So it’s been a busy week filled with things that were occasionally frustrating, often rewarding and never dull. Last Thursday my pal Smiles and I were working in my barn/shop replacing the ballast in some fluorescent lighting. My phone made that noise that tells me that the Weather Channel was trying to warn us about something. I looked down and there was a warning that a lightning storm was approaching. A lighting event was only four miles away. I looked at the radar. It looked like it was going to just miss us so we kept on working. Looking up, the sky looked like the Mind Flayer from Stranger Things was suddenly hovering over us. I had to rethink my position. A little rain. How bad could it be? The Mind Flayer cloud wrapped itself over the Fur Peace Ranch and in the blink of an eye we were deluged with rain. Hurl was running to his truck to close the sun roof and as we looked out into the rain, the parking lot lit up with the closest lightning strike I’ve ever witnessed.

When we had our first lightning strike in the early 90’s over at Hillside Farm one of my buddies philosophically said, ‘Jorma, lightning goes where it wants to… when it wants to.’ True that. In a millisecond, TV’s were fried… phones were fried… the Ranch internet was fried… and more. The mother board for the Generac fried and the breaker to the pool pump gave up its life to save the pump and the salt generator. Friday we were planning to have a pool party for Izze and twenty of her friends so this was really a potential disaster in the making. Vanessa jumped into Repair Mode as she does and Friday morning Smiles replaced the pool breaker. The party went off as planned and while the kids enjoyed moderate mayhem poolside, Nessa and I sat by the fire.

By the sacred fire pit.

By the sacred fire pit.

Selfie by us

The fire pit sits on the location where Grandpa Wallace Black Elk built a sweat lodge in 1998 and where I heard the Thunder Beings circle the lodge. Wallace Black Elk passed on ’04 but sharing his spiritual space in ’98 will never be forgotten.

The space is still sacred!

The space is still sacred!

Timed Selfie

There were no thunder beings today, but the laughter of kids is a good substitute.

Good times!

Good times!

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

We found ourselves in an internet free zone, both a blessing and a curse. I had phone service, but I’m not fond of doing internet work on the phone. In any case, Sunday was a beautiful day and I allocated it’s beauty to a motorcycle ride to Ritter Park in Huntington, West Virginia.

Ritter Park

Ritter Park

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Back in the 90’s I had a dear friend named Butch, aka Taylor. When he found he had cancer he had me record a six hour oral history to leave to his family. He lost a lung but kept on talking and playing his harmonica into my microphone. The cancer came back. I guess he figured ‘What the heck,’ so he started smoking again. I remember recording him while he smoked and breathed oxygen. ‘Don’t blow me up,’ I said. In any case, Butch was also an artist and spent the last year or so of his life creating the stainless steel sculpture I had come to see again in Ritter Park. He called it his ‘Earth Portal,’ and indeed it was, as I shall explain.

The Portal... Sunday in the park...

The Portal... Sunday in the park...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

As I was walking towards the sculpture from my bike, a father and son stopped to look at the work. They were walking away as I was approaching it and I called to them, ‘My friend built this twenty years ago before he passed. He would be thrilled to know that families are still enjoying it. They regarded me with suspicion, but that’s OK. These are suspicious times, and I said what I had to say. Less than a week after Butch saw the work placed, he walked through his own Earth Portal… and was gone. My friend Jerry was there that day when the statue was placed and he got to spend some time Butch. ‘There are no ripples on my pond,’ he said.

What more could one want.

...and he lives on in a way!

...and he lives on in a way!

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

The new week came and each day we worked to fix the burned out items. We have a camp this weekend so it was imperative to get everything back to normal, which we did… an hour ago.

And so it goes, people coming, people going. As my friend Gretchen Peters would say, ‘Good times come, good times go. If it lifts you up, it will lay you low. People leave and they don’t come back. Life is a disappearing act.’

Trials and tribulations notwithstanding, so far so good.


