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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!

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

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:

Time

April 8th, 2020 22 comments

We were watching a movie with our daughter last night. It was an old Brad Silberling flick called City Of Angels with Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan. Sort of a 90’s piece about living and dying, love and loss. I wasn’t sure whether our teenager would grok this flick but at the end I think she dug it on some level.

As the movie was winding up and coming in for a landing I heard a gasp from Vanessa on the chair next to us. ‘John Prine just died…’ And then nothing. I was and am, profoundly moved.

Of course John’s music has been a part of our lives for a half a century, more or less so in a way I felt like I knew him. In the early 90’s when the Kaukonens had just moved to Meigs County we forayed up to Columbus and saw co-bill with him and Nancy Griffith. It was delightful. I remember he was digging in on a little finger picking vignette between verses and he looked out on us in the audience with a sly smile and in a sotto voce stage whisper he confided in us all. “Pick it John!’

Good stuff, and a nice memory.

My first meeting with John was at the Love For Levon Save The Barn Benefit on October 3rd, 2012 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. There was a massive aggregation of amazing talent there that night and I found myself sharing a dressing room with John Prine and Alain Toussaint. There I was in a room with two men whose music had helped to garnish my path in life.

It was an amazing moment. Alain was gracious but regally distant and that was more than OK. John and I started to talk and in that moment for some reason, I felt like he might have been one of my old friends from the neighborhood in D.C. where I grew up. We talked about this and that and I remember that I told him about the Fur Peace Ranch and how much I would like to see him up at our place. I think we talked about motorcycles too. Well, that’s how I remember it so I’ll just say that’s just how it was. We would see each other one more time at Merlefest down in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. I would not see him again.

Somehow, I see a point in all this. Why should the death of someone I really barely knew affect me in such a profound emotional way? Last week I got an email from a friend from the American School where I studied back in Manila in 1957. An old friend Donnie C. had just passed away. Donnie was one of the first people who befriended me when our family was posted to the Philippines in 1956. As a Foreign Service brat, those first moments in a new post always seemed life threatening. She made me feel welcome. As time passed we all went our own ways and the last time I saw her was in 1963 at Mills College in the East Bay of San Francisco. I always wondered what happened to her as we sometimes do with old friends we don’t see, but I never followed up on it and life happened between then and now.

Momentary intersections that sparkle like diamonds in the long road of an almost eighty-year-old man. As I write this I am having coffee here at the Fur Peace Ranch in the midst of trying times. We are all surrounded by a world-wide pandemic… WW C as I choose to call it. Regardless of national allegiance or any other artificial boundaries we choose to tribalize ourselves with, we might have come in on different ships, but today we are all in the same boat as they say. With death truly becoming a more than a noticeable part of our daily life how can I pick who to mourn? Well, there are plenty of candidates to pick from so maybe it’s just being touched in a random way by the hand of time… and maybe it’s just bathing in the reality that time is all we have until it’s gone.

The COVID-19 virus is taking so much from all of us, but for us older folks… it’s taking time. It’s putting a full stop to all those things we think we might get to one of these days, calling this person… writing that one… whatever, all those things that might never get done because the universe doesn’t wait for good intentions.

Well… John and Donnie are just two examples for me of this malaise… this inertia. Some things that are put off will always be left undone and that too, is just the way it is.

From Connie Kaldor’s Thin Thread

‘Life is a thin thread
It’s a thin little hand on a hospital bed
It’s all of the things that you’ve left unsaid
Life is a thin thread
Its a fine line between loving and not
Between holding it back or giving all that you’ve got
Feeling you’re free thinking you’re caught
It’s a fine line’

There is still a lot left to do!

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

Sunday Morning Getting Up…

April 5th, 2020 32 comments

With apologies to Kris Kristofferson 🙂

Neighbor Donnie's field...

Neighbor Donnie's field...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Indeed life has been disrupted for the world in these days of World War C, but for some life just goes on. It’s little hard to see in the picture above taken from my back porch but here’s the deal. I was pottering around the Ranch getting ready for the live stream last night and I heard this noise. ‘What the heck is that?’ I thought. I looked down over my little road to the A-Frame and there was my neighbor Donnie on his John Deere discing the field. Part of that field is ours but we don’t do anything with it so we let him farm it. Anyway, those of us who live in the country immediately recognize the sound of a full sized tractor… not one of those fancy riding mowers with a hydrostatic drive. Yep… if the cows are going to eat, silage must be planted virus or no virus. It just reminded me yet one more time how fragile our time on this planet is. Yeah, it’s all well and good for those of us who have ‘non-essential’ jobs to shelter in place while someone else does our shopping for us, keeps the power and water on and delivers stuff from Amazon Prime. As we grains of sand get shaken in the cosmic sifter, it will be interesting to see who’s left at the end of the day.

In the meantime, I’ll take the win… and for us here at the Fur Peace Ranch the win was pulling of our first live stream concert during the Pandemic. Big thanks to our videographer, Andy Walla, who left her husband and infant son at home to direct the show from the ‘flight deck’ backstage. My good friend Myron Hart who is always there for us and our daughter Izze, who ran one of the cameras. As we all know here, the real captain of this ship is Vanessa and she was and always is everywhere making sure everything works. If you’re one of her Facebook buddies, then you know about the mask projects she has been into with the help of her sister Ginger and her mother Virginia.

Anyway, here’s the set list from last night’s show:

Jorma Kaukonen 1, 2020
#1 Of The Quarantine Concert Series
Live From The Fur Peace Ranch
Fur Peace Station
Darwin, Ohio
Saturday, April 4, 2020

1. San Francisco Bay Blues
2. Heart Temporary
3. Blue Railroad Train
4. Been So Long
5. Sea Child
6. In The Kingdom
7. Good Shepherd
8. Brother Can You Spare A Dime?
9. Let Us Get Together Right Down Here
10. Water Song…

oops, and Barbecue King in there somewhere… 🙂

Thanks for the good questions you sent me via Vanessa. Sorry we couldn’t get to them all… more next Saturday.

Big kudos to all those out there in the ‘real world’ keeping our society staggering along. Medical pros, first responders, folks on trucks, in the service sector… hey, I could go on and on. You are all appreciated.

That’s about it for now. As always…

More will be revealed!

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Set Lists, Thoughts Tags: