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Obervations From The Road

February 15th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Hello folks:

This note has been a long time coming and at some point in the foreseeable future it will become written policy on our/my tour page. It concerns autographs and such. I got a letter from a disgruntled fan the other night because I walked past him to get into a van that would take me and the rest of the band to the hotel. The gentleman who wrote me the note took extreme umbrage at this and was personally offended. I will readily admit that I could have handled the situation differently. I could have said, ‘I am a seventy year old man who has just gotten off stage… I am soaked with sweat and I have been at this venue since two thirty in the afternoon. I’m going to get some sleep.’ I’ll accept this criticism as valid. What I will not accept, is criticism like this:

‘There are wars going on and young women and men are giving up their life for this country and you cannot scribble your name on a CD cover or smile for a quick photograph…’

I do not see what being an entertainer has to do with our heroic men and women who answer the call to duty and serve our country. Hot Tuna has done it’s small part to honor our heroes. We have been allowed to be able to go to Walter Reed Hospital and play for some of these folks. The Fur Peace Ranch and I offer scholarships for returning vets from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, blah, blah, blah. I do my part, small though it may be.

Buying a ticket to a show entitles one to see that show, nothing else… everything else is gravy. We have recently been beset by people who, after shows, show up with stacks of the same picture, pickguards, guitars and guitar parts as well as stacks of the same records and CD’s. We are not here to help people with their Ebay adventures. I will not be signing any more guitars or parts. Some of these offenders have been showing up at our hotels. I consider this stalking.

I find it interesting that though I find myself accused of being insensitive to others feelings, that there are people who consider that any time I am seen in public that my time is theirs. When I am on stage, my time is theirs and I give it my very best every night. I have been doing this for almost fifty years. When I am in a restaurant either alone or with my wife and daughter and someone comes up and says, ‘I don’t mean to bother you but…’ Guess what? It might be a bother.

I am honored that I/we have had an audience that has supported our art for a very long time. That is a blessing that cannot be quantified. That fact that someone who may not have even been to the show follows the bus to the hotel and blocks the door, is another story. After one of the Beacon shows in December, when we got to our hotel there were four or five large men at the door. When we tried to get in, one of the guys called my wife a name that begins with ‘C.’

As always, the behavior of the few affects everyone.

If someone is seeking an autograph and cannot get one at the gig, sending a self addressed, stamped envelope to us at the Fur peace Ranch will get it done. If we can do it in a moderately orderly fashion at the gig we will do it. If not, no insult is intended.

The real world is not an unpleasant place. Most people I meet are genuine and delightful. Considering what I do for a living, this might seem a little odd, but being surrounded by a crowd makes me extremely nervous. Genuine and delightful or not, when I am surrounded I feel at risk. So be it.

I love what I do… I appreciate our fans more than anyone can imagine. They have allowed us to do what we do for a very long time. I would like to think that honoring them with the very best show that we can muster would be good enough.

Enough hot air for now…


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  1. Mike T
    February 17th, 2011 at 09:23 | #1

    I can understand where you are coming from. Personally, I never seek an autograph unless it is in a situation where I know it is welcome. I have seen you many times over the years, and even at a venue like the Tabernacle in Mt.Tabor, where I have seen every one of your shows, I would never think I had to “right” to ask you for an autograph unless it was clear it was ok to do so (and believe me the situation at the Tabernacle is one where it seems like the artist is very approachable (even if they may not be). Twice, in Mt. Tabor, while I was waiting (I was the first in line waitin for hours to sit in the front row and watch your hands as you play – I play too (not as good of course)), I made a nice “hello” or “hey” comment to you and you responded back in kind. That was enough for me.

    In addition, when the album “Blue Country Heart” was released and was announced as a Multi-Channel SACD, I wrote an e-mail to FPR management to confirm. You couldn’t believe how surprised I was to actually get a personal response directly from you. I wasn’t expecting that!!!

    So, and I address this to the people who might have read your post and thought otherwise, but Jorma is a really nice guy, from the few times I had miniscule encounters with him. But as he said, his time is his time (when he isn’t on stage) and it doesn’t mean any fool can bother him for their own personal satisfaction.

    Thanks for letting me post this.

  2. Mark Ennis
    February 17th, 2011 at 09:39 | #2

    There was a time when back in 1972-1977 meeting you guys really meant something to me. I was 14 back then and you guys were my heroes , No Sports figures , movie stars or otherwise famous mattered to me. During the eighties , ninties and beyond I have had the pleasure of saying Hello to both you and Jack. Just a quick recognition and off I went. I feel musically I know you guys quite well. Personally I get fleeting glimpes when I read Jorma’s Blog. When I go the ranch and see Tuna I just enjoy seeing you guys on your home turf. During or after the show if we pass each other I just say hi and move on. Will I stop saying hello if I happen to cross your path I do not think so BUT I will never impose myself on you guys. Just a wave , an acknowledgment , a nod of the head or a simple hello.
    What really matters is that I continue to listen to my Favorite Musicians Jack & Jorma play live. Thats what I really enjoy , as long as you guys are willing to give me that I will continue to take. In turn You guys get my respect and admiration.

  3. Snugs
    February 17th, 2011 at 16:17 | #3

    Hey Jorma –
    hang in there!
    You have always been more than gracious w your fans

    We definitely appreciate your efforts you put into your craft – onstage and off!
    You share it w us so graciously!

    A drag to hear that some “collectors” think they have a right to paw at you!
    Nobody should be selling your stuff online!

    I have chatted w you numerous times for over 25 yrs and you have always been cool w me
    Sorry a few pushy creeps have to give you a hard time.
    Please know your real fans are considerate of your efforts and appreciate that you are a person and not just some celeb for them to man handle!

    ** w that said…

  4. Todd E
    February 17th, 2011 at 16:43 | #4

    I’m thankful Jorma is still out there playing his wonderful music and doing so many gigs all over the place. His devotion to his music and music-loving fans is evident every time he takes the stage! I feel fortunate to have been to shows now for 40 years! Who needs signatures — it’s all about the music. Thanks, Jorma!!!

    PS — I have prominently poster at home signed by Jorma and artist Ken Pisani from the NYC Palladium gigs in 1976…had it for many, many years.

  5. greg souza
    February 17th, 2011 at 17:51 | #5

    Talked to Jorma for a few short minutes in the parking lot of the hotel the bus was parked here in Missoula.Shook his hand,and thanked him for comming to this out of the way place.He was very nice,the show was fantastic and he is welcome here anytime.Thank you for being you.

  6. February 17th, 2011 at 21:38 | #6

    It saddens me that some people lack enough decency and respect to realize that an artist, like anyone else, has a private, off stage life where his/her time belongs to no one else. We are all entitled to be free from the petitions of others on our own time.

    That being said, I have found you guys to be, on stage, personable and gracious to your audiences, something that you can’t say about every artist. I recall one of Jorma’s concerts, last year at the Patriot Stage in Trenton, the seating arrangement was warm and intimate, a lot like listening to a concert in your own living room. There was a lot of banter back and forth between the artists and the crowd. I sat directly in front of Jorma and was able to ask him about a tenor guitar Barry was playing, which I had never seen before, Jorma took the time to explain, and didn’t just blow me off.

    That goes for the entire troupe of musicians on this tour. A number of years ago, Barry gave a concert at our local synogogue with another group he tours with (the Klezmer Mountain Boys). I brought my daughter with me who was then 10 years old, and had been playing guitar and fiddle (still does), After the concert, Barry stuck around and talked to the stragglers. I introduced my daughter to Barry, and she shyly told him about her musical interests. Barry not only took the time to talk to her, but handed her his mandolin (mandolin and fiddle finger positions are similar) and showed her a few chords. I’ll never forget it.

    I think that’s one of the reasons she still enjoys going to see artists with me.

    Anyway, you guys are first rate. Please don’t let the inconsiderate actions of a few individuals change the way you interact with your audiences.

  7. lenny purnell
    February 18th, 2011 at 22:58 | #7

    Hey Jorma
    I think your right. These guys are trying to make a buck and thats it.I don’t think they care about what you are about. Which is good music and teaching others what you know. Most of the people who are there for the show understand that it might not suite to stop and do autographs. Anyway you’ve done your share if you never did another. Plus many times I’ve seen you come out after the show and shoot the breeze.I’m glad I don’t have to do that after a day a work. I’ve been to FPR a few times.You are a hard worker, so is Vanessa! There’s alot of people who think the world of you guy’s.You hang in there Capt! Thanks for helping me play guitar better!! Lenny

  8. Michael Maksimik
    February 19th, 2011 at 23:43 | #8

    Hey Jorma,
    I found your observations to be right on point.Somehow,the so-called entertainment media has convinced the public-at-large that anyone with any celebrity status automatically gives up all right to personal privacy.Who wrote these rules & where are they published?Also,what happened to plain old good manners?Anyone who calls a woman a foul name just shows a lack of basic decency.As you stated,you buy a ticket
    you’re entitled to a performance & it ends there.Fans who approach artists while with their spouses,children,at meals or in the bathroom(I mean who really wants to shake hands there)are just completely out of line.I’m glad you saw fit to post this,realizing there are always some people waiting to find fault.I’ve enjoyed seeing you since the Airplane days & will continue to as long as you see fit to do so.

  9. Bill F
    February 22nd, 2011 at 13:40 | #9

    Jorma — someone finally had to say it, and you did so most eloquently. I enjoyed an encounter with you and Jack back in the Airplane era, and found that you were both nice, “regular” guys. To me, bugging and entertainer when s/he is off duty is like hitting up a doctor or lawyer at a party for free advice. People in the US need to be reacquanted with the concept of manners!

    Thanks again for all the good music and for being such an energetic role model for us Boomers.


  10. Craig Venzke
    February 27th, 2011 at 10:43 | #10

    jes wanna reiterate agreement that you are completely entitled to your privacy and mean people suck. we think you guys are the best thing since sliced bread. roll on!

  11. John C
    March 1st, 2011 at 20:55 | #11

    Jorma, I am sorry that you need to devote any time at all to discussing this completely inappropriate behavior. Some people don’t get it and its sad but you are not public property and your family is sacred. That dude needs to have his thinking re-calibrated.
    Thanks for every note, every word, every gesture between you and your band mates. Hopefully some day I will get to sit with you at The Ranch and hammer out some tunes. Until then, stay blessed not stressed. John NYC / S.Fl

    I apologize for commenting on the wrong page…

  12. Doug Israel
    April 3rd, 2011 at 18:40 | #12

    Jorma I just saw this as I haven’t been on your site in a while. I just wanted to let you know that I fully understand where you are coming from. I live in NYC and I have always felt extremely reluctant to approach ANY celebrity I see at any time. I realize that though we feel like we know you you do not know us at all. A few years ago I emailed your wife and asked if you guys could donate something for my Synagogue’s fundraising auction. You graciously provided a poster signed by you and Jack. Which was won by a devoted fan. Keep doing what you are doing for as long as you possibly can.

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