Jorma Kaukonen - vocals, acoustic guitar, dobro; Jack Casady - bass; Paul Kantner - vocals, guitar; Guest: Grace Slick - vocals; Guest: Papa John Creach - violin
Having been apart for nearly a decade when they recorded this show in March of 1988, "Acoustic" (as opposed to Electric) Hot Tuna reunited in the early months of that year and started playing around small coffee house venues in the Bay Area before taking on the newly reopened Fillmore Auditorium. The Fillmore had essentially been Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady's house venue throughout their careers as musicians, so it was a fine slice of nostalgia pie that the reunion of Hot Tuna would be served to the nation from there.
Hot Tuna had first got started in late 1969 as an off-shoot project by Kaukonen and Casady, who had wanted to play traditional acoustic blues and felt they couldn't do so with their main band, Jefferson Airplane. The two musicians had grown up as friends in Washington, D.C., and moved west to San Francisco in the mid-1960s, and had been playing together since a teen rock band called the Triumphs. By 1965, however, as the hippie era had begun to dawn, they found themselves as the lead guitarist and bassist for one of the biggest, most influential bands to emerge from the San Francisco music scene.
Legend has it that the two initially wanted to be call the project Hot Shit, but their label nixed the idea. Regardless, Hot Tuna eventually grew into a five-piece electric ensemble, and released five successful albums on RCA Records. For several years in the 1970s, Jefferson Airplane/Starship and Hot Tuna often shared members, including drummer Johnny Barbata, violinist Papa John Creach and vocalist Marty Balin. Hot Tuna dissolved in 1979, however, with Kaukonen beginning to pursue a solo career and Casady regrouping with Airplane members Paul Kantner and Marty Balin in the KBC Band.
Although they did a few one-shot shows in 1986 and 1987, Acoustic Hot Tuna began working again in earnest together during early 1988; this show is one among their initial high profile gigs of the period. All the classics are here: "I know You Rider" (also a standard for the Dead), "Hesitation Blues," "Bag I'm In," "99 Year Blues" and "Down Home Blues," most of which are either re-workings of traditional blues songs or reinterpretations of songs written by Reverend Gary Davis and Lightin' Hopkins.
This show has a special treat when Kaukonen and Cassidy are joined onstage by former Jefferson Airplane members Paul Kantner and Grace Slick, who offer a stirring version of the Airplane/CSN classic, "Wooden Ships."
Not to be missed.