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Saturday Morning

April 4th, 2020 49 comments
Saturday morning at our place

Saturday morning at our place

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Well here it is Saturday morning and indeed… it is a new day. Had a lovely morning walk with Percy, our manly Chihuahua and Maverick, the Big Guy, walked himself. A new day today, as it is every day. Took a few steps back before moving forward, some outstanding early morning breaths in the frosty 36 degree weather. Moving right along indeed. My David Flammang J-35 will get the call to serve tonight although I will have two old friends on stage with me for inspirations. You will see my 1958 J-35… the guitar that my musical identity sprung from and my 1936 Gibson Advanced Jumbo. (Well, this one was made in 1997) This is the guitar I cut Blue Country Heart with. Never had electronics… never will. Anyway… I’m fired up.

Morning light on the Station Stage

Morning light on the Station Stage

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

There are still many things in life to look forward to. This may be a small one, but I’ll take the win.

Have a great day all, and see you tonight on the stream.

Here’s the link again. Be there or be square.

The Fur Peace Station awaits!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75XiVQiWvlM

Ahhhh

Ahhhh

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

Moving Right Along!

March 31st, 2020 38 comments

Our daughter Izze and some friends got together in front of a friend’s house and, standing six to eight feet apart sang her Happy Birthday. That’s what I’m talking about. Now she’s hiking in the woods. Over the weekend I did some hand mowing in the yard.

Took a while to get it started, but it did start!

Took a while to get it started, but it did start!

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

It’s really early in the season, so yard work is still fun.

The forsythia edging the parking lot in full bloom!

The forsythia edging the parking lot in full bloom!

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Moments like this are an opportunity to pass on things one should have passed on a long time ago.

My grandfather's chair...

My grandfather's chair...

Foto by jorma Kaukonen

My grandparent never threw anything out and never got new furniture, no matter how uncomfortable the old pieces might be. When they passed away in the early 70’s these chairs went to mom and dad and pretty much lived in the garage. When mom and dad passed away in the late 90’s they came to live in our garage. They have now gone to live with our friend Maureen and hopefully they’ll find a place in her Air B ‘n B. That’s progress.

Sunday was Vanessa’s birthday and she and Izze and I went to town an went for a socially distanced walk by the cherry blossoms by the river and then, it being such a beautiful day I came home and took a drone tour of the empty Fur Peace Ranch environs.

All we're lacking is people...

All we're lacking is people...

Drone shot by Jorma Kaukonen

The trees will green out soon

The trees will green out soon

Drone shot by Jorma Kaukonen

Today our videographer Andy Walla came by as well as my good bud Myron Hart and we set things up in the Fur Peace Station for a live streaming concert that I’m planning to give from the FPR stage this Saturday night. That would be the fourth of April. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on this and to make sure that you have have the correct link. I’m very excited about this. Even though our theater will be empty I’ll be playing from the stage, using the PA etc. etc. I hope you will be there to hear me play and probably blather on.

Myron and I... socially distant but still friends!

Myron and I... socially distant but still friends!

Socially distant selfie by Myron Hart

That’s about if for today.

For us… so far so good…

Hope it’s that way for you too!

PS Here’s the link for Saturday’s show:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75XiVQiWvlM

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

Walk In The Woods

March 22nd, 2020 26 comments
Wayne National Forest Between Chauncey And Millfield

Wayne National Forest Between Chauncey And Millfield

Map screenshot by Jorma Kaukonen

We are so fortunate for many reasons to live where we do. Our proximity to the Wayne National Forest is one of the many, Out Rt. 13 towards Millfield and Buchtel is the entrance to what is going to be one of the most extensive mountain bike trails this side of the Rockies.

You have to know where to look...

You have to know where to look...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

When you take a look at some of these photos taken in what look like overgrown meadows, what you see is reclaimed strip mines. Up here on Rt. 13 and Rt. 278 there are countless abandoned deep pit mines as well as reclaimed strips. The hills, of course, are ancient… the remnants of some of the oldest mountains in the world. Now they are the Appalachian Foothills.

Our pal Guy, Vanessa and our collective daughters.

Our pal Guy, Vanessa and our collective daughters.

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

You will notice how the teenage girls are doing their best to put as much distance between them and their parents as possible. I’m not a mountain biker… I prefer my Greg LeMond Zurich on our nicely maintained Adena-Hockhocking rails to trails bike path. That said, if I didn’t mind falling off occasionally I think I could navigate this part of the trail. As a hiking trail (It’s not open for bikes yet) it’s awesome!

Come back girls!

Come back girls!

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Since it’s still so early in the year the multifloral rose is still nascent and nothing else has greened out yet. We’re way into the woods and the only sound we hear is the running water of Bailey’s Run. The wildlife quieted down when we entered the woods, but now as it gets used to us, the forest springs to life again.

In this time of babbling politicians I'd rather listen to Baileys Run.

In this time of babbling politicians I'd rather listen to Baileys Run.

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

This would be a glorious moment for me at any time but in this moment COVID-19 seems far away. I’ll take the win!

Sure beats waiting in line at the filling station!

Sure beats waiting in line at the filling station!

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

The world hasn’t stopped or gone away, but in this moment and in this place, it’s on hold!

That's my girl!

That's my girl!

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Nice to see Nessa smile like this! She is indeed… my girl.

A culvert from another time

A culvert from another time

Foto by jorma Kaukonen

Stuff lays around for a long time out her in the country. It’s been a while since they made culverts out of ceramics.

This little pod of outdoor lovers had an awesome three and a half mile hike.

Back to where we started

Back to where we started

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Thank goodness Tess’ Dad, Guy, is an experienced woodsman. When we came back to the road, I would have bet the farm on going a different direction… and I would have been wrong. Good thing someone knew what they were doing!

Our mighty Jeep awaits paitently

Our mighty Jeep awaits paitently

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

The Jeep was right where we left it… although in a different direction than I would have thought.

What a great interlude!

Categories: Diary, Thoughts, trips and journeys Tags:

SHTF… And Some Thoughts This Morning

March 13th, 2020 39 comments

As an older man in the cross hairs of COVID 19 with a wife more or less in the same zone, a teenage daughter and a son in his twenties I am obviously concerned about this pandemic. First of all, even though I believe that COVID 19 will be everywhere because that’s what pandemics do, I am not surrounded by people and for now, I like it that way. In the course of my life I have had scarlet fever, a mild form of polio, chickenpox twice, mumps twice, dengue fever more than once, amoebic dysentery more than once, malaria more than once, shingles, high blood pressure, infectious hepatitis and the usual aches and pains that being alive for more than twenty four hours visits upon us. Will I survive this one? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

I understand that people are entitled to their own opinion and one of mine is, if you are an anti vaxxer you are putting my children at risk and you are no friend of mine. Harsh? not really. To survive in the real world we need facts not superstition. The BS about vaccines and autism has been thoroughly debunked more than once. An un-vaccinated person is a Typhoid Mary to me. Stay away from my kids. By the same token, to apply biblical metaphors to reality is, in my opinion not only absurd but dangerous. This is not the time for a discussion about who has the most powerful imaginary friend. Do I believe in a higher power? Absolutely. Do I think he, she or it has my ultimate best interests at heart? Hardly. There is a higher power, and it’s not me… or you. That’s all I need to know about that.

As far as the lack of COVID 19 testing in this country the fact that in this country there is less money in preventing disease that there is in trying to cure it would seem to provide some insights. Just saying. As far as being able to survive in a world after the SHTF in a world that finds itself WROL I don’t have those kinds of survival skills. I would be a court jester and court jesters don’t exist without a court and a king. Hmmm…. Well, we’re not there yet, and frankly I think we’re going to get through this in spite of the ineptitude in the idiots running this country. In Ohio, all schools are closed for the next three weeks, and it could be longer. I’m not touring right now, but pretty much all tours are being cancelled or at the very least postponed. This is going to effect guys like me profoundly and who knows what the endgame will be?

Lastly, don’t criticize me for using Prepper acronyms. I’m not a prepper. Maybe I should have been.

We’ll see…

Onward

Categories: Diary, Set Lists, Thoughts Tags:

Forging Ahead In The New Normal

March 11th, 2020 16 comments

Whatever that ‘New Normal’ might be. The Coronavirus spread is touching all of us. Ohio University is closed until the end of May as is Athens High School where our daughter goes. The kids will be studying online and the dorms at OU will be empty. We’ve been lucky so far and we’re doing what we can to prolong that.

More will be revealed.

