Lower 40 under water

Lower 40 under water

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

I got home from the Hot Tuna tour to find the Shade River well over its banks and neighbor Donnie’s field under water. These things come and go around here. At least with floods, there are few surprises. It was nice to be back home with the family. The tour wasn’t that long, but somehow it seemed as if a minor eternity had passed. On Saturday the girls took me up to Columbus for a birthday Ramen lunch at Meshikou.

I passed the egg off to Vanessa, but the rest disappeared!

I passed the egg off to Vanessa, but the rest disappeared!

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

By the time I got home from Milwaukee I had a pretty good cold going and the spice in the Ramen broth helped suppress some of the symptoms, at least till I got home. On December 19th I got an email from an old friend, Mike Slater. He sadly informed me that Steve Farzan had passed. I had not seen Steve for a number of years but back in the mid 80’s we were band mates in a most idiosyncratic band, There Goes The Neighborhood. Somehow I briefly hooked up with Jaco Pastorius who I met one night at a gig at My Father’s Place in Roslyn, LI. I don’t really know how this happened but synchronicity is an amazing thing. Through Jaco I met Steve Sacher who played bass and replaced jaco when he disappeared, Ben Prevo who played guitar and was Steve’s roommate at that infamous apartment at #1 Lispenard Street. Rasheid Ali a colorful free jazz drummer lived around the corner on Greene St. Thanks to Steve’s connection with Jaco and ‘Sheid he found his way into our company. Last but not least, Steve Farzan came out from San Francisco… and there went the neighborhood.

We literally crossed the country together in my 1977 half ton sport van… with no air conditioning. We shared rooms, got paid next to nothing and forged the kind of bond that only road dog musicians truly understand. As the eighties evolved, There Goes The Neighborhood was laid to rest, the ’89 Airplane Reunion was thrust upon me and I met Vanessa and married she, who was and always will be, the light of my life in this world. History has shown that some of these events proved to be more durable than others.

I’m not much of a social butterfly anymore so I miss out on a lot of hang time with old friends. That said, as infrequently as I saw Steve over the years I’m sorry he has moved on.

My 90 year old mother in law asked me at dinner the other night, ‘Does it feel different to be 79?’ The simple answer is, ‘Yes,’ but I’m not quite sure how yet. Life is more fragile, time more precious and friends and family more important. The final vote is still out.

Sunday Nessa, Izze and I drove to town to see the latest Star Wars Movie.

Sailor's Delight

Sailor's Delight

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

The twilight thunder continued all the way to town!

The old man at 79

The old man at 79

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

So far so good…


  1. Comment made on January 9, 2020 by Joanne Wirth

    Good Morning Jorma,
    Hope this note finds you and your family in good health and spirits.I’ve been a huge fan of yours since 1972 and have enjoyed watching to live over 53 times! Your a awesome Picker, Guitar player and performer whom we all enjoy so much!
    I was wondering why your not Playing at the Rams Head in Annapolis, MD. Five of us folks would love it if you would come this summer and play.
    Thank you for your consideration on this. We miss you!

    My Best Always,

  2. Comment made on January 3, 2020 by Judge Jim

    Hey Jorma – Happy B’day – every day is a gift – saw Mike Quigley the other day and had some good laughs – Hope your 2020 is filled with love and music – Jim

  3. Comment made on January 1, 2020 by Brian Doyle

    Back from the Florida east coast…

    Great evening with Jorma and Jack at Parker Playhouse…

    Grand old time and played after midnight…

    I definitely like electric…

    Soft pocket rumble on blues with guitar appointments…

  4. Comment made on January 1, 2020 by Joey Hudoklin

    @Tom NY
    Thank you Tom

  5. Comment made on December 31, 2019 by carlo pagliano

    Rock Them High Tonight, Jorma!

  6. Comment made on December 31, 2019 by Kevin

    “ZZZboofa!” Great pics.

  7. Comment made on December 31, 2019 by Tom NY

    @Joey Hudoklin
    10 years. Good for you Joey. Things just get more and more clarified and healthy. Healing….the body wants to be well.

  8. Comment made on December 31, 2019 by Brian Doyle

    Psyched about seeing Electric Tuna for the first time tonight…

    Hindsight is 2020…

    Rock lives on…

  9. Comment made on December 31, 2019 by Joey Hudoklin

    Bring it tonight Jorma! I’m so grateful start time got changed!
    10 years for me tonight.

