“I’m a contented fool. What can I inform you?”
This was John Sebastian, leaving the Alex Theatre in Glendale early Sunday morning after an epic Lovin’ Spoonful tribute present that lasted 4 hours, with the corridor’s additional time charges accumulating because the group’s principally reunited lineup acquired in a single final “Daydream” proper after the midnight hour. Nobody was about to drag the plug on the Spoonful, as this was the primary time the surviving authentic members had carried out collectively since their Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame induction 20 years in the past… and for all anybody is aware of, it could possibly be the final. If it took twenty years to get them collectively once more, nobody was going to drag the plug on one final Sebastian whistling solo as former bandmates Steve Boone and Joe Butler performed and sang alongside.
Hitting the exit round 1 a.m., Sebastian, appeared energized, not enervated, by 4 hours of efficiency and 4 days of rehearsal wherein his life may need appeared to cross earlier than his eyes — or three years’ price of his life, anyway, since 36 of the 39 songs carried out got here from the transient 1965-67 interval wherein he was on the helm of the Lovin’ Spoonful. (Three early solo-period songs, together with “Welcome Again,” accomplished the setlist.) What was outstanding was that, despite the fact that it’d solely been deliberate for the Spoonful members to carry out a couple of songs through the present, Sebastian sat in for the higher a part of the 4 hours as a sideman, recreating his intricate finger-picking elements or blowing a loud blues harmonica behind a lot of the parade of visitor performers. Fifty-five years after he grew to become a pop star, it was clear Sebastian is a man who loves music — and musicians — probably much more than the revered-as-a-visiting-god half that comes with the territory.
“It did type of go the way in which I anticipated,” Sebastian stated after the present. “I had super confidence that, after getting me and Steve Boone, it’s very arduous to shake us unfastened.” Butler has bodily points that preserve him from being enjoying the drum package anymore, so his contributions as a rhythm part member have been restricted to remoted percussion. However, as Sebastian identified in a Selection Q&A previous the gig, “Joe, man, he sings all of these songs within the authentic keys, which I haven’t been capable of do for 30 years” — and actually, he’s carried out that frequently, because the frontman for a post-Sebastian touring model of the Lovin’ Spoonful. So in deference to these outlets Butler was afforded a couple of lead vocal duties of his personal, together with taking cost of the band’s largest hit, “Summer season within the Metropolis.”
However Sebastian appeared as completely satisfied in regards to the veritable solid of 1000’s on stage because the reunion a part of the present (which he’s stated can’t actually matter because the Lovin’ Spoonful in his thoughts with out lead guitarist Zal Yanovsky, who died in 2002 and was cited a number of instances through the present). “Having these fantastic 40 items was outstanding,” he stated — 40 items unfold throughout 39 songs. “Bear in mind, the Spoonful has by no means had something like this. We’re completely satisfied when anyone says, ‘Hey, we’re gonna do 4 or 5 of your large hits.’”
That included plenty of songs that most likely haven’t been carried out by any of the unique members since 1967… or ever. Was it protected to say that Sebastian had by no means performed “Lonely,” an instrumental written and carried out for the early Francis Ford Coppola movie “You’re a Large Boy Now,” with an precise orchestra because the authentic recording session “That’s right,” he laughed, as if the thought would have been unthinkable. “By no means, by no means, by no means.”
The present started because it ended, with simply Sebastian, Butler and Boone on stage. The ultimate quantity was “Daydream,” however the opener was no barn-burning high 40 hit — it was Mississippi John Damage’s “Espresso Blues,” the lyrics of which gave the group its identify. That lent the not-a-reunion “get-together” a substantial amount of sentimental worth, however Sebastian didn’t take credit score, saying of the candy bookending, “Rob is absolutely accountable for lots of the nice concepts that this present included,” referring to Rob Laufer, the music director for the Wild Honey group’s annual advantages for autism charities.