That said, I did get an eighty mile motorcycle ride in this week on the one beautiful day we had. I didn’t even stop for pictures, just enjoyed the ride!

Then yesterday I hopped in my truck and drove down river to Gallipolis to Temple Tattoo where I considered my next, and probably my last ink. Time to strike now while my skin is still resilient enough.

Here I am with the gang at Temple Tattoo in Gallipolis.

Here I am with the gang at Temple Tattoo in Gallipolis.

Aside from spending time with friends at the tattoo shop, I filled up my truck with diesel. It was almost 35 cents cheaper that it is in Athens. What’s up with that? Also doing a little light prepping… Water, food, and what? Out of toilet paper!!!! Look out for the poison ivy.

Moving on… be well all of you out there!

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

Comment World

March 3rd, 2020 41 comments

Hey Folks… pulling into the final gig of this little run, and it’s been really swell. The first two nights of the tour were acoustic at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix and the rest of the run was the electric trio and that mostly with the David Bromberg Quintet. I love those guys! It’s been a helluva run. Anyway, the last two nights with David and his pals was at the Boulder Theater, in Boulder. I’ve always loved the Boulder Theater for what I considered to be its generally lovely acoustic properties. I’ve played it solo, I’ve played it with Barry Mitterhoff, I’ve been there as a guest of Nick and Helen Forster’s eTown… I’ve played it with Jack Casady acoustic and electric…well, suffice it to say I’ve been there a lot. It has always treated me well and I’ve always given it my best.

So last night we pulled into St. Louis for our last show today at the River City Casino. I was just heading to the restaurant for dinner when I got a text from Vanessa with this note. Now I’m not including the name of the gentleman who sent this to Ness. This is one man’s opinion and he is welcome to it. I don’t want to set him up to be piled on… I did not sit in his seat… I did not have his experience, this is his and his alone. Here is what this disgruntled soul had to say.

‘Hi Vanessa,

First, let me say I’m a long-time Jorma fan. I’ve been eager to hear Hot Tuna live and I’ve wanted to come to the ranch for a workshop for years. But another day for that.

I finally had the chance to hear Hot Tuna last Friday at the Boulder Theater. Well, I started the show anyway. We left during the third song because the sound was detestable. Way too loud, distorted and poorly balanced. I was clocking 105db (peaks were higher) in the balcony. God only knows how much louder it was closer to the stage. But not just loud. The sound was all thumping bass guitar and bass drum. Jorma’s voice was largely inaudible and sometimes even his guitar was covered. Really unpleasant, distorted and all one dynamic. Bad and unacceptably so.

I love my Hot Tuna albums. I appreciate that Jorma is a craftsman, laboring to select the right guitar, right amp, right mikes for each song. And he sweats the details, frequency balance, dynamics, spatial balance. I just can’t believe that he doesn’t care about the quality of his live sound. If his albums were so poor sounding, I wouldn’t buy another one. I doubt he would be proud of any album that sounded so bad, either.

No, I didn’t complain to management at the Boulder Theater. I have in the past (a Dixie Dregs show that was even louder) and they shrugged, saying “Nobody else has complained”. I can’t explain that. Maybe audiences are just so accustomed to bad sound they don’t know any better. But the lack of complaints is not evidence of good sound. Nor is the lack of complaints evidence that a good sounding concert would not be appreciated by the audience. Boulder Theater is not unique, there’s plenty of bad sound out there. Despite excellent sound systems in this day and age, concert sound has never been worse. The state of the art is awful. I just thought Jorma would insist on better sound. I just thought he would want his artistry to be better conveyed.

A final note on safety. 105db is flat out unsafe for human ears except for very short peaks. A constant level of sound that loud is dangerous to our long-term hearing health. I would think Jorma would have some sense of responsibility about that, too.

$135 down the drain for me. Worse, I can’t imagine risking a repeat of the experience. Too bad, I really like Hot Tuna.’

Jorma here again.

OK… another county heard from.

This individual implied that I don’t care about our live sound. He may have thought our sound sucked, and I guess that is for him to say, but he is way off base when he says that I/we don’t care about our live show. Anyone who has been stuck in the house when we set up to do a show knows how meticulous our sound check is. Our head Tech Guru, Myron spends as much time as it takes to tune the room before a single note gets played. My 1967 50w Marshall Plexi is surrounded by glass as is the Louis Electric TwinMaster. The Firebird or the Les Paul use the Marshall, the Gibson Chet Atkins SST gets the call for the softer finger picking numbers through the Louis. No one in the audience is in the line of fire from those amps. We spend a lot of time making sure the sound is right. We’re an old school band so we don’t depend on subs. Do we use some sub-woofer action? Sure we do, but we don’t depend on it.

