Like many musicians who’ve played Bamboo Room, John Sebastian’s excited about his return tonight to Lake Worth’s uniquely Floridian blues venue. But the former The Lovin’ Spoonful frontman has a closer tie to the LDub than just as a cute entertainment destination.
“I know Lake Worth. I was raised for about a month a year, every year, as a kid about eight blocks from the Bamboo Room,” explains Sebastian, 69. “I love the town. I always have.”
Sebastian’s connection to the town comes through his late grandfather Ben Bisher, a member of the Lake Worth Art League who built his own “shotgun shack” in the town. “He was a cool guy who did a fabulous job.”
Connie Rudy, who was a kid and a fledgling artist at the time, remember Bisher as a nice “white-haired man” who was active in the community and once judged an art contest in Sunset Park that she entered, and was “nice to take us 14-year-olds seriously.”
That wasn’t Bisher’s only connection to the arts community. When he passed away in the 1980s, Sebastian moved a lot of his sculptures up to New York.
“There was a three-foot wooden sculpture of a hand, that he didn’t like all that much,” Sebastian recalls. “It was made out of a hard wood branch that was jointed in such a way that he saw it as a hand. But he started getting students to sign it. What we have here is a relic from the middle ’60s or ’70s, that’s just about covered in names of people from Lake Worth and West Palm. I’m gonna take it with me the next time I drive to Florida, but I’m always flying. It’s gonna take some moving.”
Sebastian actually took over his grandfather’s home, but eventually “had to sell my little teeny square” of Lake Worth decades ago. But the place is still dear to him.
The last time he played at the Bamboo Room, he was not in “Summer In The City” or “Daydream” mode, which he said didn’t matter to owner Russell Hibbard.
“They were friendly to me during a time when I had a jug band, which was not a very big-time pop music move,” he says, chuckling. “But Russell and his family were so great and hired us under those circumstances knowing we were not going to play ‘Do You Believe In Magic.’ We spent a couple of great nights playing along. The feeling was ‘We’re gonna come down here, which is not a Hollywood move, but we’re gonna have some fun.’
“I love a place where I can see the edges of the room,” he continues. “There seems to be these venues that are mostly in the form of a theater that people rebuilt over the years, where a guy or gal leaves town, has a successful career and comes back to town and says ‘I want Roger McGuinn in my little town, so I can rebuild the old movie house.’ The Bamboo Room is a place like that.”
IF YOU GO
When: 9 p.m. today
Where: Bamboo Room, 25 South J Street, Lake Worth