The cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you comin' home, Dad?
-- Harry Chapin
Saturday night, on a stage named for her father, Jen Chapin joins uncles, cousins, in-laws and others related by association in a Chapin family concert -- a celebration of a man, his music and passion for helping others.
The concert falls 30 years to the day after her father died in a Long Island Expressway traffic accident, en route from his Huntington Bay home to an Eisenhower Park benefit concert for Long Island Cares, which he founded. Fittingly, another concert celebrating Chapin's life will be held Monday at Eisenhower Park, where the outdoor stage was renamed the Chapin Lakeside Theater.
Some of Harry Chapin's best-known songs remain staples of archival pop radio: "Cat's in the Cradle" and "Taxi."
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"I was drawn more to the social activist culture in my family," says Jen Chapin, who serves on the board of WHY (World Hunger Year), the anti-hunger and poverty offshoot of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger that Harry Chapin badgered Congress and President Jimmy Carter into creating.
As a musician, Jen Chapin, 10 when her father died, said she was "a late bloomer."
"I think gender helped steer critics from direct comparisons," said the namesake of the Jen Chapin Trio, which includes guitarist Jamie Fox and bassist Steve Crump, Chapin's husband and father of their sons, Maceo, 6, and Van, 2.
FAMILY ACT Helping Jen celebrate her father are Harry's brothers Tom and Steve. Tom Chapin carries on a folk tradition of recording and touring, while Steve is a living link to Harry's songbook. "Steve was a crucial part of my dad's band -- an intimate connection with his brother's music," Jen Chapin said.
A sister trio, Abigail and Lily Chapin and Jessica Craven, will chime in with three-part harmony.
Besides social causes, Harry and Sandy Chapin, Jen's mother, were also vital supporters of local arts, including the Long Island Philharmonic and the Huntington Arts Council, sponsor of the Summer Arts Festival of which tomorrow's concert is part of a 46-year tradition. Before the concert, a Harry Chapin plaque will be unveiled.
MEADOW MEMORIAL Long Island singer-songwriter Stuart Markus leads Monday's celebration in East Meadow. "It's hard to believe it's been three decades," Markus said. The "Just Wild About Harry" concert features 18 of his songs performed by Markus' Gathering Time Trio and a lineup of local performers, including Russ Seeger, Martha Trachtenberg and children's singer Patricia Shih, plus Grand Folk Railroad.
Though each concert is essentially free (a $1 donation is suggested in Huntington), people are asked to bring nonperishable food to be distributed through Long Island Cares to either event.
WHAT Harry Chapin celebration concerts
WHEN | WHERE 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Heckscher Park, Huntington; 7:30 p.m. Monday, Eisenhower Park, East Meadow
INFO Huntington: $1 suggested donation plus nonperishable food, 631-271-8423, huntingtonarts. org; East Meadow: food donation, 516-572-0200