Monthly Archives: October 2010

Mogwai w/Feb LP, Spring Tour

American leg of the
tour will start in April so you can relax for now…

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Mogwai
have new album, “Hardcore Will Never Die,
But You Will”
due February 15th on Sub Pop in North America and
the band’s very own label, Rock Action Records in the UK.

 
“Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will”, the band’s seventh album,
was recorded over the summer at Chem 19 Studios, in Hamilton and mixed at The Castle Of Doom. “Hardcore” is produced by Mogwai
confidante Paul Savage (the man behind Mogwai’s exceptional 1997 “Mogwai Young Team”  album) and is the logical follow up to the
band’s 2008’s magnum opus “The Hawk Is
Howling.”

 

Meanwhile,
the current issue of BLURT (Of Montreal cover) features an interview with
filmmaker Vincent Moon, who talks about making the Mogwai concert documentary Burning.I

Tracklisting:

White Noise
Mexican Grand Prix
Rano Pano
Death Rays
San Pedro
Letters To The Metro
George Square Thatcher Death Party
How To Be A Werewolf
Too Raging To Cheers
You’re Lionel Richie

 

 

There
will also be a Limited Edition version of the album, which includes a bonus CD
featuring a 26 minute long piece called ‘The Singing Mountain’ recorded for
Douglas Gordon and Olaf Nicolai’s ‘Monument for Forgotten Future’ installation
in Essen, Germany.

 

 

EUROPEAN DATES
Jan 26: Tolbooth, Stirling (www.ticketsoup.com / 01786 274000)
Jan 27: Paisley Town Hall (www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/onlinebooking/0141 887 1010)
Jan 28: Perth Theatre, Perth (www.horsecross.co.uk/ 01738 621 031)
Jan 29: The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen (www.boxofficeaberdeen.com)
Jan 30: Grand Ole Opry, Glasgow (www.seetickets.com/ 0871 220 0260)
Feb 2: Tokyo, Japan (More details to follow)
Feb 13: Mandela Hall, Belfast (www.ticketmaster.ie/ 0844 847 2455)
Feb 14: The Live Lounge, Galway (www.ticketmaster.ie/ 0818 719 300)
Feb 15: Olympia Theatre, Dublin (www.ticketmaster.ie/ 0818 719 300)
Feb 17: Bournemouth O2 Academy (www.ticketweb.co.uk/0844 477 2000)
Feb 18: Cardiff University (www.seetickets.com / 02920 230130)
Feb 19: Bristol O2 Academy (www.seetickets.com / 0870 4444400)
Feb 20: Leeds O2 Academy (www.ticketweb.co.uk / 0844 477 2000)
Feb 21: Edinburgh Picture House (www.seetickets.com / 0871 220 0260)
Feb 23: The Regal, Oxford (www.kililive.com/ www.tctmusic.co.uk)
Feb 24: Birmingham Institute (www.seetickets.com/0870 264 3333,
www.ticketweb.co.uk/0844 477 1000, www.hmvtickets.com / 0843 221 0100)
Feb 25: Brixton O2 Academy London (www.seetickets.com/ 0870 264 3333,
www.stargreen.com/ 0207 734 8932, www.ticketweb.co.uk/ 0844 477 1000)  
    
Feb 26: Manchester Academy (www.seetickets.com / 0870 264 3333,
www.ticketline.co.uk / 0844 888 9991)
        
