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Spoonful bringing 'Magic' to Red Wing stage

Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame band the Lovin’ Spoonful headlines the 2013 Rolling River Music Festival. Jerry Yester (from left), Joe Butler and Steve Boone all performed on the band’s first hit, “Do You Believe in Magic?” Drummer Mike Arturi, who lives in Red Wing, joined in 1996 and Phil Smith (right) has been with the band about 10 years.

By Ruth Nerhaugen, Republican Eagle Contributor

Mike Arturi is as sure as he can be that Red Wing and the Lovin’ Spoonful are going to have a great time together.

Arturi, a Red Wing resident who also travels widely as the drummer for the classic 1960s rock ‘n’ roll band, will join his bandmates on stage at the Central Park Band Shell for a free concert June 29.

The Lovin’ Spoonful headlines the fourth annual 2013 Rolling River Music Festival. The band will take the stage around 8:15 p.m., following two other highly regarded acts and a bonus performance by Arturi’s music students.

In addition to touring with the Spoonful and doing studio work on regular jaunts to Chicago, Arturi also is the founder and leader of the Universal Music Center, a rock-oriented school for young people at the Anderson Center.

The band coming to Red Wing is not a tribute group that plays music made famous by others, he stressed.

“This is the real thing. It’s one of the few bands in the classic rock ‘n’ roll market that has so many original members in it.”

Three of the four Lovin’ Spoonful members were part of the original group, which formed in 1965 when the British invasion dominated the American music scene.

Two rockers from Long Island, N.Y., Steve Boone and Joe Butler, teamed up with a couple of folk musicians from Greenwich Village, John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky, to form a band that created its own sound blending folk and rock.

Their first release, “Do You Believe in Magic?” was the first of many Top 10 hits. Others included “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice,” “Daydream,” “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind,” “Summer in the City,” “Nashville Cats” and more.

Yanovsky and Sebastian left to pursue solo careers, but in 1967 — while the Spoonful was still turning out hits — Jerry Yester joined band leader Boone and Butler as a guitarist/vocalist.

“Jerry was a studio musician and he played piano on the first record,” Arturi pointed out.

The Spoonful separated in the late 1960s but started up again in 1991. Arturi auditioned in 1996 after memorizing the band’s music and Boone, a bass guitarist, hired him on the spot. Butler, who had been the drummer, switched to singing and playing guitar and autoharp. Guitarist/vocalist Phil Smith joined the band about 10 years ago.

The band (, which has been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, does 35 to 40 appearances a year.

Just back from Oregon and West Virginia, Arturi said, they’ll head to Las Vegas and New York City after performing in Red Wing.

“People will hear the real sound performed by the actual musicians who played on those records” when they first were hits, Arturi said. They’ll play all the fan favorites, and will be available after the concert for autographs.

“It’s a show that pleases, he said, adding, “It’s completely family friendly.”

Arturi originally tried to put together a “little run” of Minnesota theaters last spring, and did appear in Austin, but the dates didn’t work out for Red Wing’s Sheldon Theatre. “Next thing I know,” he said, the local group came forward and invited them to headline the summer music festival.

“I was very happy to hear it was going to happen,” he said, predicting that “It’s going to be a great night. … I’m really proud for the town to see the band,” and the band members are looking forward to seeing Red Wing and his music school.

“We always rally behind each other when we play in our respective home towns,” he explained.

Band members will arrive the day before the concert and leave the day after performing so they have a chance to do a little exploring. Arturi plans a special event at the Universal Music Center while they’re in town. From noon to 1:30 p.m. June 29 there’ll be a drum demonstration/clinic and seminar, “How to Start a Band and Get Gigs.”

It’s free and open to anyone who shows up, plus there’ll be giveaways — a backstage pass to the “meet and greet” for the Lovin’ Spoonful, an autographed CD and drumsticks and 20 percent off a school program. More information is available at

Arturi and his wife, Lake City native Lauri Neubert, moved to Red Wing in late 2010 and he opened the Universal Music Center in December 2012. It currently has about 60 students, including a handful of adults. He also runs a live performance experience for adults called “Rock 4 Real” at the MacPhail Center for Music in the Twin Cities.

If you go …

What: Rolling River Music Festival

Who: Davina & the Vagabonds, Ruthie Foster and the Lovin’ Spoonful

When: 5 p.m. Saturday June 29

Where: Central Park Band Shell, Fifth Street and East Avenue, Red Wing

Cost: Free

More info: