The Ranch… Fall twilight…

Photo by Vanessa Kaukonen

Sitting here in our house in Southeast Ohio on this fall morning my thoughts are wrapped with disconcerting realities. I remember when my father was approaching the final quarter of his life. ‘I’m on a slippery slope,’ he would say with that sly and somewhat unnerving smile of his.

A slippery slope indeed. I guess we’re all on that same slope although it doesn’t seem as precipitous when you’re younger. I guess it deserves noticing because it’s there, but there’s no point in obsessing about it… because it’s there.

As Gretchen Peters said in Disappearing Act,

‘Good things come and good things go

If it lifts you up it’ll lay you low

People leave and they don’t come back

Life is a disappearing act…’

I don’t need to reflect on whether that is good or bad… it just is.

My friend Kevin O’Toole died this week. Good man that he was, he always seemed to walk in the light. He fought the cancer for five years it seems. He would always send updating messages on how the struggle was going, He always fought the good fight and at the end of every message he would always close with, ‘No one fights alone!’

I’m not sure that is always true, but if we’re lucky none of us will ever have to fight alone.

I have another friend in California engaged in this mortal combat. Dennis Kelly out there in California  entered the lists to joust with this implacable foe some years ago and his lance is still sharp. He is a brave one too!  My friend JD Hutchison, a more that fine musical artist and writer of songs, looks like he might be pulling into that final walk. How can these things have crept up on us like that. When I would run into him town I would always treasure his skewed world view.

I’m reminded of the Randy Travis song, Satisfied Mind.

‘Many more miles were behind him 
Than he had left to go
Closing in upon that last one 
We all must walk alone
It’s the one across the end of the line’

There are more of course but I’ll just leave it at that for now. There are no words that can really help process loss or grief but we try nonetheless.

Well, like my mom used to say when I would ask how she was doing towards the end of her life, ‘I’m still here dear… I’m still here.’  Me too.

Driving our daughter Izze to school in the dark a couple of days ago, she snapped this picture out of the window of our Jeep. To be alive on a morning like this is always a good thing.

Early school ride…

Photo by Izze Kaukonen

Watching The Big Guy, Maverick, own the pre-dawn moments, well…


Photo by Vanessa Kaukonen

Lots of stuff left to do and now is the time to get to it!

Enjoy the ride…

The Old Man contemplates the slippery slope!

Photo by Jorma Kaukonen


  1. Comment made on November 1, 2021 by Brad

    ‘Omage, Mr. Jorma;

    Phil and Friends, including Larry Campbell last night, played a fun Halloween Keep your lamps trimmed and burning at the ol Capitol in Portchester

    All Saints, today
    Be well

  2. Comment made on October 31, 2021 by john o


  3. Comment made on October 31, 2021 by Zebra

    Amazing Grace how sweet the sound

  4. Comment made on October 31, 2021 by eaglesteve

    Happy Birthday Grace

  5. Comment made on October 30, 2021 by George Anthony

    Happy Birthday Grace

  6. Comment made on October 29, 2021 by Joe K

    I was lucky as a teen to catch Duane 5 months earlier in Philly.Great night of music. Johnny Winter was the main act.
    Duane & Dicky Betts followed by John Dawson Winter & Rick Derringer. Great memory

  7. Comment made on October 29, 2021 by eaglesteve

    Skydog…gone 50 years today.
    Never forgotten.
    RIP Bro

  8. Comment made on October 29, 2021 by Tom NY


    Rhubarb or cherry pie?

    Jorma, congrats on the White Rabbit payday and thanks for teaching me some remarkably beautiful tunes, yours and others. I am making some good coin in NY playing and I have a chart of Jorma, Dylan, Beatles, a little Jerry and Lately I’ve Been Living on Faith by Clapton….Morning Has Broken, Cat Stevens’ version too. When I play Genesis and Trial by Fire or Northwinds, I know there is going to be a payday and the tone, the tone, will turn some heads.

    Thanks to Vanessa for the good food at the ranch….Hope to see you again and hear the conch call.

  9. Comment made on October 29, 2021 by BrendanC

    Ed, lost address. 914 642 6388.

    Sorry for your troubles, Jorma K.

    That being said, is that not a face calling out for pie? A mensch, yes. But asking to be splattered with whipped cream and filling of one’s choice.

  10. Comment made on October 29, 2021 by carey georgas

    That’s kinda what I was thinking. They gonna be in Houston Jan. 14, right smack dab in the middle of the beginner blues class I’ll be attending right here. Believe I’m gonna buy me a ticket and check them out.

  11. Comment made on October 28, 2021 by Arlen

    @carey georgas
    I just looked them up on YouTube. Any band that does a Hound Dog Taylor cover is my kind of band! Would be great to see in a club.

  12. Comment made on October 28, 2021 by carey georgas

    Anybody have any experience with or knowledge of GA-20?

  13. Comment made on October 27, 2021 by Ed

    @john o
    Hey, John: Just as one human being to another, I wanted to tell you that I really respect you for your apology. Apologizing for that kind of thing doesn’t come easy to most people, and doing it in public is even harder.

  14. Comment made on October 26, 2021 by richard cowles

    Hello Jorma youre lookin good!!! Been busy with work and things related,,burnin sugar maple know in the damp bomb cyclone! Just wanted to say hi! Richard..

  15. Comment made on October 26, 2021 by mikie

    I’ve seen Michael with Jorma at a local coffee house (cappuccino machine made a real racket) and with the New Riders. He’s quite a player. You’ll have a blast. m

  16. Comment made on October 26, 2021 by carey georgas

    Got on a Lightnin’ jag last night. “If a mule run away with the world, I’ll just say go ahead on…”

  17. Comment made on October 26, 2021 by Richard K

    mikie :
    Hey, if you’re in town the Athens public library has an excellent photo exhibit of many of my favorite players, including Jorma in a Kaukorano muscle shirt. m

    Going to see Falzarano next week on Long Island NY in an Airplane cover band..Should be fun!!!

