FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
A lot of frequently asked guitar, autoharp and harmonica questions are answered in John's teaching materials from Homespun Tapes including John Sebastian Teaches Eight Lovin' Spoonful Hits, John Sebastian Teaches Blues Harmonica, and Learn to Play Autoharp.
Hal Leonard has released The John Sebastian Songbook. This collection features John's commentary on his music, great photos by his wife Catherine, and 29 of his best songs:
Boredom • Coconut Grove • Daydream • Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind? • Do You Believe in Magic • How Have You Been • Jugband Music • Nashville Cats • Rain on the Roof • Six O'Clock • Summer in the City • Welcome Back • Younger Generation • and many more!
We'll be adding new questions from web viewers. While John cannot reply personally, he will see all your questions and will respond in this page to those of most interest.
Click here to send your questions.
I've heard John on some TV shows. How does he get hired for that?
John did the theme for Welcome Back Kotter and the theme for the children's show That's Cat. In both cases he got a call from the producers asking if he would be interested. For Kotter, they explained the show and he came up with the song. For That's Cat he recorded the basic track and then had the TV crew come into the studio and tape them doing the rest of the tracks. His son Benson, three-and-a-half at the time, sang on the chorus. John also did a lot of theme music for the animators at Nelvana, which produces childrens' shows. He worked on Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears 1 and 3. John loved working with Nelvana. When they did The Devil and Daniel Mouse they had John into the cartoonist's studio so that they could watch his fingers move on the neck and strings of the guitar. Maybe the first time a character, albeit a three fingered one, was actually playing the right way.
What's that black archtop you play?
That instrument is a '93 Heritage Eagle made by those real guitar makers from Kalamazoo, Michigan. The guitar has been steadily on the road since they built it for me, finally replacing "The Fish", a 1970 Lucien Barnes advanced jumboish acoustic-electric that played every festival but Woodstock.
What's the weird electric with the long neck?
That's the latest evolution of the baritone guitar made by Harvey Citron out of Woodstock, New York.
What kind of harmonica do you play?
For the last ten years I've played mostly Hohner Meisterclasse harmonicas. Recently I began sending Marine Band models to my favorite customizer, James Gordon, in Bellows Falls, NY. These instruments come back re-tuned and tightened with extra mojo sauce!
How come that tiny amp sounds so huge?
We don't know what AER puts in those little acoustic amps. I get the feeling that if they told me, they'd have to kill me.
When is the album of you and Dave coming out?
The Sebastian/Grisman project, Satisfied, is now available from Acoustic Disc.
What about the really old J-Band album, I Want My Roots?
That first J-Band album is currently out of print. However, it can be found online at Amazon. It includes performances by Jimmy Vivino, James Wormworth, Fritz Richmond, Paul Rishel, Annie Raines, Rory Block, and, yes, the original blues mandolin man, Yank Rachel.
From classical music fans: Where can I get records by the "real" John Sebastian (John's dad)?
Unfortunately, the world's greatest classical harmonica virtuoso, heralded as "The Paganini of the harmonica" is not currently available on CD. We're left looking for Heliodor reissues of the Tcherupnin concerto or the Villa-Lobos. Music Masters is considering re-issuing, but if that doesn't work, stay tuned to see if we can put it out on that famous record company, JB's CDs!