Selfie by Vanessa Kaukonen
Every day has been feeling like Sunday. Normally a weekend without a Fur Peace Ranch camp is the only time i would deign to do yard work. Well, with our world on pause down here Tuesday might as well be Sunday so out came the rakes, the leaf blower and the wheelbarrow. Before I go any further, I need to digress with a note on our very own Avalanche Pizza on East State Street in Athens, Ohio. Even before the ‘take out’ only mandate in Ohio, Avalanche Pizza has always been ‘take out’ only. If they had table service, I’d be eating there all the time. Anyway, years ago John Gutekanst the owner of said pizza joint came to us and wondered if we had a good idea for a specialty pizza. Having spent some time in Italy where their pizzas have little to do with pizza as we know it here in the States, Vanessa and I came up with this:
24hr cold fermented thin crust dough, hand-tossed. Creamy béchamel sauce, aged mozzarella and provolone cheese, tuna, artichoke hearts, fresh mushrooms, Roma tomatoes, and asiago cheese. Finished with swirls of spicy ninja sauce. Best pizza joint around and the best and coolest staff. Life is good… today… well at least as far as pizza is concerned.
We all have our own worlds to contend with along with the specific demands than inhabit these worlds. I have been making time every day for at least two hours of solo guitar performance. That’s how I practice. I’m always taking notes and writing stuff down. From yesterday.
‘3/24/20 11:17 AM
I sit in the workshop with my guitar. A moment of communication between me and a dear old friend. In this time of COVID -19 virus isolation it is a moment of untethered solace. I sit near the little stage in the old workshop at the Fur Peace Ranch. Behind me is a picture of myself and Bob Weir and Ken Kesey in ’96 at the Furthur Festival in Eugene, Oregon. I am playing Too Many Years and as I roll into the IV chord through a tiny window above my head over the stage a shaft of sun enters the room and bathes my face in light and in this small moment, there is a smile in my soul!’
Then having invited my soul thusly I return to the house to see how our teenage daughter is faring in moderate confinement. She always puts on a brave face but I can see the weight behind her eyes. I tell her things will probably be all right but that in reality there are no guarantees in life and as she has noted herself on more than one occasion, the only constant is change. I hope that the change will be for the better. Some wag noted on the internet today that in their time of crisis our parents went to war while in our time we are relegated to watching Netflix on the couch. That helps to put it in perspective for me. We are able to keep food on the table, the septic works and Rumke just emptied the FPR dumpster. Life is still decent enough I guess.
I just a note in the comments section about me and my ‘stuff.’ I’m just going to ruminate a little here because I’m too lazy to sign into the comments page. Hey, I know to my family I’m just dad, but some folks find aspects of my life interesting… like guitars I might own. Many have heard me talk about this before but i don’t mind doing it again. I’m not a collector and I have no interest in becoming one. Almost a decade ago I looked around my guitar room and saw that in spite of myself I wound up with more guitars than I would ever play and some were quite valuable. I sold everything that I didn’t use and put the money in the kid’s college fund. acoustic and electric… gone, and I don’t miss any of them. It is true that I have a small, but significant number of vintage amps on the stage of the Fur Peace Ranch, but that’s a little different. They all get used either by me, or by visiting musicians that come to play our room. I guess the most interesting guitar in my possession is my 1958 J-50 Gibson. It’s the Embryonic Journey guitar, it’s the Live At New Orleans House guitar. Anytime I played an acoustic guitar on an Airplane or Hot Tuna session, it was that guitar. It’s the guitar on the typewriter tapes with Janis. Yeah, It’s a cool guitar and still a great one! I am now playing a David Flammang J-35 as most of you know. It feels like going back to the old J-50. Anyway, the point is there’s not much to see you won’t see on stage when I’m gigging on the road. Yeah, gigging on the road… I have a vague recollection about that.
Anyway, all of us who can afford to do so have earned the right to gratify our acquisitional whims. I am not judging. As a guitar player and teacher I sometimes feel like reminding my friends to learn to play the guitars they have. Just saying in a non-judgemental way.
That’s it for now… stay healthy out there.