  10. Comment made on December 31, 2019 by Rich l


    Thanks for posting that article. Why would Jorma and Jack leave something that was “such a grand success?” The Airplane was such a great band.

    Jack saying they just wanted to play all the time reminded me of one of my favorite cartoons. There were two old guys sitting in a boat fishing. The one guy says to the other, “Tom, if we had been doing this our whole life, we couldn’t afford to be going it now.”

  11. Comment made on December 31, 2019 by mikie

    Seriously, now, if you’d told me 45 – 50 years ago that I’d turn on the TV and hear White Rabbit as the background tune for a cruise line commercial, I’d have wanted whatever it was you were on! From the freaky commercial, got me wondering if the ship has a psychedelics bar, too?
    Hope it means a fat royalty check. m

  12. Comment made on December 31, 2019 by Hogan

    Happy New Year Jorma…to you and the crew..

    Enjoy the nice weather and ring in the New Year rockin..

    Safe Travels

  13. Comment made on December 30, 2019 by Tom NY


    A nice article/interview with Brother Jack, regarding 50 years of Hot Tuna.

    Happy New Year Jorma…. Thanks for the encouragement regarding tone, and also…..obedience.

  14. Comment made on December 30, 2019 by Dan Nigro

    For people going to NYE at Parker Playhouse, just got an e.mail that showtime has been moved to 9PM. Maybe they will serve coffee at midnight

  15. Comment made on December 27, 2019 by Joey Hudoklin

    Looking forward to acoustic Tuna tomorrow night!

  16. Comment made on December 27, 2019 by Walt Hetfield

    Wow – really sorry to hear about Steve. From what I read about he was involved in some sort of music camp out there in California – very cool and not surprising – recalling his kind sharing affability . He was only sixty three – way too young. Steve was the first person to show me how “modern” keyboards worked back in the 80’s. He could make train noises and other sundry effects. I also remember him singing Sitting Here in Limbo and that Roscoe Gordon chestnut Just a Little Bit. He was pretty good with a pool cue too. RIP Steve.

  17. Comment made on December 27, 2019 by Hogan

    Beautiful sunset pictures..

    Safe Travels


  18. Comment made on December 27, 2019 by Rick Quinn

    With age comes wisdom, you cant control either. Use them brightly.

  19. Comment made on December 26, 2019 by Rich l

    Remember, he wrapped it around the base of the tree.

  20. Comment made on December 26, 2019 by Mike Anderson

    A close friend of mine recently passed, back n 1981 I took her to see you at Toad’s Place in New Haven, CT. She was guitar player and worked the local CT circuit, she had a beautiful voice and if you got a few drinks in her she turned into John Valby, much to the chagrin of the family. But anyways, I asked her in the car on the way home form your show and her only remark was; “I want to go home and smash my guitar!” She meant that as a compliment to your talent. She was big Janis fan and loved it when I turned her on to the typewriter recordings. I miss her dearly and going to your show was one of those special times in life. Thank you for that!

  21. Comment made on December 26, 2019 by John B

    As long as Providence continues to shower us with his blessings, in about six months we should be preparing and looking forward to celebrating your 80th Birthday at the Beacon Theatre . What a hoot that ought to be . May God continue to Bless and Keep You Always and please do Keep Your Lamps Trimmed And Burning.

  22. Comment made on December 26, 2019 by Joe Wolfson

    Happy birthday Jorma, and Happy Chanukah to you and the entire family. May you continue have health, happiness and bask in the light that Chanukah represents!!

  23. Comment made on December 26, 2019 by John B

    @rich l
    And that is the only time that you ever see Linus not clutching his blanket……….

  24. Comment made on December 26, 2019 by John B

    Is that picture looking out from your back yard ?

  25. Comment made on December 25, 2019 by an apiarist

    Bless you sir and all that you love;
    and Many Happy Returns of the Day.

  26. Comment made on December 25, 2019 by rich l

    “Got those Christmas Blues Baby…” …. well not really

    I love Christmas morning, there is such a peacefulness about it. I got up at 7am and saw a bodacious sunrise. (may you be treated to many more of these brief glimpses of heaven Jorma!) The sky was reddish, intermingled with some intense blues. Alas, it quickly faded into soft pinks and then disappeared.