  1. Comment made on August 17, 2019 by John B

    Once Tuna clears the area I am confident that our Electric Tuna show for the Holidays will be announced……There are still seats available for several of the northeast shows.@AndyK

  2. Comment made on August 16, 2019 by Brian Doyle

    Happy Woodstock 50th Anniversary Jack & Jorma…History man, history!…

  3. Comment made on August 16, 2019 by AndyK

    Attention NY Tuna fans:
    Acoustic Tuna w Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams coming to Poughkeepsie on Thursday, Dec 5th!

  4. Comment made on August 15, 2019 by Sweetbac Jr.

    I take that back…I once split my Drakes Devil Dog with a member of the Cowsills!

  5. Comment made on August 15, 2019 by AndyK

    So here we are in mid-August and no Beacon Theatre date for Nov/Dec has been announced.
    Is the LIVE NATION TICKETMASTER MADISON SQUARE GARDEN BEACON entertainment monopoly freezing us out?
    Or are we waiting until this week’s NY area shows are past so as to not hurt their ticket sales?

  6. Comment made on August 15, 2019 by AndyK

    @Dan Nigro
    Indeed. Maybe they’ll play a tune together.

  7. Comment made on August 15, 2019 by Dan Nigro

    Enjoy the show tonight Andy (and anybody else going). Bromberg opening makes it a double treat.

  8. Comment made on August 15, 2019 by AndyK

    Hot Tuna Electric Tonight!
    Port Chester, NY Here I come!

  9. Comment made on August 14, 2019 by Barb

    We get a good storm every once in a while here in Darwin. Usually they aren’t too bad though. Glad you all stayed safe!

  10. Comment made on August 13, 2019 by DennisK

    Hey Jorma,
    Happy Left Hander’s Day! I had a nice chat with Smiles a few weeks ago, at Art and Minds fest. You soitenly have a great crew there!

  11. Comment made on August 13, 2019 by Jim Bacon

    Love your posts Jorma – think of FPR whenever I play and send the good vibes your way in return for all the goodness you guys create –

  12. Comment made on August 12, 2019 by Sweetbac Jr.

    How come when I was a teenager, NO member of the Jefferson Airplane invited me over for a weenie-roast?…it’s simply not fair, I tells ya

  13. Comment made on August 12, 2019 by Sandy

    That is an interesting sculpture, piece title and your story behind it. I’m guessing he was highly skilled with metal and their are other works out there. So wonderful that the final work sits tall in his community. 20 years goes by, often, fast. That old saying comes to mind: “All passes – art alone endures.”

  14. Comment made on August 11, 2019 by carey georgas

    Or, it could be the sound of hell hounds on my trail for butchering with an axe…

  15. Comment made on August 11, 2019 by carey georgas

    I dunno, Greg, sounds more like they howlin’ at a police siren right now, but I’ll have ‘em goin’ in harmony
    ‘fore too long.

  16. Comment made on August 10, 2019 by GREGG ENGLES

    Yea Carey but are the coon dogs howling to the tunes g

  17. Comment made on August 10, 2019 by carey georgas

    Well, I been playin’ for a month now. Four lessons and haven’t missed a day practicing. I’m here to tell you, I’m having a blast!

  18. Comment made on August 9, 2019 by doug mlyn

    As usual, things usually end up working themselves out. Reminds me of a song: If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will!

  19. Comment made on August 9, 2019 by Greg martelli

    I figured all the blues cats would be familiar

    Lonnie Mack
    Strikes like lightning

  20. Comment made on August 8, 2019 by Brendan Carroll

    Brother Brian is well, Tom. He’s made a good life for himself, raising a family outside Atlanta and running build projects at GSU. Big handsome guy about who I can’t imagine anyone would have anything but good things to say. I’m a small handsome guy who often annoys people.

  21. Comment made on August 8, 2019 by Tom NY

    @Brendan Carroll
    Hello Brendan. How is your old friend Brian doing now? Seems like a special guy. Would love to hear his opinion on things.

  22. Comment made on August 8, 2019 by carey georgas

    Idle time here. Just heard a song I like, and though season’s passed here, I figure the more northern climes are still yielding Homegrown Tomatoes. It was a Ray Wiley Hubbard cover of the Guy Clark song. If you live in the country, you’ll definitely relate, if you live in the city you’ll definitely appreciate.

