For this year's Chapin Family Concert, the first since the death of the family patriarch jazz drummer Jim Chapin at age 89 in July, it seems only fitting that the third generation of Chapin family musicians is coming into its own.
Of course, it's Jim Chapin's sons - Harry, Tom and Steve - who are best known, and this year's show will be, as always, a tribute to Harry, who was killed in a Long Island Expressway car crash in 1981 on his way to perform at Eisenhower Park.
However, Saturday's show, at the Theatre at Westbury, will have some new twists. Singer-songwriter Jen Chapin, daughter of Harry, is working on a new album and is in the middle of a tour, the first since the birth of her son, Van, who's now 6 months old. Her cousins, the Chapin Sisters - Lily Chapin, Abigail Chapin and stepsister Jessica Craven - have wrapped up work on a new album, and Lily and Abigail Chapin (daughters of Tom) are in the middle of touring with Zooey Deschanel's group, She & Him, as part of the band and as the opening act.
"It's so much fun onstage and a really good opportunity to perform," Jen Chapin says. "But there's also the whole backstage thing, where it's a family reunion, and we all get to hang out. It's really deepened the relationships for everybody."
How do you decide what to perform?
JEN: It's the confluence of music and text. A lot of his [her father's] iconic songs are better served by a male perspective. The music sort of makes the decision for me. I'll do "Tangled Up Puppet," though that wasn't written about me, it was about my older sister. I'll probably do "I Wonder What Would Happen to This World," because different verses have different resonances. Every six months, it has a different meaning for me, including the verse that is on Dad's grave in Huntington.
LILY: We'll do one or two of our own things, but it's really all about the family music. It's such a fun time being able to jam together - my sisters and I started singing through these concerts. If we played all the songs we knew, the concert would last for three days, so it's really a question of editing. But just by habit, each one of us has some songs that we love and we stick to. If we all kept trading back and forth, it would get a bit chaotic.
Will you bring up Harry's charities as well?
JEN: Well, Long Island Cares will be there, so we'll certainly talk about them. It says something that the organizations Harry founded are alive and well. Dad would be, on one hand, proud that they're still around and still helping people. On the other hand, they shouldn't have to exist. . . . Working people should be able to afford food. It's a basic social justice issue. We have to ask why and find lasting, sustainable solutions, not just plug a sinking ship. . . . It's awareness that we're raising.
Will you pay tribute to your grandfather?
LILY: Yeah. My grandfather really threw himself into the life of the musician. . . . The last time I saw him, he still had his drum pad on his lap, while he was eating breakfast. He had such a sense of joy in what he was doing for a living. Living to do something that you love and sharing it with other people created this contagious joy. We all caught the bug.
WHO The Chapin Family Concert
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday, the Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury
INFO $39.50-$49.50; 516-334-0800, livenation.com