Concert Review: Roger McGuinn & John Sebastian at Tarrytown Music Hall
It was a fantastic acoustic show of two great folk / rock sixties legends hosted by my buddy Darren Devivo from WFUV. First John Sebastian opened the evening playing a mix of old folk songs & hits from his Lovin’ Spoonful days. In my opinion the Lovin’ Spoonful are such an under rated band. In their brief 3 year history they put out a great collection of songs, covering everything from folk, country, pop, rock & roll & some great John Sebastian ballads.
He grew up in Greenwich Village, playing in the coffee house, bar scene. Eventually finding success in rock & roll & topping the charts with the Lovin’ Spoonful. He wasn’t on the bill to play Woodstock in 1969, but, did a classic acoustic set as a favor after the rains came.
Sebastian’s voice is no longer what it used to be; he struggles through the songs but gets through them vocally. He is still a great musician & a legendary performer. He told stories, in his pleasant style, about the old days & the music surrounding it. He played some folk songs & his classics, “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice” “Daydream” “Nashville Cats” “Younger Girl” “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind” & closed out the set with the great “Darling Be Home Soon” bringing the crowd to its feet.
Next up it was the legendary singer/song writer / guitarist from the Byrds, Roger McGuinn. He came out dressed in all black, with a leather vest & black hat singing “My Back Pages” on his classic electric 12 string Rickenbacher. McGuinn had a small arsenal of guitars on stage with him, set to a backdrop of bonsai trees. He is a talented guitarist & still has a great voice. He told stories about the history of music & his career which began in his hometown of Chicago. He first played with the Limeliters, then Bobby Darin before landing in L.A. & forming the Byrds. He did a fantastic set which included the Byrds classics; “Mr. Spaceman” which he wrote when he found out FM Radio signals go straight out into space. The classic “Turn Turn Turn”, a great acoustic version of “Eight Miles High” which he wrote on an airplane trip, “So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star” “The Bells of Rhymney” “Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man” “Chestnut Mare” & “The Ballad of Easy Ryder”. One of my favorite moments was when he played that 12 string Rickenbacher & sang “Mr. Tambourine Man”- absolutely fantastic!
To close the show two came out together & played a four song set which included “House of the Rising Sun” & Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”. McGuinn sang & played guitar, as Sebastian played the harmonica. He has always been known as one of the world’s best harmonica players. Did you know he played the harmonica on the Doors classic “Roadhouse Blues” under a different name? This was a fantastic show by two great legends that gave us a lot of great music from a wonderful time period.
They told a great story during the final set together about a night back in the mid sixties. They met up late one night in the Village & John Sebastian was wearing tiny round rimmed sun glasses. McGuinn said he stole the look & wore them a couple of years later during the Byrds success. A year later he was hanging out with the Beatles & John Lennon said “what’s with those glasses……….”
I've been to see him, and every generation of The Byrds over the last 45 years at more places and concerts than I could count, or now even remember.
I will continue to be a loyal fan of Roger as long as he keeps playing, and then some.
But as a life long fan I must sadly say, I just wish he would use that darn 7 string Martin much less, and go back to using his 12 string Martin and Rickenbacker guitars much more when in concert.
These days there are plenty of great guitarist out there. IMO many are far better than Roger. But also IMO none better than Roger when he is playing with all 12 strings, electric or acoustic rather than only 7.
I guess I am only saying I want my 12 string Roger back!!! I simply don't hear any "jangle" out of that 7 string Martin :-)