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Moving Right Along…

May 12th, 2014 Jorma 12 comments
Izze goes to the polls with me...

Izze goes to the polls with me...

So, last Tuesday was a primary and issue election here in the Buckeye State, and as always, I took Izze with me when I went to vote. She needs to know how important voting is.

Then days passed, as days do, and another weekend at the Fur Peace Ranch was upon us. Woody Mann, and Chris Smither and I were the teachers and we looked forward to… and got, an amazing weekend.

The onstage poster from Saturday night...

The onstage poster from Saturday night...

Woody Mann opened the show and a profoundly moving and artful set. Woody is always great, but for some reason his performance this night really touched my heart. Thanks Woody!

After a short break, Brian Auger and the Oblivion Express took the stage for what was to be a simply amazing concert.

Good to see you too, Brian!

Good to see you too, Brian!

Brian was joined by Karma Auger on Drums, Alex Ligertwood on vocals, Les King on Bass and Yarone Levy on guitar.

Les and Yarone at sound check

Les and Yarone at sound check

Portent of things to come

Portent of things to come

What a great bunch of guys and what a great bunch of players. Brian asked me to sit in on Season Of The Witch…
Hell yeah!

Getting ready for the Witch with my new Etune Les Paul

Getting ready for the Witch with my new eTune Les Paul

Foto by Rusty Smith

So I’ve been playing my new 120th Anniversary 60’s Peace Les Paul with the Etune gadget... and I love everything about this fine instrument… and the onboard tuning system rocks. Look it up!

Season Of The Witch rocked too… Thanks guys! After the set I got to play my arrangement of Brother Can You Spare A Dime for Brian and Yarone.

This song is going to be a winner

This song is going to be a winner

Foto by Wally Himelstein

Great show, and then they were gone… back to LA. The weekend at the Ranch concluded and Chris and I did a little show on Sunday night joined by Woody. How good does it have to get?

Chris me an Woody

Chris me and Woody

Foto by Rusty Smith

Woody, Chris and Me

Woody, Chris and Me

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

And that was it. Just as I was about to leave the Ranch to come home for a bit, Jack Casady sent me this foto he just took passing through San Francisco. 2400 Fulton St. indeed!

Where do those half centuries go?

Where do those half centuries go?

That’s all folks… (think Looney Tunes)

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

Sidebar From Hillside Farm

May 8th, 2014 Jorma 35 comments

Life is so interesting. When commenting on life in general, as I often do here in my blog, I try to confine myself to my own story, since I have no first hand knowledge of the experience of anyone else. Of course, being human, I am not always successful in this. But I digress…

Anyway, when I first starting blogging well over a decade ago, the word ‘blog’ didn’t even exist yet, or if it did, I didn’t know about it. My early blogging sites didn’t allow for comments because at the time I wasn’t really interested in what anyone else had to say. The site was for my expression alone. When we inaugurated this site I decided to get off my high horse and let you all in, and I’m glad I did for a number of reasons. I guess the main reason was that I wanted to engender a community of like minded spirits in the same way that we have done at the Fur Peace Ranch. I rarely block the accessibility of the site to anyone. Well, the usual spam ads… that goes without saying… and every now and then (extremely infrequently) some insufferable dickhead pops up and of course, they’re outta here.

When our daughter was going to public school, I made a lot of ’sidewalk’ friends and we would talk while waiting for the kids to get out of school. One of the conversations that I would frequently have would go something like this. ‘I can’t believe you have to travel so much. It must be so hard for you… getting on and off planes, waiting in stations, getting on and off buses, driving cars, checking in and out of hotels… etc.’ I would start my reply like this. ‘I can’t believe you go to the same office every day, sit in the same chair surrounded by the same people doing the same thing… every day, day in and day out.’

Then I would thus explain further. That’s my job. I get paid for it. I have been doing it for a very long time and I love what I do. For me, the work is the travel, but it could be worse, because I have always loved to travel. My Father was in the Service and we traveled all the time. I grew up with it as do my children. Would it be nice to spend more time at home with the family. Sure. Do I enjoy being able to pay for the things we all need. You bet!

