Ohio State's Marching Band's First Cursive Outing... 1930's

Ohio State's Marching Band's First Cursive Outing... 1930's

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

I have had the distinct honor to become friends with Dr. Michael Drake, the president of Ohio State University. President Drake invited me to be a part of a class he was giving with Alan Michaels the dean of the The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law on the Supreme Court And Civil Rights. Now it’s been a long time since I’ve been involved with organized academics of any sort so to be invited to speak in this university setting was an honor indeed!

The Supreme Court And Civil Rights… this is heady stuff and certainly a realm most Americans should probably concern themselves with. What could I offer to anyone in this setting? As a sidebar, this class also concerned itself with the music of the times and one of the times they were concerned with was the 1950’s through the 1960’s. I went to Antioch College in Yellow Springs in 1959 and aside from meeting guitar players there who would change my life, we also marched. One of the marches we did was at the barber shop in Yellow Springs which was totally segregated at that time. Now I never went on any of the Freedom Marches in the South, so I’m not patting myself on the back here, but I was at the barber shop.

Now the music of the late 50’s through the 60′ had a relevance to social change in a way that I just don’t see happening today. Yeah, I know… old guy stuff. Anyway, the music was and is part of my mainspring so that’s what I focused on.

Holding forth in the mahogany panelled room...

Holding forth in the mahogany panelled room...

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

I’m normally not comfortable with public speaking, although I’m getting better at it. Funny for a guy who makes his living doing stuff in front of other people. Anyway, the students made me welcome and I got to entertain some questions and play a couple of songs, which for me is where the rubber really meets the road.

Playing says more than talking

Playing says more than talking

I played two Rev. Gary Davis tunes, Death Don’t Have No Mercy and I Am The Light Of This World. I closed out with one of mine, Embryonic Journey. Some of the students got fired up when I talked about Rev. Davis and looked him up after the class. When I am asked what I am most proud of in my life, my answer always is, ‘After my family and my children, introducing people to Rev. Gary Davis is at the top of the list!’

After class group shot

After class group shot

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

Think about this. Ohio State is a very big school… but also a has small school attributes. Where else could a freshman take a class hosted by the dean of the law school, the president of the university and also have a guest who survived the 60’s and is in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame!

President Drake and me!

President Drake and me!

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen


  1. Comment made on April 18, 2017 by PJK

    Hard to overstate how important “Harlem Street Singer” is to me. The Power of The Rev cannot be denied. I was introduced to the music of this giant through your albums and for that I am forever grateful. But, not just the Rev…. Blind Blake, John Hurt, Lemmon Jefferson et al.

    So great that you got to share some of your life experiences with the millenials.

    Can’t wait to read all about it in the book. 🙂

  2. Comment made on April 10, 2017 by Mark K

    You look good in the jacket, just missing the leather patches on the elbows and the pipe

  3. Comment made on April 10, 2017 by Bennett Horowitz

    I hope those students appreciated what a cool college experience this was. And by the way, thanks for introducing all of us to Rev. Gary Davis. I learned my guitar licks from Ian Buchanan, but only because you & Jack put it out there…on WNEW-FM in NYC back in 1970.

  4. Comment made on April 10, 2017 by eaglesteve

    Ah Zissan Pesach to the Kaukonens and the extended Tuna Nation.
    See you Saturday in Staten Island.

  5. Comment made on April 10, 2017 by Steve Goldston

    Mazel Tov Professor! My Dad was OSU class of 1957. I’m class of 1990 Graduate school. Proud to have you. So how about being my guest at at an OSU football game this fall?

  6. Comment made on April 10, 2017 by carey georgas

    “For evil to succeed, all it needs is for good men to do nothing.” Dr. King said that, or something like it. You may not have been a freedom rider, but you did do something, and for that you deserve a pat on the back. I think it’s great that you had a chance to show the relevance of it all to today’s young people. That’s Onward, with a capital “O”.