Feb 27: The Sage Gateshead (www.thesagegateshead.org/0191 443 4661)
Mar 6: Mousonturm, Frankfurt, Germany
Mar 7: Backstage, Munich, Germany
Mar 8: WuK, Vienna, Austria (www.oeticket.com)
Mar 9: Estragon, Bologna, Italy (www.ticketone.it)
Mar 10: Alcatraz, Milan, Italy (www.ticketone.it)
Mar 11: Rote Fabrik, Zurich, Switzerland (www.rotefabrik.ch/de)
Mar 13: Den Atelier, Luxemborg (www.atelier.lu)
Mar 14: Stollwerck, Cologne, Germany
Mar 15: Paradiso, Amsterdam, Holland (www.paradiso.nl/ www.ticketservice.nl)
Mar 17: Trianon, Paris, France
Mar 18: Aeronef, Lille, France
Mar 19: La Laterie, Strasbourg, France
Mar 20: Transbordeur, Lyon, France
Mar 21: Theatre Lino Ventura, Nice, France
Mar 22: Le Bikini, Toulouse, France
Mar 24: Rockschool Barbey, Bordeaux, France
Mar 25: BBC, Caen, France
Mar 26: AB, Brussels, Belgium (www.livenation.be/ www.abconcerts.be)
Mar 28: Gruenspan, Hamburg, Germany
Mar 29: Postbahnhof, Berlin, Germany
Mar 30: Cpoenhagen, Denmark
Mar 31: Aarhus, Denmark
Apr 1: Tradgarn, Gothenburg, Sweden
Apr 2: Rockefeller, Oslo, Norway (www.billettservice.no)
Apr 3: Debaser Medis, Stockholm, Sweden
Apr 5: Tavastia, Helsinki, Finland (www.tiketti.fi)

 
US DATES
Apr 19: 9.30 Club, Washington DC
Apr 20: Starlight Ballroom, Philadelphia
Apr 21: Webster Hall, New York
Apr 22: Webstar Hall, New York
Apr 23: Paradise Rock Club, Boston
Apr 25: Olympia Theater, Montreal
Apr 26: Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto
Apr 27: Mr. Smalls Theatre, Pittsburgh
Apr 28: St. Andrews Hall, Detroit
Apr 29: Metro, Chicago
Apr 30: Slowdown, Omaha
May 2: Bluebird Theater, Denver
May 3: In The Venue, Salt Lake City
May 5: Wonder Ballroom, Portland
May 6: Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver
May 7: Showbox at the Market, Seattle
May 9: Regency Ballroom, San Francisco
May 10: Mayan Theater, Los Angeles
May 11: Belly Up Tavern, Solana Beach
May 13: Sunshine Theatre, Albuquerque
May 15: Granada Theatre, Dallas
May 16: Stubbs Waller Creek, Austin
May 17: Warehouse Live, Houston
May 19: Workplay Theater, Birmingham
May 20: Center Stage, Atlanta

 

 

Read: New Todd Rundgren Bio

 

A Wizard, A True Star: Todd Rundgren in the Studio, published this month by Jawbone press,
takes a good hard luck at the Runt and his work as both artist and producer –
the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

By Lee Zimmerman

For a musician who’s been so prolific… and so persistent…
over the past 40 years or so, there’s been surprisingly little written about
Todd Rundgren and the course of his career. So while A Wizard, A True Star: Todd Rundgren in the Studio can’t be
considered a formal biography per se, it is one of the most expansive narratives
that’s been penned so far.

 

Written by Paul Myers — an author credited with more
obscure tomes about Long John Baldry and Barenaked Ladies – the book thoroughly
dissects Todd’s studio exploits, tossing in a generous sampling of outside
observations and intriguing insights into his studio regimen. Clearly, Rundgren’s
assertive stance and authoritative personality have occasionally left his
charges grumbling with discontent. And yet, there’s little doubt that he’s also
boosted any number of artists that were in desperate need of guidance. In fact,
if there’s been any single strand in Rundgren’s trajectory, it’s his
willingness to work with a staggering array of artists, a remarkably diverse
mesh of styles and personalities. Indeed, there’s little common ground between
XTC and Grand Funk Railroad, or Meatloaf and the New York Dolls. Yet even so,
Rundgren’s always manages to ratchet up the hooks and harness the melodies to ensure
an accessible sound.

 

If Rundgren’s sometimes guilty of recasting these artists in
his own image in order to make them more agreeable to the masses, he’s also the
first to plead guilty as charged. “If you know what you want, I’ll get it for
you,” he asserts. “If you don’t know what you want, I’ll do it for you.” That unrelenting
attitude underscores the book’s most dramatic revelations, and interviews with the
artists he’s produced bear witness to Todd’s sometimes testy technique. “He’s a
prick in the studio,” Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin notes somewhat sardonically.
“It’s his way or the highway… if you don’t like hearing the truth about your
own shortcomings, don’t talk to Todd. “

 

While such assessments seem commonplace throughout, the
pertinent details about Rundgren’s life outside the studio are given only a
cursory nod. His relationship with model Bebe Buell is mentioned only in
passing, and his crucial formative years with the Nazz, the band that served as
his springboard to success in writing, producing and performing, is given a
scant six pages. Even his stint with Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band rates nothing
more than a brief mention.

 

Inevitably though, those become minor complaints. The star
power packed into this book reflects a who’s who of pop music spanning the
course of more than four decades. The remarkable insights into the Rundgren
regimen suggest he’s an artist who could rightfully be considered in the same
category of genius as Brian Wilson, George Martin, Leiber and Stoller, Phil
Spector or any of the other legendary studio stalwarts who etched their sound
in pop’s pantheon.  A fascinating
narrative, A Wizard, A True Star  affirms Rundgren’s an artist for the ages.

 

 

Avey Tare Lays Low; AC Curates ATP

Swampy time for the
new album! Read the Blurt interview, too.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

With his solo debut Down
There
released this week, you’d think that Animal Collective frontman Avey
Tare would be ramping up with a tour and more, but for the time being he’s
apparently content to just kick back in Brooklyn and observe the reaction to
the album. According to his Facebook page, the only event that he’s scheduled
thus far related to the record was a release party Monday night at Secret Robot
Project in Brooklyn.

 

That’s okay; we can wait. Meanwhile, the rest of you go grab
the album, and you can read our interview with him from a few days ago
elsewhere on the BLURT site. Among Avey’s bon
mots
:

 

On making the new
record
: “I’ve had more time this year, and since we haven’t been touring,
it felt like a good time.  I guess this record is different than something
Animal Collective would do, but I think that’s mostly because I did it on my
own and not with the other guys.”

 

On the crocodile-swamp
motifs of the record:
“In some ways, it was good to be able to tie this
into the emotional aspect of the music ‘cause I have often thought a swamp is a
good metaphor for the emotions I was feeling at the time. I was a bit stuck in
a rut so to speak and so that sticky swampy quality worked with the songs and
emotions. I like to think of the swamp as otherworldly – like ghost swamp or
something you would find in the afterlife.”

 

Chomp, chomp.

 

Meanwhile, it was just announced that Animal Collective will be curating a weekend at next May’s All Tomorrow’s Parties. It will take place May 13-15 in Minehead, England, and will include Gang Gang Dance, Lee Scratch Perry, Ariel Pink, Black Dice, Broadcast, Prince Rama and many more – not to mention the Meat Puppets doing their entire Up on the Sun album and the Frogs performing their “gay pride” classic It’s Only Right & Natural.

Stay tuned for more details.

 

 

[Photo Credit: Atiba Jefferson]

 

 

LimeWire Ordered to Close Up Shop

File-sharing software
is officially verboten.

 

By Fred Mills

 

The world of illicit file-sharing just got a little colder
yesterday after software company LimeWire was ordered by U.S. District Court
judge in Manhattan
to stop distributing its file-sharing product. LimeWire, long embattled due to
its copyright violation enabling status (so to speak), had been sued four years
ago by the music industry (plaintiffs included Sony, Virgin, Arista, Capitol
and Warner Bros.).

 

According to CNN.com, the judge determined that LimeWire “intentionally
encouraged direct infringement” by users of its site, and also “marketed
itself to Napster users, who were known copyright infringers.”

 

The Lime Company posted a message from LimeWire CEO George Searle that read,
in part, “As of today, we are required to stop distribution and support of
LimeWire’s P2P file-sharing service as a result of a court-ordered injunction. Naturally,
we’re disappointed with this turn of events. We are extremely proud of our
pioneering history and have, for years, worked hard to bridge the gap between
technology and content rights holders. However, at this time, we have no option
but to cease further distribution and support of our software. While we have
enabled open sharing and discovery for the past decade, LimeWire is mostly the
product of the people who used it.

 

“The injunction applies only to the LimeWire product. Our company remains
open for business. We remain deeply committed to working with the music
industry and making the act of loving music more fulfilling for everyone –
including artists, songwriters, publishers, labels, and of course music fans. Our
team of technologists and music enthusiasts is creating a completely new music
service that puts you back at the center of your digital music
experience.”

