The show biz family tradition was given a sparky contemporary boost lasttweek (28) with The Cowsills' New York debut at Town Hall, The rock 'n' rolling family spans two generations. It also bridges a broad cross-section of high-flying rock music from the idiom's inception in the '50s to the combo's own big current disks on MGM, "The Rain, The Park and Other Things," "We Can Fly" and a selfmonickered LP.
Core of the self-contained unit is a guitar-bass-drums and organ amplified quartet of Bill Cowsill (at 20, the eldest child), Bob (18), Barry (13) and John (11). Woven through the performance are vocal contributions by the kids' Mom, Barbara Cowsill, a conservative, well-groomed matron.
Apple of the family's eye is little Susan, an eight-year- old dash of sugar & spice who harmonizes, captures the house in spotlight segments, and even plays electric bass when Barry sashays along the footlights serenading the adult audience membership with "Red Roses For a Blue Lady." :
Bill and Bob are able leaders, on guitar and organ, singing, and providing a visible nucleus. John, a dynamic, highly talented little drummer who seems destined to follow in the name tradition of such skin geaters as Gene Krupa and Rinjo Starr. Other members of the family are non-performers.
The combo essays a large chunk of British rock of the '60s—e.g. Beatles, Rolling Stones, Herman's Hermits, et al. — and even reaches back to days of yore with Elvis Presley material that was hot before Susan was even born.
The Cowsills could be the act that sways still-reluctant American parents over to the rock 'n' roll camp. In presenting click teen material that's infectious enough to bridge the generation gap without succumbing to "squareness," they are a broad entertainment value.
Heavy rain curtailed crowds at matinee and evening performances, which were scaled up to $5.