Ness and I take a break from yard work for a Hot Tuna pizza from Avalanche in Athens

Ness and I take a break from yard work for a Hot Tuna pizza from Avalanche in Athens

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:

Hot Tuna Pizza From Avalanche:

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.


  1. Comment made on March 30, 2020 by Judge Jim

    Hey Jorma – maybe with some extra time for practicing it might be good to re-visit the middle section of Mann’s Fate – I think about how Hendrix modified the 3 chords of All Along the Watchtower into something new – maybe that approach would work with mixing in alternative voicings or chords while keeping the Spanish/bluesy feel of B and C – never know –

  2. Comment made on March 30, 2020 by AndyK

    Happy birthday Eric Clapton
    Number 75!

  3. Comment made on March 30, 2020 by cgeorgas

    Sam Stone. War is hell. Thank you, John. Get well soon.

  4. Comment made on March 30, 2020 by Mike Anderson

    How about a shout out to John Prine, in critical condition and intubated from COVIG-19. His wife has also tested positive. He is a great American folk treasure.

  5. Comment made on March 30, 2020 by Tom Turner

    Sure would like to hear Mann’s Fate on that new guitar!

  6. Comment made on March 29, 2020 by AndyK

    Mikie, are you referring to Tom who believes this blog he is an appropriate forum for him to promote his religious beliefs and his promotion of Donald Trump?

  7. Comment made on March 29, 2020 by AndyK

    Right on Carey.
    Find a scapegoat to blame. The M O of autocrats throughout history.
    Deflects attention from the unpopular truth. Worked during the Depression in Germany and Italy.

    We will overcome this crisis despite the leadership failure in Washington. Thankfully governors have stepped up.
    And we should not forget those who initially minimized and trivialized this menace when prompt action was needed to minimize its spread.

    And the Fox network that said it was a hoax and spread falsehoods like it was purposefully spread by China and North Korea. Enough with the conspiracy theories.
    Put this one to bed along with the denial of Sandy Hook shootings and all the ridiculous 9-11 conspiracy theories.

  8. Comment made on March 29, 2020 by cgeorgas

    And I have to say, Mikie, whe congress passed a 2 trillion dollar bill on a widely bi-partisan basis and the president invites none of the opposition party to the signing, the division is here m, from the top.

  9. Comment made on March 29, 2020 by cgeorgas

    Jorma hasn’t minded in the past as long as it doesn’t get nasty like those other platforms.

  10. Comment made on March 29, 2020 by mikie

    What does any of this have to do with a) Jorma, b)Hot Tuna, c) FPR, d)Rock and roll? Take your issues to Facebook or Springer, if you please. Not the time nor place for divisions. m

  11. Comment made on March 29, 2020 by Greg martelli

    I think it’s good to be charitable

  12. Comment made on March 29, 2020 by cgeorgas

    @Greg martelli
    I must also assume your opinions about 14.50/hr being a wage the middle class should be glad to have is from the perspective of one living on a trifle more than that.

  13. Comment made on March 29, 2020 by Deanna

    Happy Birthday Vanessa!

  14. Comment made on March 29, 2020 by Sweetbac Jr.


  15. Comment made on March 29, 2020 by Greg martelli

    Yellow Sub
    All too much

  16. Comment made on March 29, 2020 by Greg martelli

    Doesn’t mean they were right than
    The enlightenment is a way of life,not a posit

  17. Comment made on March 29, 2020 by cgeorgas

    @Greg martelli
    Xenophobia first use reported 1877. What were you saying was revisionist about it?

