Archive for April, 2012

It Tolls For Thee… And Me

April 26th, 2012 38 comments

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

John Donne

In my neighborhood when I was a kid, my best friend was Bill Haile who lived at 3116 Northampton St. in D.C. We hung together from elementary school to High School when he graduated a year before me. Through Bill and hot rods, I met Chick Casady. We bonded over his getting a driver’s license a year before me… that and his 1934 Ford two door sedan. Through Chick I met Michael Oliveri who turned me on to the guitar and gave me my very first guitar lessons. Thanks Mike. I learned Jimmy Brown The Newsboy and Down In the Willow Garden. Mike Oliveri lived up the street from the Casadys and as we all hung together, I wound up becoming friends with Jack Casady who was playing the guitar as well. Mike died of cancer about a decade ago. Bill Haile died of a heart attack about three years ago and last night Jack’s brother and my old friend Chick, died in San Francisco.

Indeed, I am moving into a part of my life where there are times when you say goodbye more than hello… I remember when that time occurred in my Father’s life… he would talk about the vanished, and those who remained. So it goes indeed… there is nothing new under the sun.

Without the people I have mentioned above, I would not be the person I am today. Thanks guys… I hope to see you again sometime, just not too soon.

Chick certainly lived life on his own terms and if there is an afterlife, he’s giving whoever is in charge a run for their money. Bon voyage brother, may your path be filled with light.

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

A Dip In The River Of Time And The Last Waltz Redux

April 20th, 2012 20 comments
Peace At Wanee

Peace At Wanee

The Real Last Waltz
Lake City Florida
Friday, April 20, 12

My Hot Tuna friends and I came to Live Oak, Florida to play the Wanee Festival. We knew that our brother, Levon Helm, was hanging by a thread as we drove down here, and yesterday at 1330, we got the sad news… that Lee was making his journey beyond the stars. I had stumbled on a piece by Mark Salter that just said it so well and I offer a link to his writing here.

There has been so much said about Levon over the past couple of days that there is not much I could add. I do notice that so many (but not all) of us mourners are of a like age. Levon supplied so much to us over the years adding to the soundtrack of our lives that his passing not only reminds us of when we were young, it reminds us that life is indeed a finite journey here on this earth and that we must count our blessings and make sure that we sing loudly each and every day!

Last night at the Hot Tuna show on the Mushroom Stage, we dedicated Rev. Davis’ I Am The Light Of This World, to Lee’s spirit. There were mercurial aspects to Levon’s personality and he could be a rascal too so we followed Light Of This World with Julius Daniel’s 99 Year Blues… also for Lee.

So it goes and the world continues to turn.

Here is our set list from last night:

Hot Tuna 21, 2012
The Electric Trio
Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady
Barry Mitterhoff & Skoota Warner
The Mushroom Stage
Live Oak, Florida
April 19, 2012

1. I See The Light
2. Been So Long
3. Can’t Get Satisfied
4. Ode To Billy Dean
5. Children Of Zion
6. Mama Let Me Lay It On You
7. A Little Faster
8. If This Is Love, I Want My Money Back
9. Rock Me Baby
10. Bowlegged Woman
11. I Am The Light Of This World
12. I Am The Light Of this World
13. Mourning Interrupted
14. Hesitation Blues
15. Funky #7
16. Encore: Water Song

Today Jack and I did a great Fur-Peace-Ranch-On-The-Road workshop at the music hall here at Wanee…I had a great Q and A chat with Warren Haynes followed by Mickey Hart’s magic. As we worked through the day, I just had to keep reflecting , as always, on the relentless magic of the passing of time. Yes, it’s time to enjoy the ripples on the river. The time will come when we will say goodbye to it all.

I shall leave this post with a poem a friend sent me some time ago:

Miss Me – But Let Me Go

When I come to the end of the road,
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room,
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little – but not for too long
And not with your head bowed low,
Remember the love that we once shared,
Miss me – but let me go
For this is a journey that we all must take,
And each must go alone,
It’s all part of God’s master plan,
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick at heart,
Go to the friends you know,
Bury your sorrow in doing good deeds,
Miss me – but let me go

Me we all be here for some time to come to smell the roses and dance the dance!