 

Download fiends eagerly await the next chapter in the LimeWire story, no
doubt. That noise you hear in the background? It’s the sound of millions of
jonesing file-sharers beating a path to BitTorrent….

 

 

 

Report: Guided By Voices Live in S.F.

We check in on the reunion tour with the Oct. 5 show from San Francisco’s Warfield
Theatre, which yielded more than just the “hits” and far more than mere
nostalgia. And shit yeah, it’s cool.

 

By Zach Bloom

Guided By Voices was last
seen in 2005 when Robert Pollard disbanded his group of soft rock renegades
with The Electrifying Conclusion Tour. At the time, Pollard posed as if beyond
critique, touting himself a Solider of Rock. His relatively youthful backing
band perfected the cracks and imperfections from GBV’s days as a lovable, lo-fi
bedroom project. (Before it was cool to be a lo-fi bedroom project; Pollard and
his friends were just average guys, living in the midwest without the benefits
of the internet.)

 

It would seem that GBV had
to go away for it to ever come back – well, like this, at least. The “classic”
lineup that recorded its albums for Matador Records in the mid-‘90s has
returned to celebrate the label’s 21st anniversary. It’s a big
reunion as Pollard takes to the road with songwriter and guitarist Tobin
Sprout, guitarist Mitch Mitchell, bassist Greg Demos, and drummer Kevin
Fennell. The majority of the crew hasn’t veered far from the GBV universe of
prolific collaborations and side projects, but this marks the first time since
hitting the road in support of 1996’s mega Under The Bushes, Under The Stars that the core membership of Pollard’s hometown “Monument Club” has shared a
stage. But they’d probably just prefer it to be thought of as a bunch of
fifty-something guys out for another lap.

 

“We have to get in shape to
go on tour now,” Pollard confessed to the audience at The Warfield in San Francisco. “No eating
pasta!” By the looks of it, the diehards could understand, having downed as
many beers, for as long a time. Smaller in numbers, but appropriately more
energetic, was a younger generation of fans that wouldn’t be much older than
Matador itself. All the same, the sea of bodies didn’t miss a beat in letting
out a collective roar when Demos’ plucked out the riff to “A Salty Salute,” the
anthemic opener from Alien Lanes.

 

With old friends at a
wingspan’s reach, Pollard’s come back down to earth as a frontman. Tobin Sprout
shared the mic and the spotlight. Rather than worshipping at the alter of Bob,
there was a shared devotion to dozens of well-crafted, balls-out rock tunes
that the band clearly cherishes as much as the fans. The grand sense of the
event had a feeling more alive than nostalgia but hard to peg as anything else.

 

Lesser known tracks “Matter
Eater Lad” and “My Impression Now” didn’t resonate deep into the crowd; it’s a
hits tour, despite not having any. The mad surges of bodies twisting and voices
reaching continued from the opening into “Shocker In Gloomtown” and “Tractor
Rape Chain,” and held up well into the encore. “Echos Myron” found Pollard
dominating the musical breaks, pushing the momentum over the edge. Actual
pogoing took place, leading to the appropriate shouts of “All fall down!” near
the song’s end.

 

Like Pixies have decided,
GBV could happily and successfully live out the following years touring on a
time capsule of great songs. There will always be an audience for it. For them,
finding a substitute hasn’t been easy. And shit yeah, it’s cool.

 

 

 

 

Sickest Halloween Bash…. Ever!

 

So how much would YOU
pay to see all these bands – the actual ones that is – on the same bill?

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Everybody’s got Halloween plans, right? Going to see
some rock ‘n’ roll this weekend, right? Well, if you happen to be on the left
coast, we suggest you slither over to Thee Parkside Sunday night – as Blurt
contributor Barry St. Vitus, who brought this to our attention, puts it, “This is
the sickest Halloween show ever.”

 

To wit:

 

Nobunny (reviewed here) will be performing as The Cramps, Uzi Rash as The
Monks,
 Apache as The
Damned
, Monster Maus as The Velvet
Underground
, Tumor Boys
as The Stooges and Space Titanium as Destroy All Monsters.

