Hot Tuna was more like Warm Tuna, but that’s still better than No Tuna at all. Rock Royalty Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady at age 74 and 71 respectively have nothing more to prove but they still leave everything they have on the stage. The Variety Playhouse lights came down at 8:30 for an 8:00 show as our duo emerged , amidst rumors that an opening act was scheduled but could not make it. That was fine with me. With rare exception, opening acts usually suck.
I have seen the acoustic version of Hot Tuna several times, but when Electric Hot Tuna was announced I jumped on a ticket right away. Jack’s electric bass on those old blues standards is what Tuna is all about. Barry Mitterhoff has been a fixture on mandolin with this group, and he is quite the virtuoso, but for some reason he wasn’t coming through very well on this Friday night. I couldn’t tell if it was him or a bad mix, but the high notes weren’t clean at all. The band played two sets, but the intermission was relatively short. Jorma has a new release entitled Ain’t In No Hurry and he treated us to the title track. Here’s a guy who produces new material when he could just sit back and rest on his laurels. I admire that.
A tune that got the crowd energized was Water Song from the Burgers release. It is one of my favorite Tuna songs. All it needed was the violin of Papa John (RIP 1994). Another crowd pleaser was Good Shepherd from the Airplane’s Volunteers, a traditional hymn arranged to what Jorma calls a psychedelic folk song.
Until the next concert, it’s time for my boot heels to be wanderin’. George Ford