Some Famous Musicians’ Children I Got The Chance To See Live
I have realized I have seen a lot of famous musicians’ children over the years, as many of them are bravely pursuing a music career despite the odds being against them,… when your father is McCartney or Dylan, how can you make a name for yourself?
I got to see Sean Lennon, several times, and this is what I wrote about his band The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger:
The songs exploded in a sort of ‘I-am-The-Walrus’ DNA, bathing in a Syd Barrett-inspired full instrumentation, with epic guitars – Charlotte was wearing a Zappa t-shirt – and avalanches of sweet vocal harmonies between the two. It was psychedelic but tainted by a certain time, sometimes playful, sometimes a bit strange, but with more Willy-Wonka-sugar-coated weirdness than drug-induced-coma oddity. Songs such as ‘Poor Paul Getty’ or ‘Devil You Know’ were opening fields of strawberries dipped down into a Pink-Floyd-esque era, letting earworms surface out of their psychedelic circus.
More recently, I saw Sean play with Les Clayton as The Claypool Lennon Delirium at Desert Daze:
Primus’ Les Clayton and Sean Lennon entertained us with their experimental pop, going from strange tension build-ups to Beatles-que vocal harmonies, and intriguing chord progressions bursting like a circus. Claypool’s bassline attacks seemed to launch a song like something coming from Rage Against the Machine’s catalog, colliding into Lennon’s blissed-out pop for an explosive result. The energy was mostly coming from Claypool, but the result was sometimes Pink Floyd meeting angular.
I also got the chance to see Dhani Harrison, George Harrison’s son, play an intimate show at the Echo a few years ago:
Harrison’s music shook up the place multiple times with the band’s savant and elaborated mix of electronica and real instruments, he often looked much more preoccupied with a certain ambiance and atmosphere than a real melody, and he reached a powerful electro bluesy distortion during the last one, ‘Yomp’, which buzzed into many layers of psychedelia.
And to finish with the Beatles’ kids, James McCartney, Paul’s son, visited the Hotel Café a few years ago:
The guitar was shining and very loud, the strumming was bold and vibrant during the catchy and affirmative ‘Too Hard’, while James’ vocals went from an upbeat bright tone to a powerful howl, especially during ‘Waterfall’, a song which was inspired by his mother’s memories. Sure you could hear pieces of his father here and there in the melody, as ‘Too Hard’ sounded like a sort of ‘Band on the Run’ with layered guitars and rock brilliance, at least it could have been the kind of song you’d want to run free with. The closeness with his father’s soft spot for sweet melodies was more obvious with ‘Ring a Ring o-’Roses’, a song received by a collective ‘awww’ from the crowd, this one was very sweet, just like the last one they played, the very heartfelt-sounding ‘Peace and Stillness’.
It’s slightly different for Jakob Dylan, Bob Dylan’s son, as he didn’t perform his own material when I saw him. He had this successful band, The Wallflowers, but he was also recently involved in the documentary ‘Echo In the Canyon’, which explores the explosive Laurel Canyon music scene in the mid-‘60s. The movie features Jakob and a myriad of stars from the late Tom Petty to Brian Wilson or Jackson Browne, as well as never-before-heard personal details behind the bands, their songs, while investigating how the music continues to inspire today’s musicians. I got the chance to see him at Amoeba, fronting the Echo in the Canyon band featuring Jade Castrinos (ex-Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros), Matt Tecu on drums, Fernando Perdomo and Geoff Pearlman on guitars, Dan Rothchild on bass, and Jordan Summers on keyboard. Together, they covered songs by The Mamas & The Papas, Love, Steven Stills and of course, Tom Petty with visible joy.
I saw Harper Simon, Paul Simon’s son, several times at the Satellite, where he had a residency several years ago. He has released two albums, but doesn’t seem to pursue his music anymore? This was my impression at the time:
‘Nothing Gets Through’ had real punkish energy coated with some electronics, and ‘Dixie Cleopatra’, a real rocker à la Elvis Costello, repeated this same feeling with a few solos and a giant hook, closing the too-short set with a bang. In between, I also noticed the VU bass-tempered ‘Division Street’, a song oscillating between its dark rocking rhythm and a pop melody. Harper’s vocals were on the ghostly side, buried in the loud music, maybe a little more audible on ‘Bonnie Brae’, with its Strokes-like bouncy guitars and spiraling chord progression. Just like his vocals, Harper didn’t act like the star of the night at all, he called one of his friends, songwriter Jenny O., to harmonize on the poppy- breezy ‘99’, which had this infectious foot-tapping effervescence of a 70s Fleetwood Mac classic rock.
Amber Young, Neil’s daughter, is one of these rock star progeny who didn’t exactly choose her father’s path since she is an artist making quilts. She was showing her art at Shepard Fairey’s Subliminal Studios a few years ago, under her father’s kind supervision:
Young integrates these pieces of fabric into her quilts, visually restructuring her memory of the landscape as montages on linen. Her choice of linen and upholstery fabric as the base material, as well as her practice of quilting, directly reference household items and American traditions. However, Young takes these references to the home a step further by providing a visual display of how images in memories fade and fragment with each passing moment yet still maintain their strong connection to what was once known, present, and familiar. The photographic strips of fabric represent compositions of her actual childhood residence that has become dissipated or distorted with time. Despite their piecemeal existence, the sense of place and familiarity derived from the original subject matter still feels tangible and present, like a lingering memory or nostalgia that mentally shrouds one in a protective blanket of comfort.
I also saw Paris Jackson, Michael Jackson’s daughter, not too long ago. She played a very intimate show at the Hotel Cafe as The Soundflowers, a duo she has formed with her boyfriend Gabriel Glenn. I was told to not review the show (‘we don’t want any press’, someone of her entourage told me), but I would say the set was very stripped down, whereas the young couple looked very much in love…
The funny thing is that Lulu Simon, another progeny of Paul Simon, has just announced a show at the Satellite on November 21st. Since her mother (Edie Brickell) is also a musician, Lulu is another one who is attempting to make a name for herself, and I will definitively try to attend the show of, yes, another famous musicians’ child!