Hot Tuna is/was Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, the lead guitarist and bass player who broke off from the Jefferson Airplane in 1970 to pursue other interests, originally in acoustic blues. Their first album, recorded live in Berkeley, has been reissued in a deluxe two-disc format and sounds better than ever. The heart of the album consists of traditional blues songs with updated arrangements of numbers by Rev. Gary Davis, Kaukonen’s first musical hero. Kaukonen’s own “Mann’s Fate” closed out the album on a high note.
I saw Hot Tuna — Kaukonen and Casady together with Barry Mitterhoff on mandolin — at the Cedar Cultural Center on the West Bank in Minneapolis when they came through town in 2009. It was an intensely beautiful show. Having played together as long as they have, Kaukonen and Casady have a telepathic yin-yang thing going that you can’t miss.
The Cedar is one of the grungier spots in town to hear live music, but Hot Tuna now returns to one the classiest clubs around for live music. That would be the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis.
Hot Tuna will be playing shows at 7:00 and 9:00 on Monday and Tuesday nights at the Dakota this week. I think tickets are still available online or by calling 612-332-1010. I’ll be there tomorrow night and back on Tuesday if I can make it.
During their 2009 visit they dropped in to the studios of Minnesota Public Radio in downtown St. Paul to play “Hestitation Blues” (video below), one of the many highlights from that first Hot Tuna album.