Jen Chapin has seen the world go by as she’s performed

Jen Chapin doesn’t mind a quick run up to Syracuse for an Oct. 24 show in the Steeple Coffee House series, she says during a phone conversation. To make it work best, the singer and songwriter explains, she quickly worked her contacts to book a sister show in nearby Rochester.

Jen Chapin plays a Syracuse show in 2013. (Photo by Tom Honan)

Jen Chapin plays a Syracuse show in 2013. (Photo by Tom Honan)

“It’s nice to have two, three, four shows in a row,” says the daughter of the late Harry Chapin. “If seven dates came together at one time, which requires heavy lifting to work out, I’d do that, too.

“In November I’ll do every Sunday at a neighborhood place that’s a musical destination,” Chapin says. “It’s a 5 p.m. start, so it has a lazy, casual feel to it. I can mix it up.”

I wrote about Jen Chapin’s connection with keeping her father’s causes alive, including the charity World Hunger Years, for my weekly Mark It Up community column for Syracuse Public Media site WAER. You can read it by clicking the link below.

Yes, she’s been through a lot in her 15-year career, Chapin admits.

“The change is well-documented across society,” she says. “I’m in an interesting position, straddling the digital age. When I started, I’d go to the post office with cards and stick stamps on them and send them to people’s addresses to tell them about my shows. Then email came about, and people went crazy to get those addresses on my list. Now people just go online and find you and your dates.

“It started out with a lot of heavy lifting and investment to record a CD,” she says. “My first recording was on a damn cassette. Now it’s not a CD anymore. It’s digital only or on vinyl again. And yes, that’s had repercussions financially. Selling an album is really hit or miss.

“And the culture of listening to live music is interesting, too. There’s a lot of competition for people’s attention and time. And the new scenario of crowd-funding is out there,” she continues. “There’s no middle gate-keeper anymore. You communicate directly to the fans. I’ve had people send me Facebook messages asking me about parking at a show.”

Onward, she goes.

“My career started at the end of the 1990s. I’d have numerous lunches with labels in downtown Manhattan. Now that’s a waste of time,” Chapin says.

Instead, she’s wiping the ice cream off her 6-year-old son’s face, dropping him off, and talking to a reporter while driving in Brooklyn. “It’s extremely busy,” she says.

Yes, that makes her happy, in the here and now.

Here’s a Facebook clip of an interview Syracuse veteran musician, producer and educator Todd Hobin conducted with Chapin her last time through Syracuse.

Who are your favorite parent-offspring musicians, and why? What’s your favorite Harry Chapin song, and why? What’s the latest cause that’s captured your attention, and why?

23 thoughts on “Jen Chapin has seen the world go by as she’s performed

  1. Who are your favorite parent-offspring musicians?
    Bob / Jakob Dylan
    What’s your favorite Harry Chapin song, and why?
    “They Call Her Easy”
    Because I relate to it. The end of the song has a lot to say
    What’s the latest cause that’s captured your attention, and why?
    Something local, because my town needs more community involvement


    • Bob and Jakob! Pretty sweet combo there, Rose. Don’t you love how the kid played off his famous father’s reputation as a recluse by naming his band The Wallflowers? Bob is coming out of his shell with a commercial for IBM’s Watson these days. The computer sings to him. Classic in the making.

      Harry had a lot to say with that one, yes, Rose.

      And I think all town’s need more community involvement. Indeed. ❤


  2. I appreciate her passion and compassion. This made me pull up Youtube and listen to some HC songs. It’s been too long. Surprises me how many of his songs bring back some childhood feelings, he certainly was part of that soundtrack for me.


  3. My VERY favorite Harry Chapin song is the LIVE 11 minute version of 30,000 LBs of Bananas. Maybe living in the vicinity of Scranton helps. BUT! I love this Harry Chapin Greatest Stories LIVE CD and the very first song is so sweet! called Dreams Go By! PLus I love I Wanna Learn a Love Song.


  4. This reminded me a lot of myself, Mark. Most of my music career was done by hand, mailing out postcards, handing out fliers…the digital age makes all of that easier now, although maybe a bit is lost in the personal communication. Parent-offspring bands? Does the CheeseBergens count?


  5. Interesting performer Mark, I just listened to a song of hers – it is a type of music I haven’t heard before – definitely different. Her dad’s causes – and hers – are very important ones. I’m impressed that she hasn’t let her fame go to her head – making herself available for appearances when requested.

    Interesting post Mark – well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My favorite Harry Chapin songs are “Taxi” and “Cat’s Cradle”. I think my most favorite musician offspring is Natalie Cole. As far as latest causes, I am always about the prevention of child abuse and I honestly don’t know what the most current causes are because I never look at the news. I am like an ostrich, the less bad news I hear about, the happier I am.


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