Few musical journeys spanned as long and varied as Jorma and Jack's. As pioneers of the premier San Francisco electric sound with Jefferson Airplane, something else much bigger was meant to spawn and thrive for decades to come. Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady have held the foundations of their lifelong band and partnership Hot Tuna together for over forty-three years.
Hot Tuna’s show provides quality without question! Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady have created a sound with an underlying, propelling drive which carries their audience along on a musical trip. Alongside Jorma and Jack is multi-instrumentalist and mandolin wizard Barry Mitterhoff and, when electric, defining the rhythm and setting the beat drummer is Skoota Warner.
On Friday night the Oriental Theater in Denver saw a stout admission line abuzz with anticipation for the evening’s acoustic Hot Tuna performance. No opening act. No excess equipment up on stage (aside from mandolin player Barry Mitterhoff’s rack of stringed instruments). Just Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady and Mitterhoff, three chairs and mic stands.
It was sometime in the early 90s when I first heard Hot Tuna. One of the older hippie kids in my neighborhood who used to flow me Dead tapes (and weed) said "hey man, you dig Hot Tuna?" I was the furthest thing from hip to what he was saying, and probably replied with something along the lines of "I don't know them." He said something like "shit, you don't know Tuna.
It was Jorma Kaukonen’s big San Francisco homecoming on his current tour with G.E. Smith. Kaukonen, who grew up to be an accomplished guitar player in Washington D.C., moved to San Francisco just in time for the psychedelic rock of the sixties, and was one of the founding members of Jefferson Airplane; San Francisco’s golden fleece of psychedelic rock in the 60s. Since Jefferson Airplane, Kaukonen’s career has taken a far left turn in another direction.
We young people tend, for whatever reason, to badmouth those who are significantly older than us. Maybe it's a fear of getting old ourselves that elicits this response, maybe it's a feeling of self-righteous know-it-all-ism, but what we tend to forget is that a great many things in this life get better with age. Wine does, some cheese does, canned tuna does not, but Hot Tuna certainly does.