  18. Comment made on March 29, 2020 by Greg martelli

    Xenophobia ?What is it?Xenophon was a Greek mercenary ,his only fear was an opponent with a larger and more lethal sword,the revisionist historical misinformed view that you are afraid of foreigners is limp and feckless .He wasn’t afraid of foreigners ,he was paid to slay them.Whats xenophobic about that.
    It’s not a coincidence ,that this scourge,is exploding in NY ,SF & Seattle.Chinatown in NYC is the largest concentration of ethnic Chinese outside of mainland China .Im NOT castigating Chinese people ,however we’d be foolish to fail to recognize that this virus comes from those populations .
    If you think that northern Italians have a genetic predispostion to contagion from this bug ,you’re delusional.
    In the sweat shops of Milanese garment and leather industries ,they’res 85,000 ethnic Chinese.,pure coincidence? No it’s the air travel back and forth to the fen.
    Where the Chinese monglophobic when they built the wall?
    Maybe the Masai are SIMBA phobic for building wooden stockades around their cattle and villages.
    The citizens of Lucca must be florentiophobic for building their wall.
    As for the wages in Akron or Dayton ,better lower pay than no pay at all.
    It’s not a coincidence that the Japanese auto industry ,chose southern states to build their factories,not a coincidence that they chose non union states.Most employees are well paid and content to bd working.
    As for the natural aversion to vacuum ,I’d like to address what happens in a vacuum ,cultural ,economic and spiritual ,The religious ,political “Human plough”, moves in ,Detroit is a prime example.
    The movement burgeoned in a political vacuum in the Saudi peninsula after the Byzantines and 3rd Persian empire bludgeoned each other into poverty.
    Speaking of wall,and Xenophobia ,I believe the city was called Constantinople ,correct if I’m wrong but I think it’s called Istanbul today .
    The wall didn’t keep out a 200 year siege.

    Thank god for tall walls & an educated electorate
    To the point of the the obese and uniformed,I prize my bandanna collection ,many tie dyed and batik -all very cool .Has any body noticed that in the last 40 years we’ve seen a decline in hankerchief use,the preferred choice
    Of our modern culture for wiping your nose is the sleeve.Dieases that we’re in the rear view mirror are more prevalent today ,TB,common folks.
    Our democracy presumed an educated population ,for it to function in the way intended.
    Revisionist history is very damaging to a culture ,we’re applauding it ( not me).

    I think I’ll fire up a Vtwin this afternoon and let the wind blow through my thinning hair.
    Rock on
    Keep on truckin

    To Johnos point -we will survive.Ive lived a life enjoying the lyrics of Robert Hunter,I always wish he had written
    We will excel ,I’d rather exist in the superlative .
    Broken down palace.Fare ther well , my honey.

  19. Comment made on March 29, 2020 by cgeorgas

    @Tom NY
    Sir, I must respond to your display of xenophobia. As well as your disdain for the fat, weakened, and dumbed down among us. China is taking our place in the global hegemony. They are the ones taking covid19 supplies to Africa. You know that nature abhors a vacuum. It will be, and is being filled by others than US. Our president’s unbridled narcissism has replaced foreign policy. All decisions seem to revolve around what makes him feel good about himself. He is doing Putin’s work (I believe it’s an unintended consequence of Trump’s vanity) in destabilizing our institutions and sense of national pride. There are about 1000 jobs in Dayton Ohio that were once $29.00/hr American auto factory jobs that have been replaced by $14.50/hr windshield manufacturing jobs for a Chinese conglomerate. That’s how jobs are coming back. Lower pay, reduced benefits – a lot closer to how China does it than the “American way”. Would you sacrifice the weakened among us to save the economy? That’s no different than the Chinese generals. As for scripture, I’ll go with John 13:34 every time. Peace, brother.

  20. Comment made on March 28, 2020 by Tom NY

    @Joe K
    We are going to bring it home. Bring the manufacturing jobs home…what nonsense that past administrationS have allowed this to happen…. Train Wreck. Human nature being what it is, China ain’t gonna let it go w/out a fight. Globalism is dead.

    Sad, months ago we were giving some support to the protestors in Hong Kong and we were redoing some trade deals w China and purportedly winning….Then suddenly Co Vi D. Corona Virus Disease.. shows up. How convenient… Timing is remarkable… Just in time to bash the president.

    China, one of their generals in the past said they could afford to lose 70 cities in a nuclear exchange. Some fat, weakened, dumbed downed Americans are stocking up on toilette paper and trying to figure what to order out..while on SPRING Break. Some say blame it on the teachers union… Compulsory education.. Of what?

    In Dylan’s newly released song about Kennedy assassination, he says, “the age of the anti-Christ has just only begun.”

    Too many people hate Trump for him to fit that bill.

    Dark forces will lose. Be part of the Light.