I don’t like flying, so whether I’m headed halfway around the world to the Far East or taking a 90 minute flight to New York… they are both equally repulsive. It is called ‘work’ for a reason. There is nothing special about being a musician or an artist of any sort other than it is a job that is more enjoyable than many things I could think of. Like I tell promoters at a gig where there is a delay, ‘We’re not leaving until we play.’ The playing is the frosting on the cake, and without you, the audience, there would be no cake… so thanks friends!

We do not deserve deification for what we do. It would be unnatural for us not to do it. Nobody deserves anything, be we appreciate the collective appreciation of those who care about what we have to give.

There are no superstars, there are no ’special people,’ there are just people, and those of us who care about such things, try to give our very best at all times, in all things.

It is great to be home… to be doing home things… to be alive and lively in this uncertain world.

Onward…

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

A Yokohama Landing

April 22nd, 2014 Jorma 14 comments

In 1945 and ‘46 my Father, Jorma Sr., found himself a young Naval officer attached to an Army military intelligence unit with General MacArthur’s staff. As a first generation American born in this country, Dad was already something of a linguist. His first language was Finnish, then English taught at the Carnegie Library in Ironwood, Michigan. As a thirteen year old, the Kaukonen family moved to East L.A., Lincoln Heights to be exact… so his next language was Spanish. His younger brothers were combat vets, Tarmo in North Africa and Italy and Pentti in the Pacific, winding up in the Philippines. Dad was a little older and he had to jump through hoops in order to enlist. they sent him to the Navy Language School in Ann Arbor an he learned Japanese. (Before Dad went home for the last time, he would master Urdu, Tagalog and Swedish.)

After the fire bombing of Tokyo, there was little left standing save plumbing and iron safes. Dad and his buds would sift through the ashes of the city and crack safes to see if there were any relevant documents inside and at night they were billeted with Douglas MacArthur’s guys at the Grand Hotel in Yokohama. (Interestingly enough, still standing.) When I was here with Hot Tuna in 1997, that’s where we stayed.

Evening in Yokohama

Evening in Yokohama

After an eleven an a half hour flight from Denver, we arrived in Narita welcomed by a gentle Spring rain. A couple hours later after checking into the hotel in Yokohama, we took a walk to find an eatery.

A ramen shop... yeah buddy!

A ramen shop... yeah buddy!

A simply delicious bowl of Ramen an some Gyoza! A man’s gotta eat.

Jack, Douglas our promoter, myself and Myron Hart... yummy!

Jack, Douglas our promoter, myelf an Myron Hart... yummy

Floto by unknown waitress.

It’s 0100 here in Japan… thirteen hours and a day off from Ohio time. I’m awake… obviously. Hmm. how did that happen? I figured I’d answer some emails, update my blog and see if I can get back to sleep. Today is a bona fide day off so I’m going to walk around the port. Tomorrow we play Thumbs Up here in Yokohama. In 1997 Hot Tuna did a live recording here (Hot Tuna, Live In Japan) at a little club called Stoves which is owned by the guy who also owns Thumbs Up.

We’re looking forward to a great couple of weeks here, and we’re going to keep all of you in the loop.

Sayonara

The Spring Of Many Cultures… Spring Has Sprung

April 20th, 2014 Jorma 23 comments
Mmmm... and Kosher too!

Mmmm... and Kosher too!

So my son Zach was with us for his Spring Break and he was able to join us for the family Seder at Hillel Of Ohio University.

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

It was a sweet evening… and yes, I had seconds of gefilte fish.

Israel Love reads the Haggadah.

Israel Love reads the Haggadah.

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

The Kaukonens and a Kearse at Hillel

The Kaukonens and a Kearse at Hillel

Foto credit… Selfie

That’s how the week started out. Now in the beginning of the week, it was so cold, we laughingly called it, ‘Winter Break.’ But then, fortunately it warmed up.

