Home > Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Hot Tuna, Thoughts > On The Eve Of The Second Weekend At The Fur Peace Ranch

On The Eve Of The Second Weekend At The Fur Peace Ranch

Well, my old pal Mr. Casady came in last night and at noon today we are going to do an interview for Weekend Edition on NPR. It’s amazing how many people are coming out of the woodwork to talk about Steady As She Goes, our new CD.

Normally I don’t respond to people’s opinions about my work… I mean after all, an opinion is an opinion and I sure have plenty of the myself. In any case I got to thinking about the gentleman who took issue with our rendition of Children Of Zion. First of all… the guitar I’m playing is not a Les Paul. It’s a Chet Atkins SST which is sort of an electric/acoustic guitar with the same strings on it that I use on the good old Jorma Kaukonen Martin M-30. The sound one hears on this cut from my guitar is amplified through a Oahu Steel Guitar amp from the 30’s. I certainly did not record this version of the Reverend’s tune in a light hearted way. There really are no light hearted songs on this project… not even Mama Let Me Lay It On You or Vicksboro Stomp. Now of course, art is in the eye and ear of the beholder so I would never argue any of these points with anyone. There are plenty of players out there who can play Rev. Davis’ music more authentically than I. That has always been the case and the good news for me is that at this point in my life I only have to sound like me. All this said, I love our version of Zion because it is so different. If you think about my version of Death Don’t Have No Mercy, my arrangement does not even really follow the Rev.’s chord changes.

In the spirit of this conversation, I read a review of my song ‘Things That Might Have Been,’ and the reviewer didn’t like my use of phrases like, ‘In the garden of life, nothing blooms on it’s own.’ Well… You just can’t please everyone that’s for sure… but you can be honest, and that’s what I am. I know some stellar song writers… Guy Clark, Verlon Thompson, Jim Lauderdale… These guys and those like them write song after great song many of which are recorded by other artists resulting in ‘Mailbox Money,’ which we all love. I would love if some big star recorded one of my songs (I smell college fund) but that’s not why I write songs. My songs are almost always in some way a chronicle of my life and that’s all I can do.

Hey listen… it really is all good. I can’t believe that at this point in my life, people are still inviting dialogue about my work. How much better than that does it get? Maybe I’ll write a song about it.

OK, moving on. Jack and Barry and I as acoustic Hot Tuna will be holding forth at the Fur Peace Station this weekend and then it’s off to Florida and then back to the Ranch and then off to New York City. I must have lost my mind to say yes to all this, but what the heck? This is what I love to do.

OK, opinions about art, mine or others, never rubs me the wrong way. There are other opinions that make me crazy but these aren’t they. How much better that that…. wait a minute. It does get better than that. Yesterday my almost five year old daughter Izze and I went to fly a kite after school. We were on the soccer field at OU and it was very windy. We got that Star Wars Kite up the minute I let go of it. I was the handler and Izze was the pilot. We had all the string on the reel up in the air. After about a half an hour of flying she reeled all the twine in, picked up her kite and put it in the back of my Jeep with a smile of satisfaction on her face. We went home, cooked hamburgers together and watched half of American Idol together.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Hot Tuna, Thoughts Tags:
  1. Dr Rob Cohen
    April 7th, 2011 at 10:59 | #1

    Jorma,,thank you for the “stellar” new album( CD). Another phase in the road of Hot Tuna. It is nothing less then fantastic. There’s an opinion (review). I look foward to the next one !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. mutt
    April 7th, 2011 at 11:21 | #2

    In the words of some unknown famous pontificator, ‘. . . opinions are like A-holes – know why? Cuz I don’t wanna hear yours.’

    Fandambtastic CD guys n gals – ‘course that’s just my opinion . . . speaking out my A-hole . . .


  3. Brett E
    April 7th, 2011 at 12:15 | #3

    Spending quality time with the Wee One……And Bandmates…And Family in General

    Agreed….That is THE Best it gets!!

  4. bill wastrel
    April 7th, 2011 at 12:21 | #4

    what a wonderful new cd. please do not wait another twenty years to get to the next one. i love hft’s rendition of “children of zion” and have added it to my playlist and it has been well received at my gigs and open mics. here’s hoping that the tuna gang gets down here to florida real soon (no wanee does not count!)
    …we are starved for good music. pure music. gotta thank you for that.

