addressing poverty and hunger on the island. (Audience members are encouraged to bring a nonperishable food donation to the show.)
“The great thing is that Long Island Cares and WhyHunger, both organizations that Harry founded, are still going strong and doing wonderful work,” says Tom Chapin. “And that’s really the sad part, too — that it’s really needed.”
To this day, Jen Chapin is indelibly inspired by her dad’s activism.
“That’s the part of his legacy that most energizes me and where I feel the connection to him 36 years later most vividly.”
WHAT Chapin Family Concert
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday, Landmark on Main Street, 232 Main St., Port Washington
TICKETS $50-$90, plus a suggested donation of a nonperishable food item to be donated to Long Island Cares; 516-767-6444,
Stories With a Melody
Jez Lowe is a man of many talents. Not only does the English singer write his own songs, but he also performs them on guitar, cittern, mandolin and harmonica. In his music, he also sheds light on issues of social and economic conditions in contemporary British society and his native northeastern England.
WHEN | WHERE 5 p.m. Sunday, Gillespie Room of the Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook
INFO $20 Friday, $25 after; 631-632-1093, sundaystreet.org