Arts & Entertainment

Saturday in Roxbury: Songs of Harry Chapin Performed by Those Who Do It Best

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Drummer Howard Fields
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ROXBURY, NJ – It’s not on par with getting “$20 for a $2.50 fare,” but Harry Chapin fans who act quickly can save five bucks on tickets to a Chapin tribute concert in Roxbury on Saturday.

Tickets for the Steve Chapin Band show are $30, but they go up to $35 on Wednesday. The 7:30 p.m. concert will be at the Investor’s Bank Theater/Roxbury Performing Arts Center (ROXPAC) in Succasunna and the easy way to get tickets is to buy them online from the Roxbury Arts Alliance.

The band is led by Harry’s youngest brother, an accomplished songwriter in his own right, and includes former Harry Chapin Band members “Big John” Wallace, on bass, and drummer Howard Fields. Chapin - a folk rock singer/songwriter most famous for the hit song "Cat’s in the Cradle" ­- died in a 1981 car accident.

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Fields said the ROXPAC will be a great place for the show due to its small size, something that works well with the personal nature of Chapin’s songs as well as the audience interaction and storytelling the band enjoys.

“This is the Steve Chapin Band,” said Fields. “It isn’t Harry Chapin. He’s no longer with us, but there’s a good handful of people that like to hear Harry’s songs played by the people who know how to play Harry best. We usually play 100- to 500-seat theaters, sometimes up to 1,000 … and we’re happy with that.”

Fields, 64, said he began drumming for Harry Chapin in 1974 and ended up touring with him all over the world. He said there are a surprising number of younger people coming to Steve Chapin Band shows, usually at the urging of parents or grandparents of Harry Chapin fans. “They passed our music onto their children and now they have grandchildren,” he said.

Age isn’t all that relevant anyway, when it comes to Harry Chapin songs, Fields figures. The stories Chapin put to music resonate with people of many age groups, he said. “I think its real emotional stuff,” said Fields. “Yes, it’s more relevant to people of certain temperaments, but those temperaments are probably the same as they were forty years ago. There are people who relate to Harry’s characters. He wrote a lot about people in impossible, pitiful situations and how they get out of them or, if they don’t, how they survive.”

Although often more mellow, Harry Chapin’s music has much in common with Bruce Springsteen’s, said Fields. “I think there is still a place for that sort of music,” he said.

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