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Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Rita Houston Sept. 28, 1961-December 15, 2020

December 15th, 2020 16 comments

I got back from my first road trip in quite a while yesterday. I had four shows at the Vogel in Red Banks and it was indeed a wonderful moment to be able to again do what it is that I have done for so long… play for people. Home last night sheltering in place in our Athens house while I waited for my Coved-19 test today… so far so good.

I’m driving to the auto parts store to get windshield wipers for my truck and Vanessa called me to tell me that Rita Houston from WFUV just passed today. This sad news touched me in a profound way. I had known Rita for many years. Artists such as myself are fortunate to have deejays such as Rita for a friend. We didn’t hang. It wasn’t that kind of a friendship but every time I would see at WFUV or less often at a gig, she was an old friend.

Memory sometimes washes me like smoke from a campfire. It surrounds you in an untouchable, diaphanous kind of way. Some things stick to your clothes and others drift to the next camp site. I am fortunate that most of the people who surround me are younger than me. That forces me to look forward more than backwards although indeed, there is more behind me than there is in front of me.

Old friends pass and the world becomes a little smaller. They can never be replaced. Smaller though the world might seem today, the road ahead is still inviting.

Rita was such a part of my time. She was a beacon in the dark continent of modern media. It seems as if my family is just a little smaller.

There’s sure to be a great play list in heaven today!

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

Milestones

December 8th, 2020 16 comments

Milestones

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Yesterday, December 7, 2020 was Vanessa’s and my thirty second wedding anniversary. One has to wonder sometimes if there is any reason for why things evolve the way they do or of Brownian motion is the sum of all things. In the last analysis I’m not sure that it matters one way or the other although it would be nice if life’s moments were to fit neatly into a box.

Since they don’t it’s probably at the very least a minor miracle that couples not only stay together but that they do so out of not only love but unforeseen commitment. At the end of each day the roll call of events is a testament to almost divine synchronicity. With this in mind I am so grateful that my family is intact. The fourteen year addition of our daughter Izze is another one of those amazing blessings that surround our lives with light. How good does it have to get?

There was another milestone for me when I woke this morning. Chuck Yeager passed yesterday at 97. When I was a kid I thought I wanted to be a lot of things. I looked up to my grandfather Ben who was a research bacteriologist. ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I might be asked. ‘I want to be a scientist like my grandfather,’ was the reply. My grandfather had all kinds of cool looking stuff he would show me in his lab. Microscopes, exotic glass things, tubing, stainless steel items… I guess I figured when I got older all that stuff would somehow come to me and then I’d be a scientist. Reality wakes you from your dreams like it or not and still at that young age it became apparent that to be a scientist was more than possessing gadgets. There was math involved and more.

It was not for me.

One of the other careers that was not for me was to be a famous pilot. Growing up in the 40’s what kid my age didn’t want to be a pilot. To soar above the earth at unimaginable speeds doing unimaginable things… well, a lofty set of goals indeed.

Back in the 40’s I was growing up in the D.C. area where my dad was still working at the Department of Labor. The District Of Columbia, city of museums, had much to offer for a kid like me. The crown jewel was the Smithsonian air museum. Now it is the National Air and Space Museum. Back then it was less than that and in a way more. I took the bus and the trolley from Chevy Chase circle down to 600 Independence Ave. by myself  which in itself was an exciting feat for a kid who wasn’t even ten years old yet.

The Bell X-1 was there hanging from the ceiling. Chuck Yeager had just broken the sound barrier for first time and even though it was kept secret at the time ultimately Chuck was publicly honored and the Bell X-1 was hung for all to see. For some reason my house of memories has a room in which I actually saw Chuck Yeager at the Museum, but I probably just imagined it for so long that I came to believe it. In any case, in an era when I would write to aircraft companies and request photos of their cool planes to hang on the wall, my photo of the X-1 in my bedroom was as exciting as imagining a trip to the International Space Station.

I remember picking up my friend Michael Falzarano once at the Yeager International Airport in Charleston, West Virginia. Yeager’s memory alive and well in Charleston was a fine thing to behold.

So, December 7, 2020… Pearl Harbor, Chuck Yeager’s passing and Vanessa’s and my 32nd wedding anniversary. In the last analysis today, obviously the latter is foremost in my mind, but they are all in the mix in the heart of this old guitar player.

Happy anniversary Vanessa. You are not only an angel, you are my angel. And Chuck, rest in peace. You were a part of my life and in a way you still are!