 

‘Nuf
said.

 

 

Sonny Smith: 100 Recs Project Continues

 

Five-disc box set to
drop in November, the second in a series – collect ‘em all.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Turn
Up Records will release “100 Records
Volume 2: I Miss The Jams”
by the ever-eclectic Sonny Smith in
two formats next month. Initially, a 5 disk boxed set on Nov 16th and
then in CD form on Nov. 30th.

 

Sometimes
the community rallies around an individual and the results are undeniable.
There is a long and winding back story to Smith’s “100 Records” project, Smith
being a leading light on the San
Francisco 
nu-garage scene. He wrote 200 songs that make up 100 conceptual 7″
singles for a multi-media art show that traveled around the US this past
year.  Although all the music was penned by Smith, he attributed his
masterful tongue-in-cheek brand of laid-back garage-pop tunes to mystical
musicians like Zig Speck, Earth Girl Helen Brown and The Loud Fast Fools
derived from Smith’s imaginative prose.

Along with
producer Marc Dantona, Sonny assembled a “Wrecking Crew” of players from the SF
scene. They got together to record songs in basements and apartments around the
city and a whole other team of visual artists contributed artwork for each
record cover. Here you have 10 songs from the Sonny Smith’s 100 Records. Recorded
on vintage gear, with local heroes such as Tim Cohen from the Fresh &
Onlys, Kelley Stoltz, Ty Segall, and members of the Sandwitches, and Citay all
contributing, this new music sounds as though it could be from a bygone age,
one at once more innocent and dangerous.

While the artwork
and the concept are both wonderfully original and compelling, it’s the tunes
that stand out here. Earth Girl Helen Brown’s “I Want To Do It”
(featuring Heidi Alexander from The Sandwitches) is a sexual plea worthy of
Ronnie Spector by way of the Velvet Underground. Cabezas Cordates’
“Teenage Thugs” revs its Dick Dale motor like Steve McQueen in
“Bullet” running over James Dean in “Rebel Without a
Cause.” Loud Fast Fools’ “Time To Split” will have any square
shakin’ and shimmeyin’ like a greaser at the high school dance. It’s a rock n roll
affair that’s decidedly old school. Sonny’s songs have a rawness that is hard
to come by these days, and his beautiful, fun, and often heart wrenching
melodies send the whole record into classic territory.

 

Sonny Smith also
fronts Sonny & the Sunsets. Read our review of his recent album
Tomorrow
Is Alright elsewhere on the Blurt site.

 

 

 

Anton Newcombe Sez: Blue Angel Lounge!

 

Brian Jonestown Massacre mainman serves up a
hot platterful of der kraut rock!

 

By Blurt Staff

 

The Blue Angel
Lounge, from Hagen, Germany,  are
set to release their second studio album, ‘Narcotica’, November 16th – it was produced with the assistance of Anton Newcombe from the Brian Jonestown Massacre at Studio East in the former Communist
East German ‘Funkhaus’ sound
complex in Berlin (which served as a Communist radio station prior to the fall
of the Berlin Wall). The album will be released via Berlin’s 8MM Music and Newcombe’s own A
Records.

 

Newcombe can also be heard on backing vocals on the first
single, ‘Delete My Ideals’ and
joined the band onstage at their show in Munich
last week to perform the song, as shown in the photo above.

 

The band and their previous self-titled debut has been
something of a blogger’s secret tip, but this may not be the case this time
around, as they have taken a tremendous stride forward since their 2008
self-titled debut. The result being a more dynamic and atmospheric recording —
while staying true to their Velvet
Underground inspired colors, the broader, timeless influences of New
Wave, Post Punk and Shoegaze are accented throughout . There is a darker
psychedelic vein as well as more uptempo tracks to keep a dynamic balance and
one which embraces a variety of listeners. 

 

The backstory: Founded in 2006 by Nils Ottensmeyer and Dennis
‘Mel’ Melster, the band completed their self-titled debut in 2008, of
which 500 vinyl copies were self-released. One of the copies made it into the
hands of Will Carruthers of Spacemen 3, who subsequently passed it
on to a friend at 8MM Musik. The
band were signed shortly after.

