Over five decades the contributions of singer-songwriter John Sebastian have become a permanent part of America’s musical fabric. His group The Lovin' Spoonful played a major role in the mid-'60s rock revolution and on Thursday, July 25, Sebastian comes to Boothbay Harbor to perform at the historic Opera House in a 7:30 p.m. concert.
"We were grateful to the Beatles for reminding us of our rock & roll roots," Sebastian explains, "but we wanted to cut out the English middlemen, so to speak, and get down to making this new music as an 'American' band." This the Lovin' Spoonful did like nobody before or since, putting their first 7 singles into the Top 10. This was unprecedented, and utterly unthinkable at the height of Beatlemania. At first they'd taken older material from blues, country, folk and jug band sources - what we now term "roots music" - and made it sound modern. Then, in a series of original songs composed and sung by John Sebastian, they did the reverse, creating thoroughly modern music that sounded like it contained the entire history of American music.
A generation of Americans may know the band’s music by heart including "Do You Believe In Magic," "You Didn't Have To Be So Nice," "Daydream," "Younger Girl," "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind," "Summer In The City," and dozens of other hits. These songs did more than simply answer the British invasion, they carried the musical tradition into the future.
Sebastian grew up in New York, the son of a noted classical harmonica player in his father, and his mother a writer of radio programs. Regular visitors to the family's Greenwich Village home included Burl Ives and Woody Guthrie, so it was no surprise when young John became a fan of, and then a participant in, the folk music revival that swept the nation in the late '50s. Making his bow as a member of the Even Dozen Jug Band, his skills on guitar, harmonica and autoharp soon made him a sought-after accompanist on the Village folk scene, working with Fred Neil, Tim Hardin, Mississippi John Hurt, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan and many others.
From early folk acts, to appearing on the stage 50 summers ago at Woodstock, to writing and performing the theme song for Welcome Back Kotter, Sebastian was everywhere in the 60s and 70s, and he’s continued touring ever since, pleasing old fans and winning new ones. In 2000 he was inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.
Advance discounted tickets are $30 and available by calling the box office 633-5159 or visiting 86 Townsend Avenue, Tuesday-Friday from 9-3. Regular tickets are $35 and available online at boothbayoperahouse.com, and at the door. The upstairs bar opens at 6:30 p.m. for ticket holders, with doors for seating in the performance hall opening at 7 p.m.