PS On another note, does anyone know which Quarantine Concert Jack and I played Things That Might Have Been. I know we did it, but I screwed up the set list… I think. Help appreciated and thanks in advance. ( That would be in the most recent shows Jack and I did.)

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Thursday Interlude

May 7th, 2020 35 comments

Back porch view, with Campfire Coffee

Back porch view, with Campfire Coffee

Foto by jorma Kaukonen

33 degrees here at the homestead but clear. Given some of the alternatives a lovely if chilly spring day. Just finishing my second cup of Jorma Kaukonen’s Campfire Blend Coffee. I actually had a dentist appointment yesterday and today a scheduled checkup. I’ve been pretty much existing in my own bubble with Vanessa insisting on being my liaison with the world. With gloves and mask I even stopped by Krogers and picked up some stuff. Interesting to say the least. Now I live in a rural somewhat sparsely populated area so our daily normal is nothing like the reality my friends in the Northeast endure. That said, I don’t want people standing close to me and I consider people who have chosen not to wear masks in public utterly inconsiderate and there are such people. Take risks with your own life… don’t threaten mine.

The touring concert business is utterly gone at least for the rest of the year. Obviously we must wait to see what happens. I suspect the ‘new normal’ will be new and anything but normal as we know it today. Like so many, I and my colleagues are out of work. And so that goes. That we are able to bring you all our weekly Quarantine Concert live from the Fur Peace Ranch means the world to us!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bok1vPD9y5w&feature=youtu.be

This is truly our connection to the world and we are grateful for it.

From my not so lofty peak we are alive and still well. It could be worse for us and with that in mind, I try to minimize my complaining as hard as that is sometimes. Thinking positively and believing that at some point the Fur Peace Ranch will be open again, we are able to continue not only the upkeep of the infrastructure but also but also the making of improvements. Our very own Smiles is a busy beaver and some new walkways are under way. I have been spending more time in a true practice environment with my music than I have in years. Working gigs is not practice. The challenge of keeping the repertoire fresh for the streaming shows each week is more than stimulating. I’ll take the win.

The current situation robs us of time which can never be replaced. As a 79 year old I feel this loss more profoundly than I imagine my kids do, and that is as it should be. This is their time to be young and thank goodness they cannot walk in an old man’s shoes. My grandparents were born in the late 1800’s. When they were our kid’s age they were fleeing the pogroms of Czarist Russia and the bleakness of Finland when it was a Grand Duchy of Russia. Yeah, it could be worse.

The cold snap today is, well… cold, but at least the sun is shining. Time to walk the dogs, feed the other critters, empty the dehumidifiers, get some breakfast, play some guitar and suit up for my doctor’s appointment. Oh yeah, spend a little more time on the set list for Saturday.

There may be better times down the road, but I’ll take what I’ve got for today!

Zammy and Azlan in the garden

Zammy and Azlan in the garden

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Now here’s two being who know how to iive!

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

The Bridge

April 25th, 2020 28 comments

No… not Sonny Rollins’ Bridge, but ours here at the Fur Peace Ranch.

Not Terabithea either!

Not Terabithea either!

Drone shot by Jorma Kaukonen

Isolation depends on the environment I guess. We’ve got room to roam.

Up river

Up river

Drone shot by Jorma Kaukonen

It’s been the first moments of warm sun here for while so it was nice to just get out, park the mule by the Shade River and walk a bit.

As summer approaches, the water will be gone

As summer approaches, the water will be gone

Drone shot by Jorma Kaukonen

When you live in he country you learn to accept what nature gives you.

Nice Smiles!

Nice Smiles!

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Nessa looks for Morels. Good luck. 🙂

Where are those shrooms?

Where are those shrooms?

Drone shot by Jorma Kaukonen

I used to be able to find morels at the old homestead. I have yet to find one here.

Well, we’ve got to get it together for another streaming show for the Fur Peace Station so we headed back up the road with the Mule.

The old farm road back up to the FPR plateau

The old farm road back up to the FPR plateau

Foto by jorma Kaukonen

This old road goes back to the early 1800’s and there is some cool graffiti etched into the rocks.

Back at the A-Frame, Vanessa climbs the steps the Smile’s son Eli built. This was a man’s work, I’m telling you!

Who needs a stair climber?

Who needs a stair climber?

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

OK Back at the Ranch I placed some cool acoustic guitars. Which ones to play?

We’ll see.

Talk about blessings...