    James Chapt 1 vs 27

  21. Comment made on March 28, 2020 by Tom NY

    @rich l
    Hi Rich I…I think I saw you in Nyack not too a few weeks ago. I was playing a Serpant of Dreams type pattern or maybe Genesis… Is that you?

  22. Comment made on March 28, 2020 by cgeorgas

    @Robert Prestifilippo
    Quahlity video.

  23. Comment made on March 28, 2020 by johno

    Finally got my internet set up. Up here in the Catskill mountains it’s springtime and so pretty. Ready to watch nature explode. Sure glad I got off Long Island when I did. They’re now talking about a “total” quarantine around NYC. That is scary shit. Something to be worried about for sure. Thank God for all the food we enjoy and all health and food workers and police and firemen. My pick for song for the times “Touch Of Grey” by The Dead. “We will get by”.

  24. Comment made on March 28, 2020 by Robert Prestifilippo

    TV Critic David Bianculli does a daily minute long video of Best TV Tomorrow. Even if you can’t agree with his pick, I’m sure you will enjoy his wardrobe today.

  25. Comment made on March 28, 2020 by Joe K

    In November of 73 I was visiting a friend at Carnegie Mellon University. Frank was playing on a Sat. night.
    Earlier in the day my friend & I went to the aux.gym to shoot hoops. The Mothers were setting up. Tom Fowler & a roadie joined us for a little 2 on 2. After that we went & sat in while they started a sound check & tuning up. FZ came in plugged in his guitar. A few minutes of just noise then turned into 20 minutes of pure music.Frank then asked us to leave & come back for the show.
    Best $ 3 show

  26. Comment made on March 28, 2020 by Greg martelli


  27. Comment made on March 28, 2020 by Greg martelli

    FZ late sixties at FE one of two drummers had garbage pail lids for Cymbals
    Speaking of “kids”, it was either James Gurley or Sam Andrew on the eponymous big brother album, Crumb cartooned “ lids??”

  28. Comment made on March 28, 2020 by Greg martelli

    Another appropriate song for times from Richard Thompson’s great album –
    Rumor and Sigh -Keep your Distance

  29. Comment made on March 28, 2020 by Joe K

    @Joe K
    come on pal POOR

  30. Comment made on March 28, 2020 by Joe K

    This deals with the pour oversite of generic drug making in India & China

    Ah FZ.Enjoyed many FZ shows. The Halloween shows at the Felt Forum in NYC mid ’70s.

  31. Comment made on March 28, 2020 by rich l

    While the only constant in life is change, (oxymoron alert), Solomon said there was zilch, nada, nothing new under the sun.

    I’m bored so I started thinking about album covers. Two immediately cme to mind. The Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East and the Burgers cover. Sigh…..

  32. Comment made on March 28, 2020 by cgeorgas

    Got two more Netflix recommendations. One about Chinese manufacturing in Dayton, Ohio and another about same in Point Comfort, TX. The Ohio story is a 1 part documentary called American Factory. The other is a single episode of the series Dirty Money entitled “Point Comfort”. That one makes Zappa’s Plastic People look like literal prophesy. And I was thought I was watching too much TV before life in the times of Covid-19.

  33. Comment made on March 27, 2020 by Tom NY

    @Greg martelli
    Nice Greg. I vote When You Gonna Wake Up – Dylan.
    How bout the 17 min long tune Dylan released today? 1st new tune release in close to a decade. Deals w the Kennedy assignation.

  34. Comment made on March 27, 2020 by Greg martelli

    I think the perfect song for these times -Dire straits -So Far

  35. Comment made on March 27, 2020 by Greg martelli

    The Palio is raced on the only triangular ,known race track in the world ,the piazza is uniquely a distended triangle,so the turns instead of being a long arc ,which horses or any animal turns on (not to be confused with turn on ,tune in ,drop out),have acute angles.The horses ,in a13 horse field
    Occasionally bottleneck ,which will frequently induce a few of the ponies to “crowd climb”, in the Ky vernacular,
    NASCAR without barriers
    The 13 horses represent the 13 neighborhood guilds ,butchers ,tanners ,masons ,jointers ,etc,I don’t know the name of the Piazza ,but I’m sure we could all google it.
    But of equal significance ,and quite anachronistically ,is the shrine to Mary ,affixed in a dimunitve way to the “Town Hall “,.
    It was built as an expression of gratitude ,built by the survivors of Black Death ,for being spared .
    Cool town -fixed in 1348.