  7. Comment made on April 9, 2017 by HOGAN

    What an honor….
    “Our Mission Is To Teach”


  8. Comment made on April 9, 2017 by Mark K

    Professor Kaukonen: I would have taken your class [Brooklyn College 1973], but I think 47 years of great shows is just fine. Its good to see that today at least not all College students today are intolerant and closed minded. You cant beat good music as a bonding and a learning tool. By the way, see you in Staten Island on Saturday not 10 minutes from home, always a treat- Try Pho Mac [1407 Richmond Ave] good Pho can’t be beat either.

  9. Comment made on April 9, 2017 by Brian Doyle

    Reverend Gary Davis…Finger steppin, banjo-pickin style:


  10. Comment made on April 8, 2017 by jim hitchcock

    Maybe 10 years of reading the blog and everyday I am reminded that Jorma is everyman, and that music is the language that connects us all. Thank you for that, brougham.

  11. Comment made on April 8, 2017 by Brett

    Your post brought me back to when, a few years ago, I saw you, Stefan Grossman, and Ernie Hawkins participate in a panel discussion about The Rev at my Alma Mater, UNC Chapel Hill in Wilson Library. (Wilson was where I would study (and cram!!) in “the stacks”……This was before Davis Library was built…Wilson now houses UNC’s special collections)

    After the panel discussion, you guys played some tunes in the Student Union.

    Not only was that a very cool, informative, entertaining night, it was also a big dose of World’s Colliding for me….

    Anyhoo….Way to Go Professor Captain Jorma

  12. Comment made on April 7, 2017 by DennisK

    O.U. Oh Yeah!

  13. Comment made on April 7, 2017 by gregg

    did david peel make an exit! g

  14. Comment made on April 7, 2017 by John S.

    Jorma, Very cool! I too am very grateful for you introduced me to the music of Rev. Gary Davis. Thru you I also got to meet Marjorie, Rory Block, Roy Bookbinder, Spencer Bohren and Woody Mann. Many thanks!!! Looking forward to seeing you play in Cincinnati in July. John S.

  15. Comment made on April 7, 2017 by carlo pagliano

    Happy wow de luxe to see The Captain to shed lustre on The Ohio State University!

  16. Comment made on April 7, 2017 by Jim Bacon

    Wow, that is awesome Jorma.. need to get more kids fired up!

  17. Comment made on April 7, 2017 by Richard

    Jorma you sure are spending some time giving back,Ohio State, the shows in Brooklyn and Long Island next week..Keep up the good vibes..Thanks Brother

  18. Comment made on April 7, 2017 by eaglesteve

    Who would have thunk (and thunk)…..Dr. Captain. Lucky students! Did you give an “a___ test” afterwards?

  19. Comment made on April 7, 2017 by willy

    I too have Jorma to thank for introducing me to the music of the Reverend. I knew who he was from repeated listens to that first Hot Tuna record and subsequent recordings, but it wasn’t until I was listening to my college radio station (WUNH, Durham NH) in ’78 that I first heard the good Reverend. Figuring there was no chance of finding his records in the local vinyl store, I went straight to the radio studios and asked to borrow the album (Children of Zion – Live). The DJ didn’t hesitate and even dug out a few others, saying return ’em at your convenience. Thus started a love of Gary Davis’s music – and those who keep playing it for us to hear – that continues to today. Education comes in many forms at our universities. So…thanks Jorma.

  20. Comment made on April 6, 2017 by Ham n Eggs

    First Cursive outing1930?
    Was that scripted?
    My own personal thanks for turning me on to the Reverend.
    Each page has a beauty of it’s own as it unfolds.
    Love All Ways

  21. Comment made on April 6, 2017 by johno

    Very heady stuff – Professor Kaukonen. Ohio State is one of the top schools in the entire nation.

  22. Comment made on April 6, 2017 by tom

    Did talking with the students bring up any old memories you can put in your memoir?

    When it comes time to promote your book, you’ll become an old pro at talks like this.

  23. Comment made on April 6, 2017 by carey georgas

    Mighty damned cool.

  24. Comment made on April 6, 2017 by Sweetbac Jr.

    now if THIS had happened at my community college, I’d a stayed in school.

  25. Comment made on April 6, 2017 by JD

    Holy Moly! Talk about an amazing class. That is very cool. When do you take it on the road? 🙂

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