Log In   ·   Become A Member

INTERVIEW: John Sebastian A Cog In The Wheel Of The Greatest Musical Cultural Sea Change In The History Of Man

T.J. Clemente

  |   2 Comments · Print Article

June at WHBPAC will culminate with John Sebastian. (Courtesy Photo)

On Friday June 28, the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC) will present music icon John Sebastian as he brings his one-man guitar and harmonica show to the East End. During a phone interview for Hamptons.com, Sebastian exhibited the enthusiasm he has for life, music and entertaining folks and telling his story about being in the cockpit of a musical cultural revolution and enlightenment.

When asked about the show he will perform in Westhampton, Sebastian replied he has picked "the special ones," and will also tell stories behind so many songs of that time and in his career. He has always been very open about how music has been his life. His dad was a professional musician and eventually brought John to a music store on Second Avenue in New York City and plunked down $12 for John's first guitar, "A Royalist."

Sebastian told me his famous story of being "in Cass Elliot's apartment on Gramercy Park" while still a student at NYU and watching The Beatles play live on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was a "game changer" for his music and his life. He spoke of the five summers he spent living in Florence, Italy with his dad and the reality of absorbing the cultural experience of that city and country.

I asked his for three defining moments of his musical life. Sebastian answered, "First was when I was 16 and my dad was on a TV show with no audience in a studio and I sat behind the camera. On the show was Joan Baez and British Shakespeare actor (and BBC/producer) Richard Hopkins. That was a huge day in my life." Then John said, "Many years later, when I was on a TV show with my dad he was asked when I left home, and he said, 'John left home when he watched a TV show, I was on with Joan Baez and John Hopkins when he was 16.'" John paused and added, "I was surprised how perceptive my dad really was."

His second moment came in the 1980's performing with the "elder statesman of blues," mandolin player Yank Rachell. "There is a song about taking a right on a rode to Brownsville, Tennessee, and one day I was driving Yank and he said, 'Take the right,' and I realized we were on the road to Brownsville in his song."

John Sebastian said his third magic moment was in or around the year 2000 when he played a gig "playing guitar and harmonica with Jimmy Vivino along with Jazz, blues, and rock and roll piano legend Johnnie Clyde Johnson who played on so many of Chuck Berry's early recordings."

I asked Sebastian if he had mentored anyone and he said, "Nobody emulated me, nobody has ever said the greatest influence in my life was The Lovin' Spoonful." John is very wrong about that - who of a certain age cannot remember dancing with a girl to the tune Do You Believe in Magic? It was magic and many folks picked up a guitar to learn to play to have the magic of a beautiful young girl dancing to the music.

John Sebastian was the front man for the ground breaking group The Lovin' Spoonful and his songs: Do You Believe In Magic? You Didn't Have To Be So Nice, Daydream, Summer In The City, Welcome Back and so many more endure. Don't miss a chance to hear this man, who was without a doubt a cog in the wheel of the greatest musical cultural sea change in the history of man.

Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center is located at 76 Main Street in Westhampton Beach. For more information, call 631-288-1500 or visit whbpac.org.

Related Articles:

Guest (Gracie Muldoon-Davis) from Cincinnati Oh says::
Have always been a fan of John and Lovin' Spoonful. When in 2007 he released his CD "Satisfield" with David Grisman - I had the honor of interviewing him on my radio show on WorldWidebluegrass - he was the most delightful guest and I loved every minute. What a humble, fascinating talent - should be one of EVERYBODY's favorite. :) Saw him in Cincinnati years before - he never failed to "bring it" to the stage. Forever a fan!
Jul 19, 2019 2:06 pm

Guest (arnold moodenbaugh) from westhampton says::
An instrumental the Lovin' Spoonful recorded was "Big Noise From Speonk". When I first heard it I was on the West Coast, so I had no idea what Speonk was.
Jun 25, 2019 2:22 pm


Submit Your Comment

Please note, you are not currently logged in. Your comment will be submitted as a guest.
To submit your comment as a member, please click here.
Your Name:
* Comments will be reviewed and posted in a timely fashion
* All fields are required
What color is a firetruck?
(For spam prevention, thanks)
Hamptons Carpet One Floor & Home
We pay less,and so do you.With over 1,000 stores in our buying group, we can get the lowest prices from the best flooring manufacturers — and pass the savings on to you.Visit our other locations: Hamptons Carpet One Floor & Home, 675 North Sea Road,Southampton, NY 11968

Southampton Masonry-Visiting the Southampton or the Wainscott locations is an exciting experience.
Southampton Masonry has been serving Long Island's masonry and tile needs since 1975. Delivering quality products from Manhattan to Montauk for over three decades. The company's continued success is due primarily to their number one priority: customer satisfaction, with a promise of prompt and courteous service from the professional, knowledgeable staff. Southampton Masonry has the largest inventory on the east end. As direct importers they can offer a large variety of the finest quality products at the most competitive pricing for both your interior and exterior projects.

Hamptons luxury real estate specialist for 33 years, Andrea Ackerman offers outstanding expertise in the field.
Hamptons luxury real estate specialist for 34 years, Andrea Ackerman offers outstanding expertise in the field. Trusted, experienced and successful, Andrea has solidified herself as the go-to broker of the Hamptons and a wholehearted advocate for her clients. A pioneer in the real estate industry on the East End of Long Island, she is driven by her passion for the business. Andrea is based in the Bridgehampton office of Brown Harris Stevens as a licensed real estate associate broker and consultant. Formerly, a principal partner and Senior Director at Brown Harris Stevens, Andrea now assists in developing their corporate strategy for the Hamptons region, advising other brokers and sales associates, as well as being one of the top producers and listors.

Southrifty Drug 54 Jagger Lane, Southampton Village
Southrifty Drug is a small, neighborhood pharmacy with limited shelf space, and we have to be very selective about which over-the-counter items we carry. As a result you'll find a no nonsense concentration of very effective, high quality and useful products on our shelves. In this new section, we feature a number of these products that we feel are especially worthy of your consideration.

Burner Law Group, P.C.
Burner Law Group, P.C. are full service elder law attorneys concentrating in the areas of Estate Planning, Trust and Estate Administration and Litigation, Special Needs Planning, Guardianship and Elder Law. Offices in East Setauket‚ NY, Westhampton Beach, NY, and New York, NY.

Suburban Propane in Bridgehampton, New York has been serving proudly supporting our community for 90 years.
Suburban Propane has been serving the energy needs for home owners and business in the Hampton’s for decades. We offer friendly service by local professionals you know and trust, plus the peace of mind that comes from knowing we are among the leaders in the industry for safety.

SGF Acupuncture, PLLC. Is owned and operated By Sandra Geehreng Foster.
SGF Acupuncture, PLLC. Is owned and operated By Sandra Geehreng Foster. Her treatments are based on five element acupuncture. She also offers Far Infrared Sauna treatments. PEMF cellular excerise.