The VIP Lounge with John Sebastian

John Sebastian, founder of the popular 1960s rock band Lovin’ Spoonful, and writer/singer of the theme song to the 1970s sitcom “Welcome Back Kotter,” is coming to Newton next month for a jug band concert to benefit Historic Newton. His band, the Jug Band Giants, also features Geoff Muldaur and Jim Kweskin. Sebastian, 72, was born in New York City and now lives with his wife, Catherine, a photographer, in Woodstock, N.Y. They have two sons and two grandchildren. Sebastian, who played at Woodstock and recorded with everyone from the Doors to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, called the upcoming concert, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 18 at Newton North High School, an “amazing event” that will “bring together three principal guys from different jug bands of the ’60s.” We caught up with Sebastian to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination? I would have to say Italy. From the ages of 5 to 11, every summer my dad, who was a classical musician, would play in Europe. My mom, my brother, and I would stay in the outskirts of Florence. Great memories.

Favorite food or drink while vacationing? Pasta, sushi, and ravioli gnudi. I’m an omnivore.


Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I want to go back to Bruges, Belgium. It is an enchanting city, but I was doing a gig there, so I didn’t get to see anything. I hope to go back someday.

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One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? “Fatty,” my Heritage arch top [guitar].

Aisle or window? Aisle. I like to be near the bathroom so I can pee.

Favorite childhood travel memory? Being given Fernet Branca — a very bitter digestive — on my first trip across the ocean on a boat. I was 5 years old and I remember going from green to fantastic. It worked like a charm.

Guilty pleasure when traveling? Those little tiny bottles of shampoo, conditioner. . . . I always get a stash of toiletries from hotels when I travel.


Best travel tip? To quote Ken Nordine from [his 1957 album] “Word Jazz”: Have a good travel agent.