"The Spoonful were not trying to make a big political statement, but celebrated the joy of relationships and everyday living. Hot town summer in the city where it all began." Marlene Yester. Marlene is Jerry's wife and mother of former Lovin' Spoonful, Lena and her sister Hannah. She also worked at the Nite Owl Café in Greenwich Village when the Spoonful was just launching their careers there. It's been 40 years since Marlene worked at the Nite Owl and 40 years since the Spoonful hit the road to earn a living and entertain their fans and we asked her what she thinks contributed to the longevity of those careers.
In 1965 Greenwich Village was the center of the newly emerging "folk-rock" genre and the Nite Owl Café was the place to be seen and heard if you were looking to land a record contract and get publicity. The Spoonful was the first band to get a top ten hit and challenge the chart supremacy of the British invasion and it seemed as though the next step was for the rest of the country and the world had to catch on to what was happening there. "Forty years ago the world changed. Not just the music world but the world itself and everyone in it became a little brighter, sunnier, warmer, closer, happier, effervescent and quite simply a better place to live. Do You Believe In Magic did that bringing it's own special magic to our transistor radios and hi-fi's from Poughkeepsie to Prague, Tarzana to Tokyo." John Einarson music historian, teacher and writer and friend of the band from Winnipeg, Manitoba contributed this and more when asked why he thinks were at 40 and still goin strong. Is it all that simple? When we adopted Good Time Music as our motto I think we all shared the feeling that music could change the world and music that made people feel good about their life could not be a bad thing. " There was nothing quite like the sound of the Lovin' Spoonful before or since." Says John "It was simply 'good time music' and it put a smile on our faces and captivated our ears and eyes(once we got to see them on our TV screens on Shindig or the Ed Sullivan Show)".
Over the last 40 years styles in music have come and gone but for the members of the band we have always had an audience more than happy to come to our shows and sing along and dance to songs that have stayed in the publics notice all these years.
When we asked Joe his feelings at the start of the 40th year he responded: "The Lovin' Spoonful has been making music now for over 40 years. And in the 1960's we really believed we couldn't trust anyone over 30! Well, well time and tide, time and tide. It sure changes things-now I'm not so sure I can trust anyone under 30 (Ha)
40 Years! But in reality, Steve, Jerry and I started writing and playing music about 10 years before the Spoonful came on the scene and made its mark. Steve and I had even worked together in two groups pre-Spoonful. I started playing music at age 12 and by 13 was playing to live audiences.
Actually the three original Spoonful members, Joe Butler, Steve Boone and Jerry Yester still entertaining doing shows today: have about 150 years experience combined-baby oh baby, a century and a half! That's a lot of musical water under the bridge. Which sort of begs the question what have we learned from the countless songs we've played for people all these years.
For myself I guess it comes down to-I learned that, there are really no strangers-just people I haven't met yet who after hearing me sing and play become new friends and of course so many old friends come back time after time to hear us play. We have multi generational audiences. Many families come to share and enjoy the Spoonful show together. My wife, Kim recalls her early Spoonful memories.
'I was first introduced to the Spoonful by my sister. We were going to pick up a pizza at John's Pizza on Bleecker Street and she dragged me across the street to show me the album "Do You Believe In Magic" which was prominently displayed in the window of "The House of Oldies". We became devoted fans. So did my father. He took us to our first Spoonful concert at the Reingold Music Festival in Central Park that summer. And we have all been listening to that timeless music ever since. There is a joy in the Spoonful's music that seems to cross all age barriers and spans the decades without ever seeming dated. It has a freshness I expect we will hear for many years to come'
The extensive and continued airplay of our music keeps bringing our songs to younger and younger folks and they come to see who made this music. To gaze out while performing and see kids singing along with us- kids who know the words perfectly, kids who weren't even born 10 years ago, never ceases to amaze and delight me. Also makes me realize how lucky I am to be doing what I love-bringing our "Goodtime Music" to each new generation. It's a dream come true for me. What a joy and privilege it is to make music for our friends, new and old.
I hope to see you at our next show. I so look forward to it. Bless you all and may this be the year in which your dreams come true.
"They also seem to have more fun on stage now and want to perform and entertain the audience, not just play to them as I remember they did in the 60's" Richard Duryea, formerly the Beach Boys road manager and currently Lovin' Spoonful's manager when asked what he attributes to the enthusiasm that both the audience and the band share during concerts nowadays. It also reflects the reality of no more puffs of smoke coming out from under the door of the dressing room toilet. Richard goes on to say that, "Maybe age has helped Steve, Jerry and Joe, I don't know." Well there is such a thing as too much help although I am sure that we don't have that yet. The Spoonful toured with The Supremes and the Beach Boys early in our careers and that association worked wonders helping to expand our touring area out beyond the New York area at the same time our first "hits" came on the radio nationwide. "They were a good band then. However as the manager of the current Lovin' Spoonful, I must tell you that in my opinion, they are better now, then they were in the 60's. They seem to have a greater appreciation for the audience these days and are constantly working on their show to make it better."
One of the goals for the future is to record an album of new songs written by members of the band. What would the music sound like? This is a good question and it gets back to why the band is still out touring in 2005.
"The group's music is a signature in time for many people. What they were doing, what was going on in their lives is conjured up when they hear the music today. The more memorable the music, the more that phenomenon happens." Jerry Yester, who also agrees with the notion of unfinished business as a common thread that connects the original members to one another and with the seamless integration of Mike Arturi on drums and Phil Smith guitar and vocals the current line up has all the makings of a fine band to make an album of all new songs. So what will it sound like? "It's not rock, blues, folk or whatever, it's everything and that's what keeps it sounding fresh," says Phil who has been with the band four years now and has fit in remarkably well. Mike thinks that "there is much more to the Lovin' Spoonful beyond Summer In The City and Do You Believe In Magic, 'I knew the Spoonful from their main hits, but through the course of learning the show I became a true fan of their music and the styles that make it up'." We'd love to do some roots stuff and maybe some jug band music and the blues always puts the soul in any record. So what it will sound like is probably not far off the original Spoonful sound but you never know what will come out of the studio for the Lovin' Spoonful. We'll keep you posted on the progress of these recordings. Well here goes the start of our 5th decade performing for audiences everywhere. Come and see us if we're in your area and say hello after the show, we've got a cd of our live show and photos to autograph for sale afterward and usually the band will come out and meet the audience for autographs and photos as well.
"I don't know what it is but is sure is something strong" SB