Monday, February 23, 2009


Jorma and Jack play "Embryonic Journey" at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, 1996

Jorma Ludwik Kaukonen Jr first came to our attention playing lead guitar with the San Francisco rock band, Jefferson Airplane. Psychedelic acid rock--you know it well. Jorma Kaukonen helped shape the sound. Listen to that weird loping solo on "White Rabbit." Better yet, listen to the electric guitar on the live version of "Plastic Fantastic Lover" from "Bless its Pointed Little Head."

Lead guitar with the Jefferson Airplane, circa 1966

In 1969, Jorma and fellow bandmate Jack Casady formed Hot Tuna. The band began as a side project where they could explore wild heavy blues, both acoustic and electric. Their early repertoire was derived mainly from American country blues artists such as Rev. Gary Davis, and Arthur Blake (Blind Blake).

Before long, Jorma and Jack left the Airplane completely (the rest of the band became Jefferson Starship...) and concentrated on this "new" old sound. When not playing electric, Jorma was playing an intricate fingerstyle on the acoustic guitar. Watch and listen as Jorma accompanies the melodic line with an alternating thumb pattern, then try playing like that on your own guitar. You may want to bash it to bits, but remember that he didn't learn that fancy stuff overnight.

Hot Tuna in 1972, the year they released "Burgers." Jorma (bottom right) with Jack Casady, Papa John Creach, and Sammy Piazza. Rolling down the blues highway...

Jorma plays "Genesis" at D.O.C. Music Club Studio on Italian TV, 1980

"Uncle Sam Blues," Hot Tuna, featuring Papa John Creach. 1971

Jorma was always a hell of a fingerpicker, and continues to play his intricate patterns with Jack in Hot Tuna. He also teaches guitar at Fur Peace Ranch, a guitar camp in the hills of Southeast Ohio. You just grab your guitar and pack in, stay in a cabin, and play guitar all day. Wouldn't that be cool? There's more to it--just click the link below.

Jorma Kaukonen today

Listen to "I Am the Light of This World" (Rev. Gary Davis) performed by Jorma. Click button:

Explore Jorma's Fur Peace Ranch guitar camp here. Hot Tuna's official website here.

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