JOHN SEBASTIAN – THE LARCOM THEATRE – REVIEW BY A.J. WACHTEL
JOHN SEBASTIAN (Formerly in Lovin’ Spoonful)
THE LARCOM THEATRE
LIVE – 5/8/14
By A.J. Wachtel
One does not usually and at first associate Country Blues with jug band rock and roll icon John Sebastian; but the relationship between these genres and specifically with his own music was clearly pointed out in his two set narrative performance. Playing acoustic and electric guitar alone on stage, John led the audience through a verbal history of his career accompanied by stories, jokes and song after song of his fast, pickless, syncopated fingerpicking style. Covering American Country Blues influences like Mississippi John Hurt with his versions of “Satisfied” and “Lovin’ Spoonful” and “I’m So Lonesome Everyday”, he threw in a Hughie Piano Smith (‘Rocking Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu’) r&b song, talked about the vocal influences of Sleepy John Estes and even showed the packed house, with chord by chord progressions as audial illustrations, how “Heat Wave” by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas was the direct influence of his song “”Do You Believe In Magic”.
The club itself, is my favorite North Shore venue to see a show. It’s just 40 minutes out of Boston and is located in an old movie theater with ornate woodwork all over the cozy, almost 500 seat capacity, two tiered room. And the great sound system, already very clear and crisp, is a continuous ‘work in progress’ head honchos Peter and Vicki Van Ness, tell me although it sounds close to perfect to me already.
Spoonful hits “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”, “A Younger Girl Keeps Rolling Cross My Mind” and “Daydream” were great too. At some points, the audience would be singing along with him and he would grin and become silent in the middle of the song and just let the packed house continue as he played. The sound of an audience singing loudly with passion to his music was very moving to say the least. And very cool. And he introduced “Welcome Back” with “This song sucks if you don’t sing along”; and everyone did.
The influence of the Blues is in all music genres today; some of it is just more obvious than others.