Talk about blessings...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Quick music note: Tango El Bongo by George Van Eps, anything by Charlie Byrd, anything by Larry Willis, great keyboard player who passed away recently.

Back to the present:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pImqCWpu_Hw

There’s our link for tonight.

See ya later

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

The Cost Is Relentless

April 24th, 2020 22 comments

Portrait of the artist in modern mufti

Portrait of the artist in modern mufti

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

During this time of pandemic stress none of us are untouched. My family and I are still healthy by the grace of G_d and aside from hemorrhaging money I am only losing time. The money I can make back if I love long enough… the time is gone forever. This is a statement of fact not a whining complaint. Believe me, I know it could truly be a lot worse. I was going down to my little studio today to get some guitars I will be using tomorrow for our Eight PM show (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pImqCWpu_Hw) and I had Fresh Air on NPR coming at me from my truck radio. I found out the Lee Konitz, the great sax player, composer, improvisationist and more passed away on April 15, 2020 at the age of 92. Like so many, he was felled by the Corona Virus. In 1963 when I had barely been in California for a year I had a friend named Steve Schuster who I met through my brother. Steve was really the first true jazz cat I ever met and he probably doesn’t know this, but whatever free music spirit I have been able to cultivate may well have started with him. In any case, Steve, Paul Kantner, David Frieberg, Sherry Snow and a gaggle of others were all circulating in the South Bay at this time. We were always trying to find interesting things to listen to. Steve found out that Lee Konitz was playing weekly in a pizza place somewhere nearby and he allowed that this was an artist I needed to hear. Pizza and beer and world class jazz… what’s not to like?

I’m not a jazz musician and I have no aspiration to become one. It’s a little late in the game to be changing horses in midstream but I have always admired the disciplined freedom that good jazz offers. However you want to categorize what it is that I do, most of the time I play songs and songs, by their nature, have to be the way they have to be. In Jefferson Airplane so many years ago my colleagues brought beautiful and outlandish asymmetrical music to the table and allowed me to simply blow until I found a part that fit, and a song was born. I think that listening to Lee in that pizza joint showed me live and in real time what could be accomplished with a tune.

It’s been many years since I listened to Lee but I was shocked and saddened to find he was gone. I think sometimes we expect the pillars of our youth to always be with us. It looks like his last recording was in 2018 on Verve with Dan Tepfer. Good stuff Lee! At the end of the Fresh Air segment the Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead talked about Lee as the master of ‘The long, lucid improvised line!’

Wow…

Time to go back to the record collection.

Maverick, in splendiferous, familial isolation.

Maverick, in splendiferous, familial isolation.

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

We are losing good ones every day…

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

Thoughts On A Wednesday

April 22nd, 2020 43 comments

From my back porch...

From my back porch...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Chilly but beautiful here at the Ranch this morning. Walking the dogs on this frosty April morning gave me plenty of time to think, as always. I value freedom of expression… it’s one of the many things that make this country great. I’ve talked about this before. I do not want or expect everyone to agree with me. As my old Harrisonville neighbor, Larry Vance said on more than on occasion, ‘Jorma, if we wuz all the same, what a boring world it would be!’ Words of wisdom for sure. In this strange virtual world that all of us inhabit so much of the time I guess there’s a time and a place for everything. I will not tolerate ad hominem fallacy attacks on me or anyone else on my site and I reserve the right to vet a priori judgments. Hey, that’s just the way it is. I don’t proselytize or preach to you guys so please don’t do it to me or to each other in this site.

Vis a vis the spirit of the 60’s, we could talk forever about this. Wavy Gravy and the Seva Foundation (Founded by Ram Dass) more than walked the walk since the 60’s. Jefferson Airplane was not really a hippy band as I would describe it. As independent as we were, we managed to do battle with and function within the boundaries that the recording business proscribed in those days. Artists are so much freer in this time, but that’s another story. The Airplane and later Hot Tuna did countless free shows and benefits. We also bought houses and vehicles. We were, in the truest sense of the word, an American success story.

What does this all mean to me? Listen, it’s interesting but ancient history. My ability to be a husband to my wife and a father to my two children is where the rubber meets the road today. As a 79 year old guitarist, that I am still able to function at an acceptable level is more than a blessing. That I still have the health I have… well, nuff said on that. My Higher Power treats me better than I deserve but I’ll take it.

Anyway, it’s Earth Day today and where I live, it couldn’t be more beautiful. That’s the real deal! Last but not least, every one is entitled to their own opinion but no one has a right to be factually wrong. I don’t need some outsider to tell me what I think, who I am, or what I really mean.