A young man and his machine

A young man and his machine

Yeah, Zach and I got a couple of great motorcycle rides in and things were looking up. We did some riding, watched some movies and we even rode our bikes to the hospital while the Doctors took a look inside me to make sure everything was as it should be… and the good news is… that it was!

Friday was benefit for the Gathering Place here in Athens, Ohio. Check out the website and see what we’re up to. A bunch of folks played including Laura Nadeau and myself and a band with some folks from the Gathering Place.

Cheap at twice the price.

Cheap at twice the price.

It was such a blessing for me to have both my kids there to not only hear me play but Izze was one of the youth puppeteers. Cool beans!

Siblings

Siblings

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

The 'House' band

The 'House' band

I’ve been involved in some really worthy benefits lately, and this one is right up near the top!

My son went home yesterday to have Easter with his Mom and I took Izze over to my sister-in-law Ginger’s place to have an Easer egg hunt with the cousins.

Excitement on the way to the hunt

Excitement on the way to the hunt

Where are those eggs?

Where are those eggs?

I found one!

I found one!

foto by Ginger Gagne

I know there's more...

I know there's more...

What a great day with family…

Appalachian Easter...

Appalachian Easter...

foto by Ginger Gagne

Yeah… there’s no place like home… there’s no place like home.

The sun goes down over my barn

The sun goes down over my barn

shhhhhhhhh....

shhhhhhhhh....

A lovely week at home. How I’m at an airport hotel in Columbus, and tomorrow I leave for Japan… where I’m sure, more will be revealed.

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

Happy Birthday, Jack Old Friend… An Open Letter To John William Casady

April 15th, 2014 Jorma 32 comments

Dear Jack:

Your old buddy Jorma here. Man, we sure have known each other a long time… through the neighborhood, through school, through nicknames, through the music, through joy and sadness, through the years… through a lifetime. We have been blessed in so many amazing ways, and here we still are. Yes I know your birthday was two days ago, but remember, I called you at 0500 your time to sing you Happy Birthday! Sorry I didn’t have time for pitch correction.

It seems like only yesterday when we were going over to Ronnie McDonald’s to rehearse. I had that Lambretta scooter I brought back from the Philippines… no car. My guitar was on the floorboards obscuring the brake. I don’t think you had a license yet… can’t remember. How did you get to the rehearsal? Were you on the back of the scooter? Did you take the bus? The answer is lost in antiquity. I do, however, remember this in detail. You and I were riding that scooter over in Virginia when they were just starting to build the Beltway. We slipped passed the construction barricades and found there was no road. To get back to civilization we went ‘off road’ with the little 150cc Lambretta. Some of that ride involved you and I carrying the scooter over obstacles.

Good times with the follies of youth!

May life continue to grace you with health, happiness and fulfillment. Being forever young is out of the question but may you forever be in the moment. As Patty Loveless said in her great song, ‘Too Many Memories,’ ‘And the lessons you learn and you don’t forget
What makes you grow old is replacing hope with regret.’

Hope you had a good one brother, and may you always feel like we look in this picture!

Good times brother... but good times down the road!

Good times brother... but good times down the road!

I love you brother…

Keep smiling…

Your old droog,

Jorma (aka, ‘jerry’)

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

Fair Winds And Following Seas, Joe!

April 10th, 2014 Jorma 21 comments
Big Joe... We'll miss this guy!

Big Joe... We'll miss this guy!

A couple of years ago down at the Fur Peace Ranch a bunch of our New York Friends would show up every now an then for our Saturday night shows at the Fur Peace Station. In many respects, ever since the 60’s, the Northeast United States, especially New York, has been a very real home to Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna and myself. For many years we have all soared on the wings of dear friends like Joe LaMontagne. When Barry and I played Our Lady Of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn two weeks ago, Joe was there as he had been at so many of our shows. Yesterday John Hurlbut down at the Ranch got a sad email from Joe’s friend Michael to tell us that Joe had passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly on Saturday, April 5, 2014. Joe was an amazing guy, and it is worth getting to know him a little bit by reading this piece from the Poughkeepsie Journal.

WILLISTON PARK – Joseph T. LaMontagne, 54, of Williston Park passed away on Saturday, April 5th at Winthrop Hospital surrounded by family.

Born on November 7, 1959 in Far Rockaway to Bridie Maloney and George LaMontagne.

On August 2nd, 2011, Joseph married his best friend Paula (Minyard) LaMontagne, who survives at home.

In addition to his wife, he is also survived by his brother George and Ellen (George and Kevin), his sister Marie Dave Falcon (Davey and Steve), his sister Maggie and John Crumb (Johnny, James And Bridget), his Brother Sean (Seanie and Shamus), his five stepchildren, J.T., Nick, Gina, David and Jalicia, His beloved granddaughters, Trinity, Akili, Oriana, Braylin and his grandson Jayden. He is also survived by several aunts, uncles, cousins and some of the greatest group of men that he called friends and brothers that any man could ever want.

Having overcome a troubled early life, battling his demons, Joe rose above that to live a second life, a very accomplished one. Some of the things that Joseph was most proud of were working for St. Joes in the Poughkeepsie Guest House and then working for the same Franciscan Friars that saved his life many years before at SCI (Graymoor) for almost a decade. Giving back to men what was so freely given to him. He was a proud member of Alcoholics Anonymous for more than 20 years.

Joseph was a huge music lover, a passionate Jets and Mets fan and he loved to fish.

Heaven gained an angel, Joe will be sadly missed, but never forgotten. Family and friends may call Thursday 2-5 & 7-9:30 at Thomas F. Dalton Funeral Home, 29 Atlantic Avenue, Floral Park, NY 11001. In Lieu of Flowers, please send donations to SCI – 21 Franciscan Way, P.O. Box 150, Garrison, NY 10524.

At my age I have come to realize that you meet people in this life that you will count as friends. You may meet them infrequently… you may rarely speak… but you will know that you will always be friends… and you may think, ‘Perhaps I should have called more often.’

Fair winds and following seas brother… fair winds and following seas!

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

Say ‘Amen’ Somebody!

April 4th, 2014 Jorma 17 comments

As I get ready for our second weekend here at the Fur Peace Ranch, with Marjorie Thompson and David Wolff, I got to thinking about my class May 9, 2014.

When Ian Buchanan finally opened to door to finger picking for me back in 1960 the key was spirituals… My parents exposed me to Mahalia Jackson when I was young. Ours was not a Christian Family, nor as Jews, were we observant at that time. That said, I found Mahalia’s music to be unbelievably moving. When I got bitten by the finger style guitar bug, the first songs that grabbed me were gospel and spirituals. The depth of this music is inescapable. The techniques involved set the course for the development of my music by means of the guitar. The rest is not just history, the evolution continues.

I am anticipating a grand turnout for this weekend. This is something near and dear to my heart as you’ve probably figured out by this time. To get y’all in the spirit for the weekend, everyone who signs up for this class will get a Rev. Gary Davis, ‘Harlem Street Singer’ CD as well as a Jorma Kaukonen, ‘Stars In my Crown’ CD. Just to get you in the mood!

Yep… there’s nothing like a good spiritual guitar song, and we’re going to be teaching a bunch of them.

Sign up and come on down to the Ranch. We’re all going to be sitting in the Amen Corner together!

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

A Day At Ash Cave With The Kids

March 28th, 2014 Jorma 40 comments

On Wednesday there was an outing in the Hocking Hills at Ash Cave for the kids involved in the Ohio Virtual Academy, so of course Nessa and Izze and my nephew Montana and Izze’s Learning Coach, Shannon and I drove up from Meigs County to the Hocking Hills for a lovely day in the woods and a chance to meet our online teachers in the flesh as well as some of the local kids that are in the program. Now, I’ve been to Old Man’s Cave a number of times but I had never been to Ash Cave before. Beautiful… simply beautiful.

Here’s a little foto gallery:

The parking lot where we meet some of the families

The parking lot where we meet some of the families

On the walk to the cave

On the walk to the cave

What a beautiful place!

What a beautiful place!

Ash Cave

Ash Cave

Not bad, eh?

Not bad, eh?

More perfection!

More perfection!

Nessa at the Cave

Nessa at the Cave

The land time forgot

The land time forgot

Don't forget to duck your head

Don't forget to duck your head

A place in the universe

A place in the universe

One great shot after another...

One great shot after another...

Pool in the mist

Pool in the mist

We're on the upward trail... singing, singing

We're on the upward trail... singing, singing

Bridal veil?

Bridal veil?

Ice stalagmites

Ice stalagmites

What a sound...

What a sound...

The trail back to the truck...

The trail back to the truck...

What a glorious day.

Yesterday, Myron and I drove up to Newburg, N.Y. for a gig in Beacon tonight at the Town Crier Cafe. It’s nice to be playing music again, but somehow, on some days… nature just rules!

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

‘Gottcha Day! The Miracle Continues…

March 19th, 2014 Jorma 21 comments
The Orphanage in Guiping City

The Orphanage in Guiping City

Izze’s ‘Gottcha Day,’ Wednesday, March 19, 2014

In 2007, I was working in Italy when Vanessa and I got the call to go to China to bring our daughter, Israel Love, home to Ohio. You never know when these calls are going to come so families must be ready. Vanessa’s sister Robin, (Lady Robin to all of us) went in my stead and the ladies headed over halfway around the world to Nanning, China.

The first picture they sent us of Izze

The first picture they sent us of Izze

We knew even before we saw her first picture that Izze was our daughter, and that she would be ours forever… that she was family even before we met. The Red Thread is everywhere in this story.

When the girls were heading back from China, I drove up to Columbus to meet them at the airport. A late winter storm changed everything and I had to head down from Columbus to Cincinnati to meet them there. When they left the secure area and we walked down to baggage claim, the first thing Izze did when she saw me was to burst into tears. In her young life she had only been around women and a male figure was something new and somewhat disconcerting… especially the beard!

The road from there to here has been an amazing one. The infant who cried when she first saw me performed with her Irish Dance Class on St. Patrick’s Day and went ice skating with me yesterday… is reading at an eighth grade level and is full of love and amazing opinions.

The girls step out!

The girls step out!

The process of adoption is like an elephant pregnancy… to say the least it is long and nerve wracking. At the end of the road is boundless love… and a lifetime of family.

‘Could you bring my book downstairs?’ she says to Vanessa? The answer, of course, is ‘Yes!’

I cannot imagine life without her. She is my heart of hearts.

Welcome home Izze… on this day and every day!

'I think I'll have the udon... plain please...

'I think I'll have the udon... plain please...

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

From Spirited Away To The Wind Rises

March 17th, 2014 Jorma 6 comments

For those of you familiar with Hayao Miyazaki, this little entry needs no elucidation. I first became aware of his work when we took our much younger daughter to see Ponyo. As parents of an adopted child, this masterpiece really had some resonance with us as adults… and the little one liked it too. Last night we went to see his most recent American release, The Wind Rises. This anime feature was a historical drama, and the youngsters didn’t get it in the same way that I, born in the early years of WWII, did. Of course those of us of a certain age, will remember Jiro as the designer of that most famous of Mitsubishi planes… the Zero… that very fast but under armored Zeke.

Anyway, thanks to my daughter, I have now seen almost all of Miyazaki’s films. You will need to see, Spirited Away, Castle In The Sky, and Howl’s Moving Castle.

I don’t know why Miyazaki’s work has resonated to deeply with me, but I’m going to catch up on the rest of it and I’ll find out.

And you should too!

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags: