SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

May 8, 2014

Lovin' Spoonful Hall of Famer brings show to Beverly

By Gail McCarthy
Staff Writer

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In a long musical career, John Sebastian has taken the stage at Woodstock, toured with a hit rock band, and penned award-winning songs for record albums, theater and television. Tonight, he brings his musical wealth to a show at Larcom Theatre in Beverly.

Sebastian was an original member of The Lovin’ Spoonful and is a 2000 inductee to the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the band, which he left in 1968 to pursue a solo career. His hits include “Do You Believe In Magic?,” “Daydream” and “Summer In The City,” as well as the theme song “Welcome Back” for the hit TV show “Welcome Back, Kotter.”

Sebastian, 70, said concerts are always an energizing experience for him.

“This is a lot of fun for me. Each show is always different, and the audience is very much a part of the show,” he said. “There is the freedom that comes with doing a show — one guy and one guitar. And I have a great sound engineer who did 30 years at Radio City Music Hall.”

Tonight’s performance will feature a variety of his work over the decades, and he will share with the audience the roots of some of the material, as well as answer questions about The Lovin’ Spoonful, Woodstock and his career.

“He has a charismatic personality,” said Harry Pardee, one of the producers of the show, who was among the estimated half-million music lovers who flocked to the Woodstock, N.Y., festival in 1969.

Sebastian was an unscheduled performer who was hanging out backstage with a friend.

“But the rains on Saturday began to complicate the electrical connections, and the promoters standing on stage thought maybe they can find someone who can hold them with one acoustic guitar,” Sebastian recalled. “And I looked from side to side, and they were both looking at me.”

He took the stage and will forever be linked to that legendary festival. But that was only one small part of a life of music.

Born in Greenwich Village, Sebastian was raised in a creative home, where his father was a chromatic harmonica virtuoso, and his mother was a writer for radio — mostly humor — so little surprise a singer-songwriter might emanate from such a family. His younger brother, as well as his oldest son, are also musicians.

Sebastian said his father found more acceptance in Europe, which meant he and his son spent five summers in Italy, where, among other travels, he became a citizen of the world outside of Manhattan.

“I did benefit from all this like mad,” he said.

His musical career continues to flourish and be recognized. In 2012, he was honored with the 2012 Silver Eagle Patriot Award by the U.S. Armed Forces in Oceanside, Calif. In 2008, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706, or at gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com.

If you go

What: John Sebastian concert

When: Thursday at 8 p.m. Cocktail reception at 7 p.m.

Where: Larcom Theatre, 13 Wallis St., Beverly

Tickets: $29 to $44, at gimmeLIVE.TV or 978-525-9093.