 

An appearance at the UK’s
Dream Machine Festival in 2008
led to the track ‘A God’, from their debut, being included on the UK neo-psych
compilation ‘Open Your Mind’, later pronounced DIY Compilation Of The Week by the BBC in 2009. Following their first ever show in Berlin in 2009,
Anton Newcombe was so impressed, he offered to help with production, and, with
his studio wizardry and the band’s already stellar songwriting and musical talent,
Narcotica’ was recorded in under two
weeks.

 

 

 

Further Proof the ‘90s Really Did Suck

 

Seriously: Spin
Doctors, Meredith Brooks, Tonic, Blind Melon, Live… need we say more?

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Of course, if we were programming all this, we’d call it Worst Nineties Compilation… Ever!, but
that’s just because we’re smartasses. Anyway, if you’re reading this, you don’t
need us to tell you how badly the ‘90s sucked; for all you kids, don’t believe
your parents when they single out the ‘70s, because WE lived through both
decades and we know of what we speak.

 

In a timely move, then, EMI will be releasing, on Nov. 9,
the latest in its popular, multimillion-dollar selling NOW That’s What I Call…series of anthologies, and this one’s a
doozy. It brings together 18
of the decade’s top chart hits, including New Radicals’ “You Get What You
Give,” Spin Doctors’ “Two Princes,” Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week,” Meredith
Brooks’ “Bitch,” Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy,” Joan Osborne’s “One Of
Us,” Lisa Loeb’s “Stay (I Missed You),” Des’Ree’s “You Gotta Be,” Duran Duran’s
“Ordinary World,” Shawn Mullins’ “Lullabye,” Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be,” Tonic’s
“If You Could Only See,” Vertical Horizon’s “Everything You Want,” Everclear’s
“Father Of Mine,” Live’s “I Alone,” Collective Soul’s “Shine,” Blind Melon’s
“No Rain,” and Sublime’s “What I Got.” The full track listing is below.

 

Truly, a
turd that is polished, is a turd that glistens! Can we have our ten years back?

 

 

1.  New Radicals                                               You
Get What You Give

2.  Spin Doctors                                                Two
Princes

3.  Barenaked Ladies                                         One
Week

4.  Meredith Brooks                                           Bitch

5.  Sheryl Crow                                                  If
It Makes You Happy

6.  Joan Osborne                                              One
Of Us

7.  Lisa Loeb                                                     Stay
(I Missed You)

8.  Des’Ree                                                       You
Gotta Be

9.  Duran Duran                                                 Ordinary
World

10. Shawn Mullins                                              Lullabye

11. Edwin McCain                                              I’ll
Be

12. Tonic                                                           If
You Could Only See

13. Vertical Horizon                                           Everything
You Want

14. Everclear                                                     Father
Of Mine

15. Live                                                             I
Alone

16. Collective Soul                                            Shine

17. Blind Melon                                                 No
Rain

18. Sublime                                                       What
I Got

 

Report: John Sebastian Live in Saratoga

 

Appearing at the
Montalvo Carriage House on October 22, the erstwhile Lovin’ Spoonful leader
dipped all the way back to the beginning to scoop up gem after gem from his
back catalog.

 

By
Jud Cost

 

John
Sebastian, frontman for famed New York folk-rockers the Lovin’ Spoonful, is
back on the west coast, toting a couple of electric guitars, plenty of chart-topping
’60s tunes and tall tales of the days when his band was as big as most of the
British Invasion stars of the day. The perfect 1965 haircut may have thinned a
bit, and the trademark, round wire-rim glasses have been traded in for the
current model, but the good-time attitude is still there-in spades!

 

“I
was a lucky guy. I grew up right in the heart of Greenwich
Village, right off Washington
Square,” says Sebastian, a card-carrying
member of the budding, early-’60s N.Y. folk scene. At times tonight, Sebastian
seems almost overwhelmed by a supportive Montalvo Carriage House audience of
about 300 in Saratoga, Calif. “Your enthusiasm amazes
me,” he says. “I’ve played places in New York where there’d be old guys in the
back playing chess.”

