Saturday, February 04, 2006

It's More Soap Opera than Family Tree

It all started at Appel Farms last year. Rufus Wainwright and his father Loudon Wainwright III were among the performers. During a father-son duet, Loudon brought out his daughter Lucy Roche. We were confused- Roche? Our intrigue only grew as we flipped through the program for the day's concert* and saw a note for a similar music festival in Rhode Island or some such place. Among the scheduled performers in some such place was Sloan Wainwright. How did she fit into all of this? Our intrigue only grew during Rufus' Halloween concert at the 9:30 Club when he mentioned his mother's upcoming Christmas album- The McGarrigle Christmas Hour.

With these pieces in hand, we were convinced nothing short of a family tree could clear our confusion. Here goes: Loudon III (the son of Martha and Loudon Jr. who worked for Life magazine, as they say, back in the day) is the older brother of Sloan- who was, apparently, Indie before Indie went cool- so that clears that up. Loudon somehow got together with a Quebecois by the name of Kate McGarrigle and that explains Rufus and his little sister Martha. But that marriage didn't last. Loudon later met up with Suzzy Roche (I'm told her name rhymes with Fuzzy Roach). Which accounts for everybody on our radar- and far more simply than had been anticipated. Sloan really threw us- her picture looks much younger than she is- but we were sure Rufus was Loudon's eldest (where that surety came from, I could not tell you).

Now, it all makes sense. Except for the degree of cross-involvement. Their careers are better described by a flow chart. Basically, everybody sings with everybody else. Loudon has shared the mike with Kate, her sister Anna (whose daugther Lily Lanken has performed with her mom and her cousin Martha), and Suzzy (i.e. all four on the same stage). Martha used to back up Rufus. And all the parents have trotted their kids out for songs over the years.

*The quick and dirty run down: Mavis Staples was lively, Madeleine Peyroux was smooth and sensual, Aimmee Mann was an absolute powerhouse, and Rufus's solo gig was remarkable.


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