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Making magic: John Sebastian to perform at BIG ARTS
March 8, 2017

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John Sebastian, one of the founding members of '60s folk rock band, the Lovin' Spoonful will make his first-ever appearance on Sanibel Friday, March 10, at BIG ARTS' Schein Hall at 8 p.m.

Sebastian said growing up in Greenwich Village during the '50s and '60s played a large part in shaping who he is today.

"It had a tremendous effect. My father was a classical musician and my mother was a writer, mostly for radio. The house was teeming with interesting people my whole childhood. Burl Ives and Woody Guthrie were the notable ones," Sebastian said. "It was the perfect place to be if you were going to be 16 in 1960, you pretty much couldn't have picked a better place."

Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky formed the Lovin' Spoonful in 1964. Two met through Cass Elliot, who was one of the singers of The Mamas & the Papas.

"Cass invited me over to her house one day and Zal was there. We all sat around and watched the Beatle's first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. We were playing through most of it. They were like rockabillies. From that day, our musical relationship started with quite a bit of intensity," Sebastian said.

In addition to the Beatles, Sebastian recalls during the band's early years, Buck Owens and The Buckaroos were huge influencers for both him and Yanovsky.

"In most cases, both Zal and I had a lot of interest and affection for blues in general. It was a wonderful situation," he said.

Throughout the years, the band wrote hits such as "Summer in the City," "Nashville Cats," Daydream" and "Do You Believe in Magic."

"Do You Believe in Magic" came about after noticing a young girl dancing by herself in the back of a club.

"We had been working at a club that was kind of a folk singer's place. The audience was somewhat mixed between old guys drinking Italian coffee and playing chess. It wasn't a real rock n' roll venue. One night, after we had been playing there for about a week, we noticed there was a young girl that had made her way into the back of the room and she was dancing "our" way. A more modern way. That's really what did it," Sebastian said.

Along the way, he has collaborated with artists like Timothy Leary, Keith Moon, Crosby, Stills & Nash and the Doors. Sebastian played harmonica for the song "Deja Vu" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. In exchange, they provided backing vocals on his first solo album.

For the Doors, Sebastian played harmonica on "Roadhouse Blues" and "Little Red Rooster."

Flash forward to present day, Sebastian is currently on an East Coast tour which began March 7 and resides in Woodstock, New York with his wife.

"I had invitations from Bob Dylan and his manager in the early days to come visit. I just found it to be a very comfortable place," Sebastian said.

Tickets are nearly sold out for "An Evening with John Sebastian." To purchase tickets go to bigarts.org or call (239) 395-0900.

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