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The Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian Plays San Diego

Going to see John Sebastian Sunday at Acoustic Music San Diego (AMSD).

John Sebastian. How can you not like John Sebastian? The glasses, the goofy grin, The Lovin' Spoonful.

And most of all the songs. Everyone knows "Do You Believe in Magic?" but what about "Summer in the City," "Darling Be Home Soon" (and the Joe Cocker cover), "Six O'clock," "Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?" and "Daydream"?

I'll forgive him for the "Welcome Back Kotter" theme song because he probably finally made some money.

He was at Woodstock (the festival). He was in "Woodstock" (the movie); he's in head-to-toe tie-dye and asks the crowd to help him remember the words to one of his own songs. I read that he was high on acid and was grabbed by one of the promoters to fill in a gap between acts. He opens "Woodstock" (the album). He's name checked in The Mamas and The Papas' "Creeque Alley."

These days it's difficult to tell how popular a band really was. The Lovin' Spoonful was an East Coast (New York) band on a small indy (I think) label (Kama Sutra). And they really made only three albums in less than two years ('65-'66) plus the singles.

It must have been difficult to constantly have to come up with "hits" rather than being allowed to stretch out or experiment (this was before Sgt. Pepper). On the other hand sometimes it's good to strike while the iron is hot and crank out as much as possible and hope something will be a hit.

Most of their singles are barely two minutes long, lots of fade outs, etc. It's interesting to listen closely and see how the songs are structured. Sometimes they only need one verse, a catchy chorus and some kind of instrumental break.

It all ended for The Lovin' Spoonful when two of the band members got busted for pot and the band soon ground to a halt with John Sebastian going solo.

As for the venue for Sebastian's Sunday night San Diego show, Acoustic Music San Diego (AMSD) has good sound and great sight lines because everybody sits down and the performer is up on the altar.

The drawback is that it's a church and brings back too many bad memories; the stained glass, the smell, the pews, the hymnals. Hundreds of Sundays spent in a similar place (shudder).

Credit should be given to Carey Driscoll and all his efforts to bring aging folkies to San Diego. Not to Carey: how about bringing Felix Cavaliere down and have him play The Rascals hits on the church organ?

I have seen a number of shows at AMSD including Elliott Murphy who I didn't know was still around and still making albums. He played a great set for the twenty people who were there and even did "Last of the Rock Stars". He didn't do a meet and greet though (John Sebastian is supposed to) so I didn't get to tell him that I had seen him and shaken his hand at the Whiskey in L.A. right after his first album came out.

If you want to shake Sebastian's hand or a Lovin's Spoonful fan, the little church in Normal Heights is where you want to be on Sunday night. See you there!

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