  18. Comment made on October 25, 2021 by john o

    I apologize if I ruffled some feathers last week, certainly not yours personally Jorma. But was goaded into a discussion on politics by another blogger. I understand this is not the place for that and apologize. I’m not xenophobic nor racist. Just a concerned American.
    I’m really sorry if it got you upset Jorma.
    It won’t happen again.

  19. Comment made on October 25, 2021 by eaglesteve

    When I Wake Up In The Morning…..
    The very first thing I do is thank G_d that I’m Still Standing.
    And Captain, so many are also grateful you are too, and hopeful it’ll be for many years to come.
    Because you are loved.

  20. Comment made on October 25, 2021 by mikie

    Hey, if you’re in town the Athens public library has an excellent photo exhibit of many of my favorite players, including Jorma in a Kaukorano muscle shirt. m

  21. Comment made on October 24, 2021 by Joey Hudoklin

    That is indeed one of the most powerful stories in the BB.
    And until I can find acceptance, I cannot have happiness.

  22. Comment made on October 24, 2021 by carey georgas

    Just got done watching Big Fish (again). As the big fish swirled around Will and into the river it made me think of this here post. A very nice allegory about the end, the beginning, and eternity – the stuff the Captain’s musings have brought up here. It also illustrates a song that’s been dancing in my head all week. Life is a Carnival. Indeed.

  23. Comment made on October 24, 2021 by Wayne

    “….it just is.”

    Yep acceptance is the key to it all.


    • Comment made on October 24, 2021 by Jorma

      “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.” — “Alcoholics Anonymous” (AA’s Big Book), pg. 417, from the story “Acceptance Was The Answer”

      Indeed is is

  24. Comment made on October 24, 2021 by Brad

    Just, Dear Jorma, Thank you…for thoughts and words and pictures and music and years.

    I think, the Heart that is truly filled can not help but to spill over, sometimes in joy other times in sorrow, all times with tears from the same place, I think.

    “ O Spirit, fill our hearts this day
    With grace to hear and grace to pray.”

    Glorious late Oct Sunday all.

  25. Comment made on October 24, 2021 by John R.

    Thank you for those thoughts, and for the pictures, Jorma.

  26. Comment made on October 23, 2021 by Carlo Pagliano

    Really i hope on my passing away that my heart may take inside with him all the ones he met and loved in this long, long life, started aeons ago, and so all of us, alone but together in love’s will. Must be sort of that way, otherwise where do we end up to. In the meantime, day after day, concerts after concerts, and The Captain firm at the rudder. And since all this constantly happens here, go figure if it doesn’t happen There, of course it does, and with this in mind every day is a firework, whatever. And The Captain is the artifex of these real hopes really comin’ true by the day, this winning way of living, solid on this soil. Rock it Capt.

  27. Comment made on October 23, 2021 by mikie

    Well, my friend, you’ve had a real good slide so far…slide on!
    Breaks my heart to read about JD. We’ve enjoyed his iron-assed folk singing and Jiving for so many, many years. ‘The Bard of Barnesville’. May his days be peaceful. m

  28. Comment made on October 23, 2021 by Peter

    Christmas 2001 greeted me with a ruptured abdominal aortic anuerysm with a two percent chance of survival. Back then they cut you open like a walleye, did their work and stapled things closed. 2018 found me in a New York City hospital for round two. This time, a minimally invasive procedure inserted a multi branched stent along with enough radiation to create Godzilla’s brother. A full one third of my life to date has been quite a gift. My surgeon contacted me the other day with the results of my annual ct-scan. So far, so good. In that time I was lucky enough to marry an absolute angel of a woman, became a father of a daughter who is a member of the National Honor Society and the recipient of a fine arts award and just received her driver license. She and Izzie both play volleyball by the way. When I was released from the hospital after round one, Bob Dylan’s Love and Theft was waiting under the tree. The opening lines to Mississippi hit me like a ton of bricks. I know full well tomorrow is not guaranteed and view what may be left as the conveyor belt portion of this crazy ride. Instead of years to look forward to, I’ll settle for a very, very high number of trash pick ups until they come for me.

  29. Comment made on October 23, 2021 by Donald Gehre

    Nice photo. You look like a Viking ready to board a ship for a raiding party.Keep up the good works mann!

  30. Comment made on October 23, 2021 by Ed

    Heartfelt condolences, Jorma, and thank you.
    Your honesty and openness help us all on this journey that most definitely has an end, as all journeys do.
    For what it’s worth, “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius contains much wisdom on how to live – and die. (The Modern Library edition is a good one.)

  31. Comment made on October 23, 2021 by Rob

    As a lifelong atheist who believes that the end is just the end, I’ve always found Peter Hammill’s final verse in “Childlike Faith in Childhood’s End” to be an eloquent musing on what might lie beyond the final door of this world:

    And though dark is the highway,
    and the peak’s distance breaks my heart,
    for I never shall see it, still I play my part,
    believing that what waits for us
    is the cosmos compared to the dust of the past.
    In the death of mere humans life shall start!

  32. Comment made on October 23, 2021 by carey georgas

    I gotsta ruminate a bit before I comment on those intensely pensive insights. But for now I’ll just say, though the slope may be slippery, Jorma, it appears to me you still got plenty good tread on your boots. And i know you have no qualms about leaning on a good staff, if you have to. Peace to you, brother.

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