Said individual said he left during the third song. Now I will allow that on the third and fourth song that night, I brought out my Fender Jazzmaster which hasn’t seen the light of day for number of years. The songs I used it on were Ode To Billy Dean and Talkin’ Bout You. I had some issues with that guitar that night and I will be the first to admit that I thought it sounded nasty and it did not return to the stage again. Mea culpa. Long life the Firebird! The first two songs were Been So Long and Candy Man. These are by their nature not very loud songs and one of the things I enjoyed about these Boulder shows was that I did not have to rely on the monitors… I could work with the sound I heard back from the house. For me this is an almost perfect on-stage scenario.

To get back to our offended patron. From our vantage point on stage I remember that we had a lot of dynamic range to play with. I had no trouble hearing my own voice coming back from the house, and I’m not a loud singer. Now this offended soul left after three songs and I’m not taking issue with what he heard. When I showed the note to Jack, his immediate response was ‘He has hearing issues.’ I can’t comment on that but I thought it was an interesting observation.

Lastly… again from the dissatisfied customer:

‘A final note on safety. 105db is flat out unsafe for human ears except for very short peaks. A constant level of sound that loud is dangerous to our long-term hearing health. I would think Jorma would have some sense of responsibility about that, too.’

OK, I have some hearing loss due to age and occupational hazards but I’m lucky… it could be much worse. That being said, I’m not out there with a db meter. That’s not my job. My job is to put on a good show, perform to the best of my ability and give the folks not only their money’s worth, but an honest artistic experience! I believe we do that every night. We bring it every night we play! We never phone it in! In my opinion one of the major components of Rock ‘n’ Roll, is volume (on the songs that require volume). I believe that many people today have damaged their hearing more by blasting music with ear pods than by experiencing high volumes at shows. (This is an opinion, and opinions are like assholes, everybody has one) That being said, if I were going to be in the audience for any kind of show and I were concerned about the ambient volume, I would bring ear protection with me. When I ride my motorcycle, I wear a full-face helmet and if I’m going for a long ride, I add under helmet ear protection as well. Just sayin’

OK. I’m truly sorry that the writer of this letter did not get the experience he had hoped for. I really am. Again, I wasn’t sitting in his seat and so my experience was obviously not his. I am saying that our collective experience at the Boulder Theater was, ‘Wow, what great sound tonight!’ I even did Genesis as an encore because I liked the detail of the sound so much.

Nuff said!

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

Goodbye Buddy

February 5th, 2020 20 comments
Yeah man... I'll miss ya brother

Yeah man... I'll miss ya brother

So I’m down here teaching on Sanibel Island. It’s a good time… no complaints. I just heard from my friend Michael Falzarano that our old pal Buddy Cage passed today. I really got to know Buddy in the mid eighties. I had met him before, but we never hung. When I moved to New York in ’84 he was playing with Bad Dog and we did some gigs together. We became friends and our orbits circled each each other over the years. He was a lovable eccentric… always.

I know you had some hard times old friend and if there is a better place, you are there now.

Fair winds and following seas….

Our Buddy...

Our Buddy...

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

My New Flammang J-35

January 14th, 2020 53 comments
Like a walk back in time

Like a walk back in time

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

So last year early in the FPR season one of our students came down from Toronto and he had this J-35 looking thing built by a guy out in Iowa named David Flammang. I picked this guitar up and started to play and in a bizarre way it was like being twenty years old again. It had the same feel my ’58 J-50 had when I got it in 1960. The way it played, the way it responded to my right hand and the way it felt perfect with .013’s. Tom Feldmann was on board for that class and he knew David… of course. He had used one of David’s L-00’s for a Robert Johnson instructional. He put me in touch with David and I ordered one immediately. He made two which he brought to a Tuna gig in St. Paul and I chose the one with the torrified top.

Now, I’ve already been asked, ‘Is it better than your M-30,’ and the liked. These are ridiculous questions. It’s apples and oranges. Martins sound like Martins, Gibsons and Gibson-like guitars have characteristics all their own. For that bass string sound so evident on the first Hot Tuna LP and Quah, you need a J-50 or something like it. That’s the deal. The M-30 is a long scale guitar and as such there is a certain sonorous quality short scales don’t have. But they have something else. Now, on the final FPR workshop of last year I had my old J-50 in the room, and it is still a really great guitar. She’s an old girl though and I would never take her on the road.

Is the Flammang better?

The Flammang is different… and in an interesting way hearkens back to another time. My Martins are magnificent and I’m not getting rid of any of them. I’m a lucky guy. I’ve got it all.

And speaking of having it all, the LSU/Clemson game last night was more that awesome. Joe Burrow, the QB that Ohio State overlooked, went to the high school where my daughter goes. Athens High School. Go Bulldogs!

Joe is awesome. All of us Southeast Ohio folk are so proud of him.

Life is darned OK!

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

Seventy Nine Comes And Time Reminds Me Of Its Passing

December 24th, 2019 31 comments
Lower 40 under water

Lower 40 under water

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

I got home from the Hot Tuna tour to find the Shade River well over its banks and neighbor Donnie’s field under water. These things come and go around here. At least with floods, there are few surprises. It was nice to be back home with the family. The tour wasn’t that long, but somehow it seemed as if a minor eternity had passed. On Saturday the girls took me up to Columbus for a birthday Ramen lunch at Meshikou.

I passed the egg off to Vanessa, but the rest disappeared!

I passed the egg off to Vanessa, but the rest disappeared!

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

By the time I got home from Milwaukee I had a pretty good cold going and the spice in the Ramen broth helped suppress some of the symptoms, at least till I got home. On December 19th I got an email from an old friend, Mike Slater. He sadly informed me that Steve Farzan had passed. I had not seen Steve for a number of years but back in the mid 80’s we were band mates in a most idiosyncratic band, There Goes The Neighborhood. Somehow I briefly hooked up with Jaco Pastorius who I met one night at a gig at My Father’s Place in Roslyn, LI. I don’t really know how this happened but synchronicity is an amazing thing. Through Jaco I met Steve Sacher who played bass and replaced jaco when he disappeared, Ben Prevo who played guitar and was Steve’s roommate at that infamous apartment at #1 Lispenard Street. Rasheid Ali a colorful free jazz drummer lived around the corner on Greene St. Thanks to Steve’s connection with Jaco and ‘Sheid he found his way into our company. Last but not least, Steve Farzan came out from San Francisco… and there went the neighborhood.

We literally crossed the country together in my 1977 half ton sport van… with no air conditioning. We shared rooms, got paid next to nothing and forged the kind of bond that only road dog musicians truly understand. As the eighties evolved, There Goes The Neighborhood was laid to rest, the ’89 Airplane Reunion was thrust upon me and I met Vanessa and married she, who was and always will be, the light of my life in this world. History has shown that some of these events proved to be more durable than others.

I’m not much of a social butterfly anymore so I miss out on a lot of hang time with old friends. That said, as infrequently as I saw Steve over the years I’m sorry he has moved on.

My 90 year old mother in law asked me at dinner the other night, ‘Does it feel different to be 79?’ The simple answer is, ‘Yes,’ but I’m not quite sure how yet. Life is more fragile, time more precious and friends and family more important. The final vote is still out.

Sunday Nessa, Izze and I drove to town to see the latest Star Wars Movie.

Sailor's Delight

Sailor's Delight

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

The twilight thunder continued all the way to town!

The old man at 79

The old man at 79

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

So far so good…

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

Teaching Through Song!

November 17th, 2019 15 comments
Adam Remnant and I hold forth...

Adam Remnant and I hold forth...

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

Adam Remnant, a local musician and teacher and I got together to present a little symposium for Creative Teaching Through Song at the 2019 Literacy Conference for the Patton College of Education at Ohio University. Our audience was comprised of OU education students and the onstage class was eighth graders and high school kids. In the space of ninety minutes we forged the kids into a songwriting teams… and they wrote a very cool song.

This was a real treat for me and I have to say, I learned a lot from Adam… who is used to working with kids. A good time indeed.

The A-Team at the end of the session.

The A-Team at the end of the session.

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

This was an honor and a pleasure indeed!

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