John Sebastian - guitar, vocals, harmonica
Having recently dissolved his partnership with his very successful 1960s band, the Lovin' Spoonful, John Sebastian's solo career received an unexpected kick-start in August of 1969 at the legendary Woodstock Festival. Sebastian had been living in a tent on the Grateful Dead's ranch at the time, writing new songs that would comprise his first solo album and as is obvious from any photos of him from that era, learning all about tie-dying techniques from the Dead's family and friends. 1970 found Sebastian traveling back and forth across the United States, performing solo acoustic at festivals and college gymnasiums and auditoriums to very enthusiastic audiences. Several of these stripped down performances were recorded, with highlights surfacing the following year on his Cheapo-Cheapo Productions Presents Real Live John Sebastian LP.
This set, which was among those recordings, captures the magic of the night Sebastian performed at the intimate Berkeley Community Theatre and captures him at this transitional point of becoming a solo artist. Several of the new songs featured on his first solo album ("How Have You Been," "Red Eye Express," "Magical Connection" and "Rainbows All Over Your Blues") are performed live, in addition to some of his more introspective later period Lovin' Spoonful songs and a few choice covers. A few vintage Lovin' Spoonful songs also surface in the set and are thoroughly captivating in this stripped down solo acoustic format. Highlights from the Lovin' Spoonful era include popular favorites like "Lovin' You," "Fishin' Blues" and "Daydream." However, Sebastian also gets adventurous by performing lesser known Spoonful material like "Boredom," the humorous and unusual "4 Eyes," as well as the romantically introspective "She's A Lady" and "Darling Be Home Soon." He also performs the title song for the movie soundtrack to You're A Big Boy Now. This set also includes spontaneous performances of some rarely played covers, including "Sitting On Top Of The World," Lonnie Johnson's "I Found A Dream" and one of the first songs he ever learned, "White Convertible" which inspired his own "Rooty Toot."
As this sets so clearly demonstrates, Sebastain was an extremely engaging stage presence and had an innate ability to relate to the audience on a personal level. The early 1970s phase of singer-songwriters in popular music was beginning to take hold and Sebastian was there at the beginning. These sets not only bring back feelings of a long lost era, but also clearly show Sebastian to be one of the most charismatic and captivating singer-songwriters to emerge from a commercially successful 1960s band.