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Winter Vortex & Summer Dreams

February 15th, 2021 Leave a comment Go to comments

Yesterday I spent almost four hours manhandling five hundred pounds of salt melt on our driveway… which is almost a quarter of a mile long. Myron and I got back from Nashville just in time to miss the storm there, and welcome the storm here. The live music experience is always rewarding and in an odd way, so is dealing with winter. I enjoy the physicality of it and am more than grateful that at 80 I still have the strength and endurance to do so. I remember getting frostbite back in Jãmtland in northern Sweden back in the 70’s. At least I learned to feel that coming so I can avoid it. Hard earned knowledge is priceless.

Today the girls and I shoveled and spread more salt for a couple of hours… trimming the morning’s accumulation and getting ready for the onslaught of the evening storm.

A little earlier as I was writing down some guitar serial numbers I got a call from my old friend John Hammond, the great blues artist. He and I have been friends for sixty two years. We were both at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio in 1959 when he brought tapes of what we would come to know as the two Robert Johnson LP’s from New York. John was already well versed in the idiom and I was just starting out. Rev. Davis called out to me in a more approachable way as far as a musical direction but back then we were surrounded by the great ones, many of whom were still alive. Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howling Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson (both one and two), Hubert Sumlin, Champion Jack Dupree, John Lee Hooker… so many great ones. I would see John Lee at Gerde’s Folk City in 1960. He was surrounded by beautiful ladies. Blues was looking good to say the least.

John would become the John Hammond we know within six months with a Columbia record deal and gigs across the country. I would move to California in 1962 and finish college at the University Of Santa Clara while I developed my style and ability to perform. John would stop by Santa Clara in late ’62 on his way north after gigs in LA. He was driving a ’56 Ford Victoria… Black and white with a white interior. Glass packs and fender skirts, of course… We hung out together for a couple of days and drove up to Fremont before the three digit interstates. We hiked through the cliffs surrounded by petroglyphs. Two young friends starting on a path that would become the highway of their lives. The petroglyphs are gone having made way for an eight lane highway, but the two friends are still here and still playing music.

The rise of 60’s ‘modern’ rock and roll changed my world in more ways than I can really count but without that time spent playing tiny coffee houses with a guitar and sometimes a mike, none of that would have happened. To be so fortunate to realize that you have a true calling when you are young is miraculous! As I transited from being Jerry Kaukonen the folk singer to being Jorma Kaukonen the lead guitar for Jefferson Airplane I experienced a dimensional shift. Life is indeed a funny old dog.

On a cold, grey, snowy day it is good to have these thoughts to keep one’s soul warm.

Mine is warm indeed…

The summer I have been thinking about today has nothing to do with seasons…

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  1. John B
    February 15th, 2021 at 17:49 | #1

    Beautifully written Jorma and thank you for sharing…….

  2. Ed
    February 15th, 2021 at 20:06 | #2

    Amen.

  3. Dan Nigro
    February 15th, 2021 at 20:14 | #3

    You are an inspired storyteller with or without a guitar. As for the driveway I can only suggest a flamethrower. Stay safe and be well

  4. Chappy
    February 15th, 2021 at 20:20 | #4

    Amen as well! Count my blessings to have enjoyed your’s and John Hammond’s music many times over the years (live in person and on records vinyl, CDs, etc) in addition to Muddy, John Lee, B.B., Buddy, Gatemouth, Robert Jr., and so many more. Thank you for the art and magic of music!

  5. BrendanC
    February 15th, 2021 at 21:24 | #5

    Frostbight?
    Shit, man.

  6. Eric C
    February 15th, 2021 at 22:49 | #6

    That’s a lot of salt. Plus the shoveling is impressive at any age. I want to know your secret. Besides the Jorma’s choice muscle balm. I’m already using that.

  7. Gary Dion
    February 16th, 2021 at 13:55 | #7

    A pleasure to read your warm thoughts on another frozen day in Minnesota. Thank you.

  8. Ric Siler
    February 16th, 2021 at 15:28 | #8

    Beautiful reflections, Jorma. While sometimes I wish I had found my path earlier, I wouldn’t be where I am now if I had done anything differently so there you go. So anyway . . . lovin’ what you are bringing with your Quarantine concerts . . . it’s a staple of the Siler diet!

  9. February 16th, 2021 at 18:31 | #9

    Sonny Boy Williamson…….I’m more familiar with #2. He is an artist I never get tired of hearing. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Gatemouth at the Rehoboth Jazz Fest about twenty years ago. He filled me in on what sheriffing was like in St. Tammany Parish down in bayou country. The cat could make his guitar talk. Gate was the undisputed master of the key of E – he capoed all over the place. Awesome right hand. As far as junior goes….it was in your stars.

  10. Joe K
    February 16th, 2021 at 21:06 | #10

    I was in Philadelphia March of ’77 to watch a Sixers/ Knicks Bball game. Afterward we drove to the Tower Theater. BB King was playing with the James Cotton Band. Half way through the show Johnny Winter joined them on stage. The crowd which was dressed to the nine’s was rockin all night. This was a spur of the moment show for us that turned into a unforgettable night.

  11. Dale Radeleff
    February 16th, 2021 at 21:56 | #11

    Your stories are as fascinating as your Music, I am envious of your life, I was born 13 years too late. I have been bitten by the bug and a lot of it is your fault, Thank You, I won’t tell my wife that though, I don’t want her to think you’re the reason I bought ANOTHER guitar yesterday. An Ovation Celebrity, needs new sound hole graphics but they are on the way. $650 guitar for $275. I adjusted the bridge and the action is minimally light, with the narrower neck it will be perfect for my stubby fingers. Still looking for a deal on a Martin though.

    Vanessa made a comment at the beginning of #7 that her thighs look big, NOT, My wife Bev said she doesn’t look older then 40 and her thighs are fine. Got my shipment of shirts, etc… You guys have a terrific week, see you next Saturday, can you play Embryonic Journey for me please?

  12. February 16th, 2021 at 22:27 | #12

    It just tickles me so much that two of my best guitar inspirations also happen to be longstanding friends, and both knew my brief tutor, Ian. AND…both are still playing!! Looking forward to seeing both of you here in Woodstock, NY before long.

  13. carey georgas
    February 17th, 2021 at 08:27 | #13

    It’s freezing’ down in Texas, all the power lines are down. Tried to start my heater, man, it wouldn’t even make a sound. Freakin’ 21st century schizoid, man.

  14. Philip Nola
    February 17th, 2021 at 13:38 | #14

    Stay warm my friend..The seasons change, not always when we want them to or expect them to.

  15. Art
  16. richard
    February 20th, 2021 at 00:02 | #16

    hello jorma,love when you bring up the years and times of your friend john hammond.he is a walking text of some of the finest players of the past.as for the weather…hang on more comin..whats that tune you do so wellbout the march winds?