Today is really the only moment we have.

Make it a good one!

The view from my back porch

The view from my back porch

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Hot Tuna, Thoughts Tags:

What A Difference A Year Makes

April 17th, 2020 25 comments

April 15, 2019 Ray Hurlbut’s time on earth was over. It seems hard for me to imagine that this year has passed so quickly. Ray was John, our Ranch Manager’s dad and he is survived by his daughter Marylou, sons John and Pete plus grandchildren and great grandchildren. At the time of his passing he was one of the oldest surviving WWII vets in the State Of Ohio. He was a really great guy, and he was my friend! From December 18, 1921 to April 15, 2019… what can you say? At 97 he had a heck of a run.

Nessa and I got to visit him a couple of days before he passed and it was an honor to spend time with an old friend. A day after we visited him in Lancaster our buddies Wally and Cat paid him a visit and he sent me a message through them.

‘Tell my brother Jorma I’ll be saving him a seat next to me on the stage… but tell him not to rush.’ That was Ray.

I’ll do my best Ray.

Rest easy!

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Another Evening From The Fur Peace Ranch And Easter Sunday

April 12th, 2020 24 comments

Alone at the Ranch. The POW/MIA flag is in tatters. Waiting for the new one to come.

Alone at the Ranch. The POW/MIA flag is in tatters. Waiting for the new one to come.

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

So here it is on an overcast Easter morning. Our family celebrated Passover in our own way here at home. Vanessa and her sister Ginger took Easter to their mom, Virginia who is in a rehab facility recovering from a fall. The girls will be outside Ginny’s window with decorations, signs and well wishes. That’s just how it is here in Southeast Ohio and I imagine everywhere there are people with common sense.

Well, we had our second edition of our Saturday Night WWC concert series last night and we had a great time sending it out to through the ether. I want to thank Myron Hart for leaving his lair in Johnson Hollow to do sound and production and Andie Walla for leaving her infant son at home with dad to do for us what she does so well: direct and produce video! Our daughter Izze ran the long shot camera again and did a pro job. Thanks Izze! Of course major thanks and kudos go to Vanessa, without whom none of this would be possible. Love you girl… always! Our Ranch Manager, John Hurlbut made the 20 some mile trek from his home on the other side of the county to Join me for a song. I’ve have to pleasure and honor to accompany John over the last who knows how many years. Tonight he and I wanted to play a song honoring John Prine, may his memory be a blessing. We picked Angel From Mongomery. Many thanks for this John… on many levels brother. I’d also like to thank the many folks who donated money last night. We will use this to keep the production going until the war is over. Your collective generosity is muchly appreciated!

OK… here’s the set list:

Jorma Kaukonen 2, 2020
#2 Of The Quarantine Concert Series
Live From The Fur Peace Ranch
Fur Peace Station
Darwin, Ohio
Saturday, April 11, 2020

1. Second Chances
2. Ice Age
3. I’ll Be All Right Some Day
4. Trouble In Mind
5. Living In The Moment
6. Sleep Song
7. Genesis
8. Angel From Montgomery with John Hurlbut
9. Death Don’t Have No Mercy
10. I Am The Light Of This World
11. What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?
12. Embryonic Journey (using my original J-50. Guitar and mike. no electronic BS)

That’s about it for this grey Sunday. We’ve got some fun stuff to break out next Saturday and I’m sure we’ll be chatting as the week evolves.

Stay well…

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

A Trip To The Market On State Street

April 11th, 2020 22 comments

Doing what we must...

Doing what we must...

Selfie by Vanessa Kaukonen

Saturday morning… our daughter Izze is still asleep. (Every night is movie night here. Night before last was Dogma. Last night was Inception.) Nessa and I climbed in my truck and we headed into town to Farmer’s Market on State Street. I’ve take some motorcycle rides and gone out to fill up the truck when cheap diesel manifested itself, but this was the first time I was around other people besides my immediate family. Interesting to say the least. It was more than orderly with everyone keeping their distance.

Good food, good meat. Getting late...

Good food, good meat. Getting late...

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

Nessa is a vegetarian but she still knows where to find the good stuff… and this is the place for good stuff. Today, steaks… and from another booth, lamb chops. One of the many blessings we get from living here (aside from not being surrounded by people in times like these) is that ‘farm to table’ is a way of life not an expensive specialty. Moving right along, masks or not, we all seem to recognize each other. I ran into Nessa’s sister Ginger in time for a cheery ‘Hello!’

