father, also named John Sebastian, was a noted classical harmonica
player and his mother was a radio script writer. John Benton
Sebastian grew up in Greenwich Village in New York City in the
late '50s and early '60s surrounded by music and musicians,
including Burl Ives and Woody Guthrie and hearing such players
as Leadbelly and Mississippi John Hurt in his own neighborhood.
By the age of 16, he was stepping onto the stages of coffeehouses
and folk clubs, and by the age of 18 he was appearing as a sideman
One of his first recording gigs was
playing harmonica for Fred Neil on his Bleecker & MacDougal
album in 1965 and playing bass on Bob Dylan's first electric
album, Bringing It All Back Home.
In 1964, he joined the Even Dozen Jug
Band, with luminaries Dave Grisman, Maria Muldaur, Stefan Grossman
and others. He was also briefly in the Mugwumps, along with
future Lovin' Spoonful guitarist Zal Yanovsky and future members
of the Mamas and the Papas Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty. Sebastian
and Yanovsky joined with Steve Boone and popular drummer-vocalist
Joseph Campbell Butler to form the Lovin' Spoonful, named after
a Mississippi John Hurt song.
Lovin' Spoonful became part of the American response to the
British Invasion. Folk rock in nature the Lovin' Spoonful had
a string of hits in 1965-1967 that included the chart-toppers
"Daydream," "Summer in the City," "Jug
Band Music," "Do You Believe in Magic", "You
Didn't Have to Be So Nice," "Nashville Cats,"
"Rain on the Roof," "You're a Big Boy Now,""Did
You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind," "Six O'Clock,"
"Darling, Be Home Soon.""Six O'Clock," and
leaving the Lovin' Spoonful in 1968, Sebastian was popular among
the rock festival circuits. He had a memorable, albeit unscheduled
appearance at Woodstock, appearing after Country Joe McDonald's
set, playing songs such as "I Had A Dream," "Rainbows
All Over You Blues" and "Younger Generation"
which he dedicated to a newborn baby at the festival. Sebastian
also returned for Woodstock '94, playing harmonica for Crosby,
Stills and Nash. Sebastian released his eponymous LP John B.
Sebastian in 1970, which featured him accompanied by various
L.A. musicians which included favorites like "She's a Lady"
and "Red Eye Express."
In 1976, Sebastian had a number one
single with the theme song to the Welcome Back, Kotter television
show, which found new life decades later when a sample from
it became the hook for rapper Mase's 2004 hit "Welcome
Several modern musicians cite
him as a large influence, including renowned blues harmonica
player, Mike Tetrault. As a songwriter, Sebastian's songs have
been covered by Elvis Costello ("The Room Nobody Lives
In"), Dolly Parton, Del McCoury, Helen Reddy, Brenda Lee,
Johnny Cash, Bobby Darin, Slade, Joe Cocker and Jimmy Buffett
("The Stories We Can Tell").
And as an instrumentalist, primarily playing harmonica, he has
accompanied a wide range of artists including Judy Collins,
Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Doors, Bob Dylan, the Everly
Brothers, Art Garfunkel, Gordon Lightfoot, Laura Nyro, Graham
Parker, Dolly Parton, Peter, Paul & Mary, John Prine, and
Bonnie Raitt. Sebastian played harmonica with The Doors on the
song "Roadhouse Blues" under another name to avoid
problems with his contract, which was featured on Morrison Hotel
album, also played on "Little Red Rooster" on the
live album Alive, She Cried and on seven songs on Live In Detroit.
He is also credited with playing harmonica on Crosby Stills
Nash & Young's "Déjà Vu" from the
album of the same name.
Recently, he has played
with John Sebastian and the J-Band, a jug band including Fritz
Richmond from the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, Yank Rachell, an original
jug-band leader, and Geoff Muldaur. Sebastian and the J Band
appear in the documentary about the roots and influence of jug
band music, Chasin' Gus' Ghost, which screened in August 2007
at the San Francisco Jug Band Festival and made its film festival
debut in October 2007 at the Woodstock Film Festival. In the
film, Sebastian, known widely as a crowd-pleasing storyteller,
humorously explains, with musical accompaniment, how his hit
song "Younger Girl" was inspired by Gus Cannon's "Prison
Sebastian and Grisman, their musical history dates back to college
days at New York University, circa 1963. They made their first
recording together as members of the Even Dozen Jug Band. Finally,
after a 40+ year hiatus, their paths crossed again at a benefit
concert in Mill Valley, California. After this mutually enjoyable
evening of spontaneous music, it became obvious they would continue
collaborating and the result is their new 2007 album, "Satisfied."
In the folk tradition, like Pete Seeger,
Arlo Guthrie, Roger McGuinn, and others, Sebastian continues
to advance in his own musical art while playing and keeping
alive the traditional American forms. From folk to jug band
to blues to his own inimitable American pop, solo or with the
Lovin’ Spoonful, John Sebastian is an American treasure.
& THE AUTOMATICS
and the Automatics is a blues band based in Boston, Massachusetts.
The band is notable for having two former members of the band
Boston, Barry Goudreau on guitar and Sib Hashian on drums. Also
on guitar is Ernie Boch, Jr., CEO and president of Boch Enterprises,
a $1 billion business comprised primarily of automobile dealerships
in Norwood, Massachusetts. Ernie is a graduate of the Berklee
College of Music in Boston and a fan of traditional jazz (bebop)
and modern rock. Tim Archibald plays bass for Ernie and the
Automatics. Tim starred with New Man and has recorded and performed
with Peter Wolf, RTZ, Chris Emerson, Áine Minogue, and
others. Brian Maes started as a member of Orion The Hunter, where he met Brad Delp and Barry Goudreau. All three of them went on to form RTZ.
The band first played at the "Reel
Blues Fest" on August 2, 2006 at the Cape Cod Melody Tent
in Hyannis. They have since opened form many national acts including
Johnny A., Los Lobos, and B.B. King.
Ernie & The Automatics
is Tim Archibald, Bass – Sib Hashian, Drums – Ernie
Boch Jr., Guitars – Barry Goudreau, Guitars – Brian
The Automatics' Web Site