The scores of musicians and organizers collaborating within the gig have been at the very least as deep in their very own completely satisfied idiocy. The annual Wild Honey reveals are booked whether or not or not any of the tributees are going to point out up, normally with little concept of that till after tickets have already gone on sale. Brian Wilson took half in an early Seaside Boys salute within the ’90s, and Al Jardine joined in a follow-up in 2016. Three years in the past, Garth Hudson did some epic soloing at a Band salute that musicians nonetheless speak about in hushed tones. Two years in the past Richie Furay set the bar excessive by coming and taking a couple of half-hour’s price of lead vocals at a Buffalo Springfield salute. In 2019, at a Kinks-themed present, there have been no Kinks— which was no drawback. When Wild Honey founder Paul Rock put tickets on sale for this Lovin’ Spoonful present, not one of the three had confirmed. That they might enthusiastically reunite for under the third time in 52 years appeared past attain — however Rock’s telephone name telling Sebastian that they’d be completely satisfied if they might fly him in to do nothing greater than play harmonica on “Evening Owl Blues” succeeded as a gross sales job the place affords of precise monetary renumeration had not up to now.
The gravy, past the (oh, let’s name it a) reunion, was in Sebastian’s eagerness to really be a part of the band… in addition to to be raconteur sufficient that he might have been named co-host alongside the precise emcee, veteran music business determine Pat Thomas. Amongst different peak highlights Sebastian did play harmonica on the instrumental “Evening Owl Blues,” sharing the highlight in a duel with Dave Alvin on guitar.
“He was additionally the primary man I ever heard play electrical blues harmonica,” stated the previous Blaster of Sebastian, whose bona fides as a roots-oriented musician didn’t all the time get paramount consideration amid the highest 10 hits. “I used to be 9 years previous a couple of miles away from right here once I noticed my first rock ‘n’ roll present ever, on the Rose Bowl. And it was Herman’s Hermits…” Alvin shook his palm backward and forward in a gesture of “simply so-so.” “East L.A. Midnighters. It was the Turtles. After which it acquired actually good.” (“I used to be there!” screamed a girl within the viewers.) “Subsequent it was the Bobby Fuller 4. And the opposite act was the Lovin’ Spoonful. You gave me my first rock ‘n’ roll present — so thanks for giving me my life.”
The invoice was stuffed with slightly-next-generation artists, with Sebastian clearly a fan of a lot of them, in contrast to a few of his extra cloistered ’60s contemporaries. “You certain picked the suitable particular person for this,” he stated of the Textones’ Carla Olson, with whom he made a duet, kind of, out of the country-flavored “Tales We Might Inform.” The late-’70s-forward determine he was clearly most delighted to be within the firm of, although, was the Vehicles’ Elliott Easton (as promised in Sebastian’s Selection interview) — somebody whose not-so-exposed country-folk finger-picking expertise made him a perfect sparring accomplice for Sebastian on classic songs that had as soon as matched him with the late Yanovsky.
One present spotlight had Sebastian and Easton having fun with an all-out selecting bromance on both facet of the singer Eleni Mandell as she turned “Fishin’ Blues,” the primary music off the primary Lovin’ Spoonful album, into one thing it’d most likely by no means been earlier than: a horny vamp.
Precise ’60s contemporaries of the Spoonful have been in shorter provide, however with a couple of notable exceptions: The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz had his manner with “Daydream” earlier than Sebastian and bandmates reprised it as their acoustic encore. Moby Grape’s Peter Lewis sang one of many few songs not written by Sebastian — “Different Aspect of This Life,” a Fred Neil composition additionally lined by Jefferson Airplane. Claudia Linnear, a backup singer dropped at the fore within the documentary “20 Toes from Stardom,” and clearly considered one of Sebastian’s favourite folks, took on one other cover-of-a-cover, “You Child,” recorded by the Ronettes earlier than the Spoonful acquired to it. It was Sebastian’s concept going into rehearsals that they need to work up one thing nearer to the Phil Spector recording than his. “Man, you inhabit Ronnie Bennett for me,” he instructed her earlier than they launched into the tune.