  5. Ken
    April 7th, 2011 at 12:21 | #5

    I’m no critic, but I like what I like, and I like Steady As She Goes. I’m not a scholar of the Blues, but I sure know more about the roots of rock & roll from listening to Jorma & Hot Tuna all these years. Thanks the education and for another high quality album.

    You must be doing something right to be blessed with favoring winds and an afternoon to fly a kite with your daughter.

  6. April 7th, 2011 at 14:06 | #6


    Read your little comment about you losing your mind to say yes to all this. I often wondered how you do all this. Touring, fpr, interviews, young daughter. Seems like you have a lot on your plate. I only wish that I had that much energy.I get stressed out thinking about just flying across the country to visit my Dad. It seems like you definitely enjoy every minute of it. I think that is awesome!

    And about the new Cd,I have been listening to you and hot Tuna since the mid 70s (I’m sure you have heard this before). In my opinion this is the best Hot Tuna Record to date. Just my opinion.

  7. Dave Millard
    April 7th, 2011 at 16:46 | #7

    β€˜In the garden of life, nothing blooms on it’s own.’ – I call it poetry. What do I know. Jorma, you should try your hand at writing books – you have a real way with words that is obvious in all of your blog posts. I really enjoy reading them. By the way, “some big star”? I think you are creating a musical legacy that will endure longer than a lot of the “big stars” out there today..unfortunately musical legacies don’t translate into “college fund” too well I guess. You’ll just have to create more albums, so we can buy them!

    BTW, mentioning flying kites made me think of the finale to the movie “Mary Poppins”. Has Izze heard or seen that?

  8. Joanne
    April 7th, 2011 at 17:53 | #8

    I love your new CD it’s just the best! Thanks Jorma& Jack!!

  9. April 7th, 2011 at 23:14 | #9

    Absolutely love the new album. I was expecting great things and it exceeded those expectations. Love the version of Children of Zion. The production is dead-on, rich, vibrant – the sound is so good! Thanks so much and congrats to you, the band and Larry Campbell for creating something that totally got me out of the bad mood I was in!

  10. Joe Moore
    April 8th, 2011 at 04:20 | #10

    Jorma , Go Fly a Kite !!!! …….often and do it with that precious little girl . This all goes way too fast ! My little girls are 24 and 18 . Your writing is thought provoking and your music will live on for a long , long time . Your schedule is so full. I don’t see you planning for retirement . Congratulations ! I’m getting the CD this weekend . Peace !

  11. Howard Monaghan
    April 8th, 2011 at 09:42 | #11

    The new album rocks! I am absolutely loving it, and the tune that dances around in my head the most is Children of Zion. Tuna sounds better than ever!!

  12. craig healy
    April 8th, 2011 at 10:32 | #12

    Great new cd guys see you out on the road

  13. Tommy Lee in St. Louis
    April 8th, 2011 at 10:50 | #13

    Steady As She Goes is wonderful. It shows many facets of the current band, what a talented bunch you are…and I can’t believe you got Jack to take a bass solo!

    Now, may I request that you book a date in St. Louis? We drove to Ohio to hear Electric Hot Tuna last year, but that trip can’t be repeated any time soon.

  14. greg young
    April 8th, 2011 at 11:50 | #14

    Jorma –

    Thanks for your reply. I am taught not to criticize and I forgot that for a moment.
    I was disappointed and complained. It is your artistic vision, who am I to say anything? You are one of the few people I have heard that can do RGD justice.
    I apologize. Now, will someone call me a waaambulance?
    On a positive note, I am available to produce your next album, criticize = volunteer I always say πŸ™‚

  15. Jim Shearburn
    April 8th, 2011 at 13:54 | #15

    Jorma, greetings to you, Vanessa, Izzie, Hurl and the rest of the FPR family. I have missed you guys, not being able to attend the ranch for the last few years. I just completed and sent my application for Logan and me to attend in November. looking forward to it. Geneva sends her love as well. I am signing up for Dar’s songwriting workshop, Logan selected the flat picking session. He is building guitars as an apprentice here in ST Louis and has a deep interest in acoustic music.

    I wanted to belatedly thank you for the wonderful comments you made about our son Cullen, his Iraq combat tour and the healing he experienced by attending the Ranch. It was very moving and, as a veteran myself, I appreciate what you and vanessa do to support our warriors. We appreciate it greatly. Thats all, see you all in November, more will be revealed …. love and peace Jim Shearburn

  16. James E Fletcher
    April 8th, 2011 at 18:18 | #16

    Screw the critics, Steady as She Goes rocks! I love it. It is long overdue. Children of Zion sounds just fine to me, I have no idea where that critic is coming from. I am a long time fan, so I feel that my opinion can be a bit jaded, but hey we’re not talking about some modern rock group, we’re talking about Hot Tuna! In fact, I have been cranking this album nonstop. I have no problem with anything on the album. It sounds great, the lyrics are pretty typically Jorma(if you know Jorma that is,) and the group is really tight. Salute Jorma, Jack, and crew!

  17. James E Fletcher
    April 8th, 2011 at 18:19 | #17

    By the way, Skoota deserves a shout out too.

  18. Doug Israel
    April 8th, 2011 at 22:17 | #18


    I downloaded the CD the day it was released from Amazon.com. Let me tell you I am very impressed. The songs are excellent and really run the gambut from all the sounds that make up the classic sounds of Hot Tuna from back in the day. I really enjoyed the backup singing as well. I look forward to exploring these songs again and again. Congratulations.

  19. rob
    April 9th, 2011 at 05:07 | #19

    Hi Jorma,
    Not being a musician the best criticism I could give would be silence. That said, in my mind the status of “Burgers” is unattainable. But “Steady As She Goes” comes close. The format is similar and the team you assembled for this project is stellar! I really like all of your solo projects, but there’s nothing like a Tuna album! You can be real proud of this effort. I’ll be looking forward to hearing a lot of it tonight at the Station!

  20. John L
    April 9th, 2011 at 10:53 | #20

    There are some photos from the NPR radio interview on the “WOUB Public Media” Facebook site. Says will be broadcast on April 23 & 24.

  21. Tony Boy
    April 9th, 2011 at 21:34 | #21

    C’mon Jorma,
    Who the heck cares about some guys opinion….You are “JORMA F*&#in Kaukonen”, as good and authentic as they come…A great album …Kudos to you, the band and Mr. Campbell….
    “Feel the Love” from a true longtime New York City Hot Tuna fan…

  22. Richard
    April 9th, 2011 at 23:32 | #22

    In any garden nothing really blooms on it’s own.The more care and love put into it..the better the results..Really digging the new c.d. from what I’ve heard so far.Best to all at F.P.R. I love this blog as well or should I say… Forum?

  23. paul
    April 10th, 2011 at 15:07 | #23

    You said it all and you said it right. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but you certainly do not have to apologize for your music–or anything else I can think of at the moment πŸ™‚

  24. Eaglesteve
    April 11th, 2011 at 10:27 | #24

    APRIL 11. Happy Birthday to Jim Lauderdale.

  25. Rob Weber
    April 11th, 2011 at 15:09 | #25

    Absolutely love this CD. Keep them coming!

    Rob Weber

  26. Ed W
    April 13th, 2011 at 15:50 | #26

    Ahh critics, were we all experts. I like what you say about opinion; everybody has them. I think they can be an opportunity to discern about something. Some offer opinions that sound like facts but are merely impression based, we are all casualties of the electronic age moving us closer and further away at the same time.
    I look forward to playing back the cd in the gym while I worship on the treadmill, keeps me saner. I have always experienced the music you guys do as a reflection of yourselves; the performances were distinctly different because I felt like I was watching a rehearsal you guys invited us too. You were always in the moment; like any other superlative act from then until now.
    While one may argue that music has changed the world (in some ways it has) I think the significant point is that it has changed ourselves. Like prayer changes us not the world, it also brings a grace to enhance what we do and how we experience things. For that I will always thank you guys for enhancing that experience with your passion for the form.
    Of course, I welcome variant opinions…

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