Don’t be surprised if Jorma Kaukonen’s solo act feels a teensy bit like Hot Tuna. Only a single constant remains, however, from the venerable Jefferson Airplane offshoot: Barry Mitterhoff and the kitchen sink. “People always wonder about this stuff,” Kaukonen said of the potential confusion over his solo shows. “Barry and I started playing together eleven years ago. In fact he played with me before we co-opted him into Hot Tuna.” Acclaimed finger-style blues guitarist Kaukonen plays a Nov 15 acoustic show at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo. Multi-instrumentalist Mitterhoff--octave mandolin, tenor banjo, tenor guitar--gives Kaukonen the jump needed to cover all the elemental styles of American music. “Barry and I play a bunch of songs we don’t play with Hot Tuna” Kaukonen said. “He sings a little bit more and we do some of his songs." Kind of like Hot Tuna but not really. Clearly the omission of Tuna bassist Jack Casady gives into the latter. Kaukonen meanwhile sounds unfazed. “The good news is we do things a little bit differently when Jack’s not here—obviously--because Jack has such a huge musical presence.” When Kaukonen was getting ready to do River of Time, his most recent solo record, people asked him why he didn’t get Casady to play bass. Kaukonen replied, well, then it's just a Hot Tuna record. This sentiment carries over to Kaukonen’s solo tours. “When I do a solo show the emphasis is on my songwriting instead of the dynamic interaction between Jack and myself.” An integral part of the Kaukonen’s musical posse riding along this week to Kalamazoo is guitarist/lap steel player Steve Kimock. “Kimock is arguably one of the great living guitar players in the world today,” Kaukonen said. “The thing that makes him a great fit in almost any setting is that his musical sensibilities are really flawless. When he’s sitting in with us he does his own thing but it's within our context. Steve does a lot of different things. He plays everything so well it's as if that was his bag.” Sure he gets out and gigs around solo and with Hot Tuna but Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch music camp in southeastern Ohio is really his focus as of late. The camp teaches kids and adults of all ages on weekends March through November. Hot Tuna last week played the closing weekend for this year. Instructors and performers have included Roger McGuinn, John Hammond, and Mary Gauthier. Fur Peace even has its own NPR radio program on WOUB-FM. Kaukonen is taking Fur Peace on the road again to San Diego early next year. “We have something for everybody,” Kaukonen said of the learning experience. “A single person or a family can participate in the workshops; some can do the workshop and others hang on the beach or take a walk to SeaWorld.”
Jorma Kaukonen at Bell's Brewery on Nov 15 at 9:30pm.
Tickets available at Bell's website
Learn more about the Fur Peace Ranch at furpeaceranch.com
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