Sebastian did lower himself some breaks through the 4 hours, and there have been a lot extra highlights in his absence. For all of the nation and blues influences that got here to the fore, there have been additionally some pleasant moments of pure garage-rock, like Nick Guzman’s studying of “There She Is,” with the Muffs’ Ronnie Barnett and Roy McDonald because the rhythm part. Peter Case and Olson additionally went thrashy with a duet of the taunting “four Eyes.” Inestimable music director Rob Laufer gave himself a prize for his arduous work — “Darling Be House Quickly” — and confirmed he’d earned it. (He talked about how Elliott had stated he wished to take part within the present simply so as to add the one-note rhythm guitar half, however Elliott was backstage doing an interview and didn’t present up until midway by way of the music, hurriedly selecting up the guitar stand together with his guitar as he leaped to the stage.) Mark Eitzel turned the reluctant breakup ballad “Didn’t Need to Must Do It” into the stuff of precise near-tragedy. Extra comically, Cindy Lee Berryhill was unforgettably accompanied on “Cash” by a line of three banjo pickers — plus drummer Jim Laspesa shifting up entrance, carrying a hat with “press” within the brim, so as to add percussion within the type of an undervalued rock ‘n’ roll instrument, the handbook typewriter.
Susan Cowsill was the one particular person on stage of a novel age and profession to be counted as next-generation and as a fellow ’60s pop veteran. Or possibly so did Invoice Mumy, of “Twilight Zone” fame, who, when Easton was once more barely tardy to the stage for his half, joked that he was afraid the guitarist had “gone to the cornfield.” Others ably taking a couple of minutes within the highlight included Marshall Crenshaw, Marti Jones with husband Don Dixon, Steve Stanley, Kathy McCarty (“I’ve two and a half minutes to make you like me,” she introduced earlier than “Youthful Technology,” and she or he did), the Smithereens’ Dennis Diken (who wrote liner notes for a Spoonful reissue), Fairport Conference’s Iain Matthews and Pugwash’s Thomas Walsh and David Goodstein. Just a few precise bands acquired their flip, within the type of the all-female band Wednesday Week, nation harmonizing trio Lifeless Rock Moist, and the Three O’Clock — the latter joined by vocalist Darian Sahanaja, who proclaimed himself as large a teenaged fan of the O’Clock as they have been of the Spoonful.
An precise Nashvillian was introduced in to carry out “Nashville Cats”: Invoice Lloyd — whose credentials included not simply that he’s a famend Tennessee singer and picker, however that he used to work on the Nation Music Corridor of Fame and helped curate the exhibit that was named after that music a couple of years in the past. Dramarama’s John Easdale drew what was both the quick straw or lengthy straw, relying in your pondering, with what was maybe essentially the most cult-pleasingly surprising selection of the night time, “Pow!,” from the “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?” soundtrack. Carnie Wilson and husband Rob Bonfiglio acquired one of many climactic slots, a place befitting her royalty in these Seaside Boy-worshipping circles, with a signature Spoonful music that continues to convey even easier-going vibess than “Good Vibrations”: “You Didn’t Must Be So Good.”
That the Wild Honey advantages really feel like a household gathering yearly was underscored by a collection of dedications to previous members. Muffs members Barnett and McDonald got here out on the high to pay tribute to late frontwoman Kim Shattuck. Sahanaja instructed tales about Nicky Marvel, the guitarist who died on the eve of a latest Brian Wilson tour. The loss felt maybe most generally throughout the Alex was that of Gary Stewart, who was final seen by many attendees on the Kinks tribute a 12 months in the past. It appeared unthinkable that he’d have missed the subsequent Wild Honey present, if he’d thought of it. On an inventory of causes to dwell one other 12 months, they rank.