 

Sebastian
wraps the crowd around his little finger as he describes the night he got up
the nerve to talk to his idol, Delta blues legend Mississippi John Hurt,
concealed in a tiny dressing room behind a green curtain in Manhattan’s
Gaslight Cafe. “I open the curtain, and right there is John Hurt, and I
lose it,” he says. “I forget what I’m gonna ask him.” Unlike
bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins,
who would turn away when he played his best stuff, Hurt was very kind to the
nervous kid, showing him some of his trademark fretboard maneuvers.

 

The
best moments come when Sebastian describes the genesis of many of the
Spoonful’s ten Top 20 American hits, a streak that lasted from 1965-67. “I
loved Motown, particularly Martha and the Vandellas,” he says as he strums
the chords to “Heat Wave,” the Vandellas’ 1963 hit. “That
sounded so cool. I figured if I played those chords twice as fast it might be
twice as cool.” The pattern immediately morphs into the Lovin’ Spoonful’s
first smash, “Do You Believe In Magic?” an incandescent song whose
title became a buzz phrase for the hippie music scene about to burst at the
seams on the west coast.

 

Or
the time they kinda pinched part of a song by jug-band legend Gus Cannon and
turned it into Spoonful staple “Younger Girl.” Sebastian recalls Mac
Rebennack (a.k.a. Dr. John, the Night Tripper) telling him, “We’d steal
from anybody we could.” The Spoonful, too, notes Sebastian, were real
“musical kleptomaniacs.”

 

“We
headed straight for San Francisco
in 1965,” says Sebastian after forming the band with guitarist Zally
Yanovsky, bassist Steve Boone and drummer Joe Butler. “Of course, in those
days we couldn’t get arrested. We played a club in North Beach
called Mother’s that featured a dancer named Topless Maria. And it wasn’t easy
playing when you’re going like this,” he says, demonstrating the whiplash
effect that sharing the stage with a semi-nude young girl would have on a
novice musician.

 

Boone
asked Sebastian back in the early days, right after the hits started coming, if
weird things had been happening to him, too, like “getting lots of
attention you know you didn’t deserve” from young female admirers.

 

“Nashville Cats” [“Been playin’
since they’s babies…Get work before they’re two”] came from a late-night
beer or two shared in the hotel bar by Sebastian and Yanovsky after the
Spoonful had played a prestigious Music City venue. They noticed some kid
setting up his gear and starting to play his guitar for any bar patrons who’d
listen. “And he was so much better than we were. Here we were, playing
this big theater, and he’s playing the Holiday Inn. We just tiptoed out of that
place.” Turns out the neophyte picker was a teenage Danny Gatton.

 

During
his early days, Sebastian played harp with the Even Dozen Jug Band, whose
members included David Grisman, Steve Katz and Maria D’Amato. The gold standard
of the genre, however, was the Jim Kweskin Jug Band from Cambridge, Mass. whose
jug player, Fritz Richmond, is credited with coming up with the band name for
the Lovin’ Spoonful. “Fritz looked like a riverboat gambler, and he had
these funny, little round spectacles. Note to self…” says Sebastian who
would soon adopt similar eyewear.

 

The
“straight eight,” a change-up from rock’s trademark 2 and 4 backbeat
was copped by the Spoonful from another Motown classic, “Where Did Our
Love Go” by the Supremes, claims Sebastian, who used it as the backbone
for their ’66 hit “Daydream.” With the curious omission of the band’s
only U.S. number one smash, “Summer In The City,” (a song written by
Sebastian, Boone and John’s younger brother, Mark Sebastian), all the career
stepping-stones were touched upon, including “You Didn’t Have To Be So
Nice” and “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?” Sebastian
ended things with a heartfelt rendition of “Darling Be Home Soon,”
followed by a rip-snorting harmonica encore, an instrument he first heard
played by his dad, a classical music virtuoso.

 

If
a full-blown Lovin’ Spoonful reunion doesn’t seem in the cards these days
(Yanovsky died in 2002), John Sebastian is ready, willing and able to spread
his band’s legacy single-handed, just the way he started out in Greenwich Village: one small basket-house at a time.
Oblivious chess-playing old-timers in the back are now optional.

 

[Photo
Credit: CSP Images]