Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Smiling Voice

I was writing away the other evening when John Sebastian and the Lovin' Spoonful came on the feed from Folk Alley. For the 45 years or so that he's been in my awareness, I have always perked up and smiled when he started to sing. It almost didn't matter which song it was, his voice smiles. Whether it was "Hot time, summer in the city" or "Daydream" I could hear the joy in his voice. Then after seeing him on TV or(now) in video, there is that attitude he presents. You can't help but smile along with him.

Today my first thought is that it was simply the tenor of the times, tie-dyed shirts, bell-bottoms, granny glasses and some natural substances. But watching these videos and remembering the style of music, I think it's more than the times. It truly is in the music and the fun he brings to the performance.

Here's another one that brings that same joy to life:

One of the roots of Sebastian's music is the "jug band." According to Wikipedia:

A jug band is a band employing a jug player and a mix of traditional and home-made instruments. These home-made instruments are ordinary objects adapted to or modified for making of sound, like the washtub bass, washboard, spoons, stovepipe and comb & tissue paper (kazoo).
Jug bands were an important part of the folk revival of the late 50s and early 60s in Greenwich Village and Boston. (The era of the Coen Brothers Inside Llewyn Davis!) Sebastian was involved in some of that.

As recently as 1995 he was still working on jug band style. Here's a video from Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

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