  23. Comment made on August 8, 2019 by Brendan Carroll

    I’ve been missing continuity of craic with my late Mother and hers, but thanks for reminding of our fortune at our Brian having survived lightening strikes. I witnessed first through car window, with flash at Brian’s feet and him up in air and down on grass. We were around 8 and 9 and he was O.K. Ten years later he took a direct strike riding bicycle, which stopped traffic. Crowd watched him decline ride to hospital, pick up bike and cycle off, bruised and battered as he was.
    Caught some Penebaker Monterey on Criterion last night. Nothing’s forever and it’s too bad last of boomers (self included) wouldn’t believe that.

  24. Comment made on August 8, 2019 by carey georgas

    If them clouds were going Mind Flayer on you, it’s fortunate there was no wind damage. Those kind of skies always portend some kind of meteorological mischief. Witnessing a lightning strike within a hundred feet is to witness one of the most singular displays of nature’s power. May be a song in there somewhere. Peace.

  25. Comment made on August 8, 2019 by johno

    A lightning bolt hit about 50 feet from my deck last year. Luckily I was inside my house and staring straight at it. The bolt was so close it made my hair stand up. Crazy close. I love the rolling thunder you hear in the mountains during summer storms. Not much rain this summer though. It’s been a great summer so far.

  26. Comment made on August 7, 2019 by eaglesteve

    You guys look good.

  27. Comment made on August 7, 2019 by mark k

    In 1976 my future 1st wife and I found ourselves camping at a high elevation in Smoky Mountain National Park. We had the entire campsite to ourselves and after dark the biggest sudden storm I have ever been in blew up with gale force winds, hail and the most lightening I have ever experienced. Trees all around us were snapping and crashing, lightening was hitting and splitting trees, the thunder was deafening, we felt we were certain to die. So what’s a young couple to do, we made love just in case and rode out the storm. In the morning the sky was crystal clear, dew drops falling like diamonds. We packed up our soggy gear and hit the road in 72 Camaro with a Tuna Album playing on my 8 Track [wish I still had both] . Ah memories

  28. Comment made on August 7, 2019 by Chappy

    Glad to hear FPR is back up and running! Had some wild storms out this way in Virginia this week too. Kept thinking about the lightning that was dancing around me as I tried to use an umbrella to shield me and my daughter against sideways sheets of rain when I picked her up from her day support program the other day! I kept thinking “why am I holding this lightning rod right now.”..especially when it wasn’t doing a darn thing to keep us dry. Anyway, appreciate the good thoughts on your friend. As family and friends pass on, I always keep in mind the words I remember from Jim Dickinson (the late father of Luther & Cody Dickinson AKA North Mississippi All-Stars) whose autobiography is titled “I’m Just Dead – I’m Not Gone.” BTW – it is a great read! Jorma, I think you’ve jammed with Luther and Cody once or twice…did you know their Pop? And, any thought about having them out to FPR for a show?

  29. Comment made on August 7, 2019 by JIM

    In my youth and early adult years, I would enjoy thunder and lightning; an evening flash that lights everything up and lets you see for miles, then the thunder – like Electric Hot Tuna during the “rampage years.”
    Today, the lightning scares the heck out of me. Back in the late 1990’s when I worked in the emergency room in Syracuse NY during the summer, I remember a patient being brought in who was struck by lightning while playing golf. Also, a roofer who did not get off his metal ladder quick enough, then struck by lightning. I also thought it was safe to be in a car because the tires keep you grounded. Well, that’s not so.
    I stay inside and keep away from the computer during a lightning storm.

  30. Comment made on August 7, 2019 by Joey

    Glad you and all are in one peace.

  31. Comment made on August 7, 2019 by John B

    Lightning is scary stuff. I am glad that no one was injured and that the pool party went off as planned . That storm will provide everyone with a good story to tell for years to come. Many decades ago I was driving my sweetheart home when a terrific thunderstorm overtook us. We were stopped at red light and just as I turned my head to the left a lightning bolt blasted the exact spot I was looking at. The strike was no more then 8 to 10 feet away from where we sat . It scared the bejeebers out of us and from that point forward I never , ever looked at a thunderstorm quite the same way. God is good……..

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