Hot Tuna: Acoustic & Electric Celestial Blues

Hot Tuna's story is
an interesting one. Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, having secured a position
with a new group, Jefferson Airplane, called back east to his high school friend, Jack Casady, in the hope of finding a bass player. Casady assured him he was the man for the job, and, after hanging up the phone, Kaukonen hoped Casady wouldn't embarass him once rehearsals began.

Not only did Cassidy provide the bottom to the Airplane's sound, he went on to play with other noted musicians of the era. That's Casady's thundering bass opening up Voodoo Chile from Hendrix's Electric Ladyland (with Steve Winwood on keyboards), the two having first met at 67's Monterey Pop Festival where they jammed backstage for hours.

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The first Hot Tuna date was simply a diversion for Kaukonen and Casady, neither having any idea that it would lead to a collaboration that has far surpassed anything the two could have achieved with the Jefferson Airplane. Thankfully that original acoustic set was recorded and is still one of our favorites, much of the Hot Tuna songbook being timeless. And if you were put off by the addition of violinist Papa John (S)Creach, fear not—he appears on only two Hot Tuna releases.

We wanted to play a style of music that
wasn't being played by the Airplane.

Jack Casady interview

Floydian Slips finally caught up with Hot Tuna at the “Salty” Gebhardt Amphitheatre in Truckee, CA, an idyllic outdoor venue. (Have you ever wondered where all of the tie-dyed flower children went?) With Barry Mitterhoff on mandolin, the group played a terrific acoustic set before sundown. After dark, everyone plugged in (crowd inclusive) as drummer Erik Diaz joined in. The rest of the evening we were treated to some rockin', Casady's bass notes
r-r-r-rumbling up through our feet as we danced (we kid you not).

Then there's the DVD, Electric Hot Tuna—Live At the Fillmore, recorded in 1996. This is also a great set, with Pete Sears joining the tunas on keyboards. Worth your while, this listener was left wanting for much more bass response, Casady seemingly turned down in the mix.

Wolfgang's Vault - Reissue

Various Hot Tuna lineups continue to tour almost 40 years and 27 albums after the group's inception. Both musicians also have numerous other projects: Kaukonen has yet another new solo album out and Casady occasionally appears with the group, Moonalice (get free MP3s at the group's website). Yet somehow both find time to provide lessons at Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch (Pomeroy, OH) which doubles as a concert venue for many artists. Tune in here at 7:00 pm Eastern time to listen to Friday night's performance.

Dedicated fans may also purchase complete shows in MP3 format from this Hot Tuna download site.