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Jen Chapin, daughter of Harry, to perform benefit concert for Antique Boat Museum


CLAYTON — Jen Chapin is a musician, activist and educator.

For at least one day, you can add antique-boat advocate.

Ms. Chapin will perform Saturday at the Antique Boat Museum’s Edward John Noble Historic Stone Building. The event, called “Story Songs,” is a “test run” to potentially add a new element to the museum’s summer calendar, said museum spokesman Michael J. Folsom.

The concert is presented by WPBS of Northern New York and Eastern Ontario and will benefit the museum.

“I bill this event as very much like the old ‘VH1 Storytellers’ episodes, which allow for an up-close and personal music experience and allows the artist to share their stories,” Mr. Folsom said.

And Ms. Chapin, like her father, folk-singing legend Harry Chapin — who appeared in the north country a handful of times in the 1970s and again in 1980 — has a lot of stories to tell.

Tales ranging from the demands of mothering small children to an indictment of our militaristic and security-obsessed culture can be found on Ms. Chapin’s latest album, “Reckoning.”

Ms. Chapin, whose music has been called “soulfully poetic” on National Public Radio, also is scheduled to perform Friday night at the Landmark Theatre, Syracuse, and on Sunday at North Creek in Warren County.

She said the concert at the boat museum was the brainchild of keyboardist, producer, songwriter and Wolfe Island resident Chris Brown, who will open for Ms. Chapin.

Mr. Brown is a friend of Michael Corrigan, the museum’s boatbuilder, who operates out of the Stone Building and works in front of the public as the summer season’s living exhibit.

Ms. Chapin has performed with Mr. Brown and she invited him to perform on “Reckoning.” She said she was overwhelmed by his talent.

“Now, it’s not an exaggeration to say that we’ll do whatever Chris tells us to do,” Ms. Chapin said in a phone interview last week from her home in Brooklyn. “He’s so community-minded, a fantastic musician and a fun, good person.”

Ms. Chapin funded “Reckoning” through the crowd-funding website PledgeMusic. It allowed her to hire Grammy-Award-winning mixer/engineer/producer Kevin Killen, who has worked on albums for top artists, including Peter Gabriel, Elvis Costello and U2. Mr. Killen produced “Reckoning.”

“I’ve admired Kevin’s work, mostly as a recording engineer and a mixing engineer over the years,” Ms. Chapin said. “He’s very unassuming, as opposed to some big shot who puts his ego all over the process. I knew it wasn’t going to be like that.”

Ms. Chapin draws from her experiences, including her thoughts as an activist and her feelings of being a mother, on “Reckoning,” which blends elements of folk, rock and jazz.

“It’s kind of a theme album of this balance — being a parent, where you are constantly being pulled out of yourself to meet an urgent demand of a small person, to an artist, where you sort of tap into yourself and your thoughts — to an activist, which is a little bit of a combination of both,” Ms. Chapin said.

She added, “So many people are trying to deal with trying to make family structures work and figuring out their own kind of model and either loving it, hating it or just dealing with it.”

Ms. Chapin is mother to 7-year-old Maceo and 3-year-old Van Crump. The children often hit the road with their parents. Since 1999, Ms. Chapin has been married to Stephan Crump, who plays bass in her band.

Her song “Go Away” on “Reckoning” is about the joys of taking small breaks in child-rearing. “Feed Your Baby” on the album is a portrait about a broken food system. The singer/songwriter is an advocate of world “food justice.”

Ms. Chapin has been on the board of directors of WhyHunger for 20 years. The organization was founded in 1975 as World Hunger Year by her father, Harry Chapin, and Billy Ayers, who is WhyHunger’s executive director. WhyHunger works with more than 8,000 community-based groups across the U.S. and the world to fight hunger and poverty.

“WhyHunger is about amplifying voices and innovative solutions that are taking shape in the grassroots community,” Ms. Chapin said. “It’s not about, ‘We have this horrible, depressing problem,’ but rather, ‘We know what to do, and tell people how to solve it.’”

She said there’s enough food in the world to feed its population “many times over.”

“It’s just a question of justice and sustainability,” Ms. Chapin said. “We’re trying to build a movement, because hunger is not an inherit part of the human condition.”

Ms. Chapin is a graduate of Brown University, Providence, R.I., and studied at Berklee College of Music, Boston. She leads workshops focusing on hunger for colleges, community organizations and church groups.

Through her activism, Ms. Chapin said she feels a connection to her father. She was 10 when Mr. Chapin died in a car accident on the Long Island Expressway.

“It’s very direct,” she said of the connection. “I’m very inspired by the way he saw the problem and the way he engaged with the problem. The music also has a lot of similarities. We’re not interested in spectacle or glamor, but storytelling and being authentic.”

The details
WHAT: “Story Songs,” featuring Jen Chapin, with opening act Chris Brown of Wolfe Island, Ontario. The concert is presented by WPBS and benefits the Antique Boat Museum.
WHEN/WHERE: 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the Stone Building on the Antique Boat Museum campus, 750 Mary St., Clayton.
COST: Tickets are $10 at the door. Cost includes one drink.
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