  36. Comment made on March 27, 2020 by Ham Neggs

    Happy Birthday Joey , just got off phone with Brad, May you have a great toss in Central Park or Jaco Pastorius park sometime soon
    Cgeorgas the day schools opened inNYC AFTER 9/11/01 I was told to just teach science. When I asked who was going to teach history I was told “There is no need for social studies” .
    Greg as The Third Man in this conversation I’m working on building a coo coo clock,fuckin Medicis couldn’t come up with that! Love every version I hear of that song by the way.
    I’m going to lay very low and hope to talk again in a few weeks. To all a Holy and Blessed Passover, Easter or whatever floats your boat. Mitakoye Oyasin! Aho! Peace Love All ways

  37. Comment made on March 27, 2020 by Arthur

    Bela is at 7:00 P.M. every Friday on the internet.
    How about you at 8:00 P.M.?

    Warm regards,

  38. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by kevin falvey

    Nice post, Jorma. I’m also a dad who hikes with his daughters and plays guitar. These are things that matter, as these times we are living in demonstrate.

    Take care of yourself and your family.

  39. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by John R.

    Does Avalanche deliver to Massachusetts?

  40. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by cgeorgas

    @Greg martelli
    Spent a couple nights in Sienna. I have a fondness for medieval history, and it was like stepping right back into it in many ways. They got that big-assed piazza where they’ve raced horses as part of some festival for,like, a millenium. The cathedral was closed for restorations. Ever read Froissart’s Chronicles? Fascinating first hand account of military and political intrigue in France, first published in 1369. Good, quick read if you like that sort of thing.

  41. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by Greg martelli

    Always enjoy the trips to Fur Peace,haven’t been in 2
    Our construction company is finishing up 2- monumental projects ,by August.
    We’ll be taking ASA sailing school in Grenadines in October.,which will allow to rent larger sail boats .
    Than taking off 2-3 months per year,first idea would be to sail the Med & Caribbean ( lea side).
    I’m going to have to figure out how to get cap guns overseas .
    Don’t want to be victimized by Barbary pirates.First notion ,sail from Sicily up west coast of boot and than motor up Arno to Florence .
    More time for shows too.
    Toots will be at caverns .
    This years Lokin looks great Phil ,Hot Tuna & the amalgam of young allmans and Dickersons looks cool.
    I’ll get these jobs behind us and we’re back on the Bus.
    We missed the Jamaica gig this year ,but have no intention of missing it next.

    I’ll check out the other saints.

  42. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by Tom NY

    @Greg martelli
    One of 23 children I believe. A bit of a mystic….they don’t make them like that anymore, thus I ask for her intercession.

    Jorma and Vanessa’s crib is on St Clare Road I believe… St Clare was another one..
    Luisa Piccarreta, now there is a story for ya. Or even Marie Esperanza

  43. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by Brian Doyle

    Johno is sequestered in his country house…

    Town reports 2 cases of Coronavirus on Sanibel…No details given…

  44. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by Greg martelli

    Started with accordion
    Beatles came out ,I couldn’t “make” the chords on guitar.
    Went to piano , where structure was easier for me.

    I ve been to her cathedral.
    Seen the pointer , that she penned letter with to pope in Avignon
    Bold peasant girl to challenge papacy

  45. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by Tom NY

    @Greg martelli
    Oh St. Catherine of Sienna, intercede for us.
    Greg, do you play guitar?

  46. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by Greg martelli

    I find the preoccupation with toilet paper interesting.

  47. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by Greg martelli

    Sienna is a city transfixed in the first year of the plague ,1348 .
    We could talk about that for hrs ,Sienna failed ,Florence burgeoned .
    Renaissance around corner.

  48. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by Sandy

    Avalanche Pizza’s menu is mind-blowing… and pizza names hilarious.
    I wish I could take a workshop there as well as at Fur Peace.

  49. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by Greg martelli

    If you haven’t been to Italy -go ( obviously not now), North to south it’s cool beyond comparison.
    Rome wasn’t built in a day——-but they worked at it every day.
    Sunshine in Kentuck today.
    Let the sunshine in.

  50. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by AndyK

    Speaking of Netflix, I highly recommend the show Occupied. It’s from Norway, of all places, and you’ll find it thrilling and all too real.

  51. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by cgeorgas

    I read this morning that Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi were at the same show in NYC that Larry and Jackson Browne played. Hope they stayed clear of the pestilence. As well as everyone else at the show. And everywhere else. That’s all I have to pray about that.

    Netflix watchers: If you ain’t watched limited series Tiger King yet, oooooweee!, that’s a crazy one there, but it ends with one of the most presciently precise environmental messages I’ve heard. Cray cray, but entertaining and edifying at the same time.

  52. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by Tom NY

    You will get there. 62 is a young man… I want to return to Rome, Assisi, Siena…

    Your 401-k will come back and then some.

    Be Not Afraid.

    Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

    Matthew 22:21 Jesus said “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” Romans 13:1 “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities.”— so please wash your hands and social distance.

    Prayers help too. For example, pray this thing does not mutate into something worse.

    We are clarifying a lot through this… Most of our Vit C is made in China…and they are using intravenous C too treat in NYC.

    If you are a player, play!! I like Jorma’s bit about learn to play the guitars you already have. Put new strings on and let it rip.

    These are actually the good old days.

  53. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by Richard

    Wish I could have tasted the pizza in Italy..At 62 years old never been..The trip was to be for May 5th..Had it all planned and booked,plane,hotel,rental car, and private tours..Hotels, car and tours are cancelled. Have to reuse plane tickets by Dec. 31 and we will see how that works out.. If it doesnt a couple grand lost to plane tickets is nothing compared to the lose of my 401K..

  54. Comment made on March 26, 2020 by Henry W

    @Vince Donahoe
    Amen brother, I saw a video message on a Facebook from Teresa. She said if you didn’t know someone who has it, now you you do, and to take the precautions seriously. Thoughts and prayers don’t seem like enough, but tonight that’s all I’ve got.

  55. Comment made on March 25, 2020 by Brian Doyle

    @Tom NY
    Don’t need it…I have a private bathroom with the shower right next to the bowl if you forgive the gross details…

  56. Comment made on March 25, 2020 by Tom NY

    @Vince Donahoe
    and Jackson Brown

  57. Comment made on March 25, 2020 by Vince Donahoe

    Best wishes for a full recovery to Larry Campbell

  58. Comment made on March 25, 2020 by Greg martelli

    The description of Pizza ingredients would suggest the sensibilities of a gourmand .
    I’ll make one tonight ,bechamel and artichokes -very cool.

  59. Comment made on March 25, 2020 by Tom NY

    @Brian Doyle
    How’s the bidet coming along?

  60. Comment made on March 25, 2020 by Brian Doyle

    I got an e-mail notification that the 4 containers of hand sanitizer had shipped…Should be enough so I cancelled the gallon of bulk sanitizer and the Ohio company was nice enough to allow me to do it…

    The 8 military grade virus-rated face mask filters arrived…I put them and the box on the back porch in the sun to lessen the chance of any corona hitch-hikers…Now I’m good to go for any food or necessity hunting in town…A huge relief as I battle for Bounty, Cottonelle, and virus-free vittles…

    On a Greyhound stop in Flagstaff we went to a hip pizza joint that had ala carte imaginative toppings…I ordered anchovies and jalapenos…When I tasted it I turned to my friend and said “Yumm, the Hot Tuna special”…My hiking friend Larry was an old Viet Nam veteran Maine farmer and had no clue to the reference…

  61. Comment made on March 25, 2020 by LWE

    I would love to see “Too Many Years” added to BreakDownWay. When I think about my favorites of your tunes, I usually find that they are almost all favorites, but that one moves me on a number of levels. Be safe and well.

  62. Comment made on March 25, 2020 by Susan

    “Just Dad” being the oxymoron…your life as a Dad and your appreciation of that role has been expressed clearly time and time again in your writings.

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