By Lynne Baranski
January 23, 1978 12:00 PM

What is Art Carney, Hollywood’s most golden oldie and a recovered alcoholic, doing in Malone’s West, a collegiate honky-tonk in Westville, Conn.? Catching son Paul’s own late show: good-time piano boogie that’s got the house packed, down jacket to down jacket. “I have to admit it’s a field that is a little foreign to me,” beams his 59-year-old pop. “The first time I saw him, he just knocked me out.”

Paul, 25, knows that a famous name “can help you, or it can kill you.” Aside from an original tune called Chrome Dome that may be a humorous hymn to a certain balding ex-Honeymooner, nothing in his high-volume set of rock’n’roll standards hints at his heritage. For a scion of a family (granddad and several uncles too) with drinking problems, working in a saloon is a bit of a wrench. “When people with beer and smoke on their breath are around,” says Paul, “you almost have to drink in self-defense.” He tries to limit himself to beer, and heeds Father (who’s been off the sauce for four years) on fielding drunks: “If you get down to their level, you’re lost.”

Young Carney’s mother, Jean, who was divorced from Art in 1965 and subsequently from her second husband, lives nearby, which has created a perfect Parent Trap setup. Art, now in the process of getting a divorce from his second wife, has been spotted squiring Mother to an occasional gig of their youngest child of three. Paul says of his parents, “I was encouraged in everything I did,” even to dropping out of high school as a junior. Paul started playing coffeehouses in New York and cut an LP at 18 that sold only 10,000 copies (“I’m glad it wasn’t a hit because I lacked experience and maturity”). Three years ago he married his teenage sweetheart and they relocated to Old Lyme, Conn. “In New York, club owners feel they’re doing you a favor,” Paul says, “but here I’m in demand.” He’s forming the Paul Carney Band, and will test one of the things he’s always admired about his father: “It must be tough to be a star and not be a swelled head.”