We've got to start meeting like this...

We've got to start meeting like this...

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

Shopping done, we stopped by the Donkey where I got my usual double shot of espresso. Gotta support the places that are still open!

OK… tonight… Another free streaming show from the Fur Peace Ranch at eight o’clock.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wTLGKvG4U0

Be there or be square.

Obsessed?   Nahhh...

Obsessed? Nahhh...

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts, Venues Tags:

Friday Moving On…

April 10th, 2020 15 comments

John Prine’s death took us all by surprise even though I guess in retrospect we might have seen it in the wind. Rest in peace John… your work here on earth may done but we will be wrapped in your spirit for a long time. What a powerful legacy although I imagine that’s a small consolation to his surviving family. Your are all in my prayers.

There’s no good time for bad news and that bad news put some of my daily ruminations on hold, so I will take this opportunity to release them from their confinement.

Almost a week ago Nessa and Izze and I climbed into our truck on a beautiful day and drove to Athens town for some takeout from the Casa Nueva, our local ‘Counter Culture’ Mexicanesque restaurant. My two favorite times to eat at the Casa are breakfast and dinner. I’m not really a lunch guy except when the Fur Peace Ranch is in session, of course. I tend to be a creature of habit so my breakfast order is almost always their scrambled tofu (which is totally awesome in utterly unreplicatable at home), a side of their more than killer bacon, dry wheat roast and whatever their homemade jam de jour might be. Eating breakfast out is a social event for me so the takeout b’fast is not on my to do list. Dinner, however, is another story. At the Casa I always get the #3 dinner. I’ve been ordering this for twenty years. It’s a chicken enchilada with black bean sauce, rice and a small cheese empanada. I forget what the girls got but with take out in hand we got back in the truck and drove over to the river by Parks Hall and found a socially distant spot under a blossoming cherry tree.

Great day for a picnic

Great day for a picnic

Timed selfie by Vanessa Kaukonen

It’s chilly here today. There was a freeze warning last night. Big change from the high seventies/low eighties you see in these pictures. Ah, April… gotta love it!

Anyway, back home Vanessa ( the four leaf clover whisperer) found what might have been the first emerging four leaf clover in our little yard.

Bingo... it is found!

Bingo... it is found!

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

I did get several really good motorcycle rides in while the weather wasn’t bone chilling and there was almost no traffic on the highways and back roads. Not a big surprise but thoroughly enjoyable.

It’s Friday as I write this and tomorrow will be #2 Of The Quarantine Concert Series, Live From The Fur Peace Ranch. I wanted to research some lyrics for some tunes I haven’t done in a really long time. I needed to check out some lyrics and the info I needed was unintelligible on youtube so I went down to the old studio behind our house and started looking through my CD collection. I needed a tune from Too Hot To Handle. I was halfway through the Jorma/Hot Tuna/Jefferson Airplane CD collection when… there it was! The Too Hot Too Handle CD almost jumped in my hand!

Awesome!

I opened the jewel case… it was empty. Good grief. I’m sure that album is somewhere on line, but I couldn’t find it. I went to my vinyl shelves. I never got rid of any of my vinyl so these records (and they are records) go back over fifty years. Anyway, right under my hand as I pulled back the Indian bedspread that keeps dust off all this stuff was the Too Hot To Handle LP with the shrink wrap intact.

In living color...

In living color...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

I thought about playing the cut I needed on Dad’s old Denon turntable via the Marantz pre-amp on it’s way through the Austin and Michaelson TVA-1 power amp with the JBL 4312’s as a final destination but what the heck. I took the LP up to the house, cut the shrink wrap off and put it on the Rega turntable through the NAD Stereo Receiver 7155 with the music reaching my ears via a matched set of Polk Audio speakers. The speakers and the NAD came to live with us when my dad passed away in 1997. That gear still sounds great. Anyway, I heard the song and got the missing verse I needed. (I’ll be doing this tune on the show tomorrow night so I’ll be back later to talk about it.)

Vinyl… cool. Brings back memories of when listening to music was a appointment experience. Finding the sweet spot… digging the stereo imaging, the whole sonic deal.

OK Nuff said for now. If you haven’t done so, please subscribe to the Fur Peace Ranch YouTube channel. It doesn’t cost a darn thing and the numbers really help us out.

Here ya go:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wTLGKvG4U0

Catch you in the internet ether…

Stay well!

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags: