Hot Tuna Acoustic & Electric
About Hot Tuna Acoustic & Electric
Begun as an acoustic spinoff of the Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna eventually became the full-time focus of founding members Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen, emerging as a popular touring act of the 1970s. The two were lifelong friends, growing up together in Washington, D.C., and playing in the group the Triumphs. After high school, guitarist Kaukonen and his government-service parents relocated to the Philippines, but he returned to the U.S. in time for the advent of psychedelia, landing in San Francisco and co-founding the Airplane in 1965. Bassist Casady joined not long after, and together they helped lead the group to massive success during the late ’60s.
Hot Tuna — originally dubbed Hot Sh*t, much to the chagrin of their label, RCA — first began taking shape in 1969, while both Casady and Kaukonen were still active members of the Jefferson Airplane; in fact, their first performances were sandwiched between regular Airplane gigs. As a trio rounded out by harmonica player Will Scarlet (and occasionally including Airplane members Marty Balin and Spencer Dryden), Hot Tuna debuted in 1970 with a low-key self-titled LP of traditional blues and ragtime recorded live at the New Orleans House in Berkeley; by the following year’s more rock-inspired First Pull Up, Then Pull Down, their roster included violinist Papa John Creach, concurrently a full-time member of the Airplane, and drummer Sammy Piazza. Minus Scarlet, a third album, Burgers, appeared in 1972.
By the appearance of 1974’s The Phosphorescent Rat, both Casady and Kaukonen had officially exited Jefferson Airplane; by this time Creach, who elected to remain with the Airplane, was no longer in the group. With 1975’s America’s Choice, Piazza too was gone, replaced by drummer Bob Steeler; Yellow Fever appeared that same year, with Hoppkorv following in 1976. Keyboardist Nick Buck signed on for 1978’s Double Dose, but Hot Tuna subsequently announced their breakup, closing out the first phase of their career with 1979’s Final Vinyl.
In the wake of the group’s demise, Kaukonen released a solo LP, Jorma, and later joined the new wave unit Vital Parts; Casady also fronted a new wave group of his own, SVT. In 1984, both returned to their roots: Casady joined fellow Airplane alums Balin and Paul Kantner in the KBC Band, while Kaukonen reverted to the acoustic folk and blues of his formative years. Finally, Casady and Kaukonen played a handful of club dates under the Hot Tuna aegis, re-forming on a more concrete basis in 1986; by 1990, their ranks included singer/multi-instrumentalist Michael Falzarano, a veteran of many early reunion shows.
That year Hot Tuna released Pair a Dice Found, their first collection of new studio material in over a decade; a series of live releases followed, including 1992’s Live at Sweetwater, 1997’s Splashdown Two, and 1999’s And Furthurmore…. In the years to follow, Hot Tuna continued to play several live shows a year in various configurations. A single-disc best-of from the RCA years, Keep on Truckin’, was released in 2006. The group’s first studio album in 20 years, Steady as She Goes, recorded at Levon Helm’s studio in Woodstock, New York, and produced by Larry Campbell, was released on Red House Records in 2011.
“Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady are without question in the discussion about who are among the greatest musicians; each has distinguished himself by developing a style that is easy to pick out and that others often try to imitate. But more importantly, Kaukonen, and Casady, have over time forged a partnership that’s as vital to their art as raw talent is. The duo use music to speak a language they seemingly invented, yet cannily allow the rest of us in on the exhilarating dialogues.” – The Art Fuse
“Hot Tuna is a Psychedelic-Blues Institution” – Rolling Stone Magazine
Hot Tuna, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, perform with a well-honed and solid power – always in the groove from years of experience and mutual inspiration. Started as a side project during their Jefferson Airplane days, the constant, the very definition of Hot Tuna, has always been Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady. The two boyhood pals have never wavered in one of the most enduring friendships in Rock history.
From their days playing together as teenagers in the Washington, DC area, through years of inventive psychedelic rock in San Francisco (1996 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees), to their current acoustic and electric blues sound, no one has more consistently led American music for the last 50 years than Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, the founders and continuing core members of Hot Tuna. At the 2016 Grammys, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards.
“Jorma Kaukonen is a force in American music, equally adept at fingerpicked acoustic folk and blues as he is at wailing on an electric.” – Acoustic Guitar
Guitarist and vocalist, Jorma Kaukonen is a highly respected interpreter of roots music, blues, Americana, and popular rock-and-roll. Jorma’s repertoire goes far beyond psychedelic rock; he is a music legend and one of the finest singer-songwriters in music. Jorma tours the world bringing his unique styling to old blues while writing new songs of weight and dimension.
“Jack Casady is virtually unparalleled–and yet he has one of the most truly unique electric-bass voices in rock…he can melt into a supportive role but when opportunity knocks, he bursts forth with creative lines–both simple and ornate–that are unlike any you’ve heard” – Premier Guitar
One of the most unique innovators in the sixty-year history of the bass guitar, Jack Casady made his sweeping melodic mark helping to create the “San Francisco Sound” with legendary rock group Jefferson Airplane. Jack went on to track with Jimi Hendrix, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Warren Zevon, members of the Grateful Dead, John Lee Hooker, and Gov’t Mule. Casady, regarded as one of rock’s greatest bassists, is certainly one of its most original.
“For a band that traces its roots back to 1969, Hot Tuna can still bring the heat. Not only did they tackle songs from their wide catalog and long career, but they also showed the audience that they still have fun doing it. Jack Casady stomped around the stage totting a bass that is about the same size as him while Jorma Kaukonen lit a fuse and transformed his guitar into a firework.” – Live For Live Music
“Been So Long is a survivor’s tale, well told and sprinkled with a bit of 1960s fairy dust.” — Wall Street Journal
“Jefferson Airplane guitarist Kaukonen’s candid and affectionate memoir resembles the rambling and free-flowing road trips he enjoys…. A mesmerizing storyteller, Kaukonen delivers a memoir as intricate and dazzling as his music.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review
“It’s not only exciting, it’s deeply honest, and it’s full of experiences and thoughts … amazing and timeless!”
—Uli Twelker, GoodTimes
“an incredibly insightful look inside the life of a musician who was not only influenced by some of America’s greatest music but who also left an indelible mark on that very same musical landscape.” – AXS
“It is thoughtful, insightful and downright fun.” —Jesse Finkelstein, Blues Radio International