Friday, July 22, 2016


Hot, well, lukewarm on the heels of the splendid Thompson piece below, I was about to pen a sorry disclaimer on it being sum sum summertime and that most scribes were maybe elsewhere, before throwing together a few tired tropes about sparring siblings, Don and Phil Everly, Ray and Dave Davies, Noel and Liam Gallagher. But there is clearly only one correct follow-on to J.David's piece, namely to discuss the dynasty above, an extended family "band", convoluted, extended and with a fair side-order of dysfunction and debacle. So where do I start? You could try the family tree, for which I must credit interesting name tending site The Name Station, but, let's face it, it isn't easy to decipher. Where is Pete Frame when you need him?

OK, so we have in the one corner estimable folk troubadour, of the confessional songs and prehensile tongue, who has built a career in humorous and/or poignant self-deprecation, bringing in tales of everyday sadness to make us smile. In the other the youngest McGarrigle sibling, Kate, half of Kate and Anna McGarrigle, doyennes of an anglo french-canadian meeting place of traditionally influenced music. They marry, have children. They break up. Loudon sings songs about his son, Rufus, and his daughter, Martha, as children. Both become, like him, professional musicians. I guess if you had a dad you didn't see so much, to see yourself sung about on stage and TV may be not so great. So here's Martha singing about her dad:

And here's Rufus singing about his dad:

(I think it is probably allowable to comment on the fact that, as chance would have it, Rufus turned out, um, not to be quite the "tit man" his father had jested about.)

Meanwhile, Loudon forms a new relationship, another musician, would you credit it, Suzzy Roche, of quirky NY sister band, the Roches. He has another daughter, Lucy (Wainwright-Roche) and guess what career she chooses, possibly provoked, I wonder, by his song about her, Screaming Issue, annoyingly not on youtube, but the title gives a flavour of its content..... Of course, she's a singer. Her parents separate.

So how is this a family band? They clearly all hate each others guts. Well, no, and this is a number of happy endings. In itself that is at least fortuitous, as you could have the McGarrigles, Loudon, Rufus, Martha and Lucy, all out on their own tours. Inevitably their promoters could find them all in the same country, city, festival or even show. In recent years there seems to have been a warming of relations between the 2 elder children and their father. They have appeared on stage with each other and publicly come to terms with the past. This was perhaps and ironically accelerated by the illness and later death of Kate McGarrigle. Lucy has appeared with her father, opened for her half brother and currently tours, as the Wainwright Sisters, with half-sister Martha. (Check out the lyric of the featured song, potentially referring to their fathers further relationship and their further half sister, Lexie, career as yet unchosen or public.) Here's Loudon's take on his family dynamic, well worth a read.

Eagle eyed will have spotted another famous name in the family tree at the top, namely Cohen. Yes, that Leonard Cohen, whose daughter Lorca is the birth-mother of Rufus' daughter, Viva. I wonder what career path she might take?

Finally I cannot resist adding the interplay between the Thompson and the Wainwright families, as the links come steady and strong, unsurprisingly as the two paterfamilias have regularly shared a stage (often billed as Loud & Rich.) Rufus has worked frequently with Thompson's son Teddy, such as here. But somehow I think the most intriguing link was in the man who took on Kate and her children, post Wainwright, being one Pat Donaldson, frequent bassist for Thompson in his Richard and Linda years. I guess they couldn't help but all be chums.

How do you get a flavour this bloodline in one easy step? You could do a lot worse than with this, which features all of these bar Loudon. For his presence you need this, maybe for the first track alone, which features Loudon, Rufus, Martha, Lucy, Lexie, Suzzy and his current wife, Ritamarie Kelly, with Rufus and Martha each appearing on other songs. Even better still, here's the track in question, good video too:

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