    So I made a pot of strong java and threw in the original Winter solstice CD, I love “Jesu, The Joy Of Man’s Desiring,”(David Qualey) “High Plains,” (Philip Aaberg) and “Green Sleeves” (Liz Story) on that Holiday season gem. I actually took in the Winter Solstice show at Moraine Valley College the day after Jorma and friends held fort at the Park West.

    This years line up included Will Ackerman, Barbara Higbie, Todd Boston and Mia Pixley. Jorma, I was wondering if you and Ackerman ever crossed paths – you are both so down to earth and virtuoso’s on the guitar. Mia Pixley played the cello – the cello is such a beautiful instrument. I love the deep, euphonious sound that resonate from that over sized violin. Who’d a thunk it?

    Mia played a song that she learned in Jerusalem, and invited the audience to sing the chorus to. The chorus went, “Shalom, Shalon.” (hope I got that right) My boss is Jewish and when I described the song to him he told me Shalon is Arabic for “peace.” The song took on a whole knew meaning when he told me that. Not as good as the Park West show the night before, but again a magical evening!

    Last Saturday my daughter who is home from school, wanted to take in some live music. My nephew recommended B.L.U.E.S. in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago. Let me tell you, this joint was the epitome of the word “Dive.” Seriously, the place looked like it should be condemned. Obviously, a perfect venue for the blues!

    Vance “Guitar” Kelly and the Backstreet Band blew my socks off, yet again. I just bout ran out of socks the last two weekends! They played Stevie Wonder classics, “Get On The Good Foot,” by Jamaaaaaaaaame’s Brown, and some Temptations songs, amongst some originals. We danced and sang the whole night long. One of there songs was “Santa Claus Going Straight To The Ghetto.” My hearing ain’t what it used to be and I asked the kids, “Is he singing Santa Claus can go to hell?” They had a hardy laugh at this ol’ dawgs expense, and quickly corrected me. The only bad part of the evening was we got home about 1:45am and I had to prepare a children’s Church lesson at 7am….Lord, have mercy.

    As I put down these thoughts, I’m listening to the Merry Jazzmen CD, while observing all the ornaments we’ve collected over the years on the sparkling Christmas tree. I sipping coffee out of a Charlie Brown cup, that a special friend gave me, where Linus explains the true meaning of this blessed day….

    “For unto you this day in the city of David a Saviour is born, which is Christ the Lord. That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown. “

  27. Comment made on December 25, 2019 by carey georgas

    That photo of the old man at 79 belongs somewhere. Album cover, book cover, gallery, museum. It really is a fine shot. And, you ain’t headin’ into the sunset – you travelin’ perpendicular to it. Into the north wind, if my orientation is correct.

    Peace on Earth, goodwill towards people.

  28. Comment made on December 25, 2019 by mikie

    Another trip around the sun, that of many such trips now. Welcome home and hope your holiday is happy. m

  29. Comment made on December 24, 2019 by Zebra

    So sorry about Steve.I remember him well.I was honored to have sat in with There Goes The Neighborhood on drums with Mike Slater singing Big Boss Man & a few other songs which lead me to many magical gigs with the late James Cannings Jaco & King Biscuit Blues Band @ Nancy Whiskey Pub! Happy Birthday Jorma! Cheers Zebra

  30. Comment made on December 24, 2019 by George Anthony


    Glad you had family time, as you state, that is precious.

    I remember your ’77 van (no AC), you’d be cruising the lower FM dial for blues. Besides the ‘Lone Star Cafe’ revolving door on 13th St. and 5th Ave, my pals and I spent a few nights with TGTN @ Nancy Whiskey Pub on Lispenard. We drove Rashid to dinner once in 1985, breaking bread Rashid was a treat.

    Sorry about Steve. Thankfully many of us are here, as we approach 2020.

  31. Comment made on December 24, 2019 by John Manouelian

    Hey, Jerry/Jorma. Just read your book. Wow, what a story! You are lucky to be here with your earlier history. I just turned 79, myself on the 9th. Oliveri was one of my 2 best friends and he would have really been pleased with how you credited him for starting your guitar journey. Lots of work, I know in putting together a book, as I am in the midst of my first novel (35K words so far). If I finish before I kick off to the next planet, I will rework the old 11 song rock opera I wrote on which it is based – then include it as a CD along with lyrics in the back of the book just like you did. My only musical claim to fame is a reject letter on the original rock opera from Irving Azoff back in late 1980’s. – The Fur Peace Ranch rocks!!

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