Monday, January 17, 2011

The Second Generation All-Star Band, or, That Last Name Looks Familiar

Maybe I attend too many geezer nostalgia tours, but I've been seeing a lot of bands where the star brings one of their kids onstage. Which ones are cases of nepotism, and which are actually worth hearing? I decided to organize the results as an all-star team; please give me the credit if a promoter puts together a touring combo out of this.


Let's get this out of the way first: there are a lot of pop star kids who have gotten up on stage to sing, and even gotten record contracts, who are just not that great. There's Goffin-King daughter Louise Goffin, Buddy Guy's daughter Shawnna and Nona Gaye among others. Neneh Cherry may have sold more copies of Raw Like Sushi than all of her father's albums put together, but color me unimpressed; likewise, I can't bring myself to care about the Wilson sisters or any of the Wainwrights. Arlo Guthrie and Jakob Dylan were legitimate one-hit wonders, if nothing more.
I don't know if Ronald Bell's son Rachid will ever make a followup to his outstanding debut album, but he's probably the only candidate who could conceivably dethrone Jeff Buckley.


Los Van Van drummer Samuel Formell is the easy choice, stepping into the shoes of Cuban music legend Changüito and rapidly winning over the band's skeptical and demanding fan base. I've never heard much from Jason Bonham or Zack Starkey but you'd think they have to be in the mix somewhere. Honorable mention for Mother's Finest drummer Dion Murdock, one of the few to play in a band with both parents.


I know Eddie Van Halen (and Valerie Bertinelli, he mentioned gratuitously) spawn Wolfie is touring with his dad, but I have no idea what he sounds like. I'm sticking with James Jamerson Jr.


I think this has to be Elio Revé Jr. Not only did he take over his father's renowned charangón, his compositions, arrangements and piano put the group in the forefront of the late 2000s timba scene.


As I'm not inclined to pick Dweezil Zappa or Doyle Bramhall II, I'm sure not going to pick Trey Lewd, and I've never heard Teddy Thompson, I'll pick Wendy Melvoin, though her session pianist/arranger dad Mike isn't exactly the kind of front-line performer the competition is all about.


Got to go with trumpeter Mercer Ellington over tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, based on Ellington's strengths as composer as well as bandleader.


Dionne Warwick's pride and joy Damon Elliott is the standout.

M.V.P. (Most Valuable Progeny)

Who's the Barry Bonds of the group, the child of a star who becomes a bigger star? Obviously Norah Jones is a much bigger commercial force than father Ravi Shankar, but it's my list and I can snub her if I want to. For "Moon Mist" alone, Mercer Ellington is one of the most accomplished, but he certainly isn't going to make anyone forget the other Ellington. On the other end of the scale, Jeff Buckley made a huge impression during his short career, but it would be a stretch to consider Tim Buckley a star. So I hate to say it, but the winner in the category is probably Bocephus. Please tell me I'm forgetting somebody.


Jan Bletz said...

Martha Wainwright (the daughther of Loudon Wainwright and Kate - or was it Anna - McGarricle). Her brother Rufus. I think Teddy Thompson has a sister who sings too. What about Sean Lennon/Julian Lennon. And Van Morrison's daughter has been known to sing duets with her father, much like June Carter (of Carter Family fame) and Johnny Cash.

Alex Remington said...

Doesn't Sheila Escovedo count?

David B. Wilson said...

Sheila E. counts: nice catch. A bigger deal commercially than Samuel Formell but I give him the edge as a player.

Brian McWatters said...

Eagle-Eye Cherry (Neneh Cherry's half brother) has a platinum album.

Jeremy Dylan said...

Zak Starkey is an extremely formidable drummer - he manages to occupy the same musical space as Keith Moon while playing with The Who, yet remain his own man.

Also on the drum front, Tennessee Thomas (daughter of Pete, from Elvis Costello and the Attractions) is a remarkable Motown-meets-Watts style player.