April 19th, 2012 5 comments

Sent to me by my old college friend Paul W.:

Date: Apr 19, 2012 10:32 AM

Give up the world; give up self; finally, give up God.
Find god in rhododendrons and rocks,
passers-by, your cat.
Pare your beliefs, your absolutes.
Make it simple; make it clean.
No carry-on luggage allowed.
Examine all you have
with a loving and critical eye, then
throw away some more.
Repeat. Repeat.
Keep this and only this:
what your heart beats loudly for
what feels heavy and full in your gut.
There will only be one or two
things you will keep,
and they will fit lightly
in your pocket.

~ Sheri Hostetler ~

(A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry)

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

On The Road Again. A Message For Levon Helm!

April 18th, 2012 43 comments
Song of the open road... El Cheapo

Song of the open road... El Cheapo

Larry Campbell came to us at the Ranch last weekend with the sad news of what might be Levon Helm’s last battle this side of the great divide. I remember, I think it was sometime in 1968, I was staying at the Landmark Motel on Franklin in Los Angeles with the rest of the Airplane. We might have been recording… I don’t remember. What I do remember is that Eric Clapton had the room next to mine. Eric played a tape for me of Music From Big Pink and of course, like everyone else in the music loving world, I was knocked out.

Years later in the mid 80’s, I moved to Woodstock, N.Y. and somehow met Rick Danko and Levon Helm. After all those years of being a fan, in was an honor to be able to count them as friends. I toured Japan with them in the 80’s and wound up filming an instructional video for Happy Traum’s Homespun at Lee’s place.

Our paths would cross from time to time as we crossed and re-crossed America playing music and brushing off the dust of ten thousand motel rooms. That is what we touring musicians do… and Levon did it like he did everything… wheels up and throttle to the wall. Life dealt him his share of adversities and he took his lumps and kept on pickin’ for all of us. I got to hang with him a little more when I recorded my River Of Time project and then Hot Tuna’s Steady As She Goes. We would talk about music… a little, but what we really connected on in this part of our life… was family. To see him happy with his wife, his daughter and his grandson was to know that he was right where he needed to be. After all is said and done… it is the love of family that brings us home.

As I write this, I am on a bus from Ohio to Florida to play a festival. Were he not where he is today, he would either be on a bus himself with Larry Campbell and his friends, or home in Woodstock walking his dogs with the kid.

Levon helped create what has become the soundtrack to a large part of my life. He was always a friend and a comrade in arms. The span of his art has joined two centuries.

As you approach this final voyage Lee, may your journey beyond the stars be filled with light. You will always be in our hearts. Fair winds and following seas brother!

Home away from home

Home away from home

Categories: Set Lists Tags:

Perfection In The County

April 16th, 2012 8 comments
The weekend begins with beauty!

The weekend begins with beauty!

This past weekend at the Fur Peace Ranch we hosted Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams as well as Happy Traum. Happy, Larry and myself conducted classes and Teresa flew in for the concert on Saturday night. It was a beautiful weekend and I was ably assisted in my class by the wondrous Marjorie Thompson. Larry and Teresa’s show Saturday night was as elegantly beautiful as it always is. I got to play a couple of numbers with them as did Happy. To simply say, ‘What a night!’ would be an understatement.

Sunday, we did a little show for the students. I opened with a couple of numbers… called Larry and Teresa up and then our good friend Pat Sweany stopped by on his way to Nashville and played a couple numbers. On came Happy Traum and he alternately brought up Larry and Teresa, as well as Pat and myself. It was one of those absolutely perfect evenings of music without pressure!

It’s hard to beat perfection!

Me, Larry, Happy, Teresa and our very own John Hurlbut

Me, Larry, Happy, Teresa and our very own John Hurlbut

Once again, the Fur Peace Ranch give us a dwelling place that reinforces why we play music anyway.

Good times!

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch Tags:

Interim Report

April 10th, 2012 16 comments
Chilly but Spring nonetheless

Chilly but Spring nonetheless

My son Zachary’s Spring Break was over yesterday and he’s back at school today. I’ll miss that young man, but we’ll be seeing him again in a month or so. Izze just took her theory test in piano yesterday and aced it. An almost six years of age, she reads music better than I. Chuck and Donna are visiting from California and we’re having a great time showing them the ‘sights.’

This weekend we have another camp at the Fur Peace Ranch with Marjorie Thompson, myself as well as Larry Campbell and Happy Traum.

Time at home has been great and well… what more could one want at this moment in time?

Yep, we're smiling!

Yep, we're smiling!

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch Tags:

Son & Father

April 7th, 2012 11 comments
Son And Father

Son And Father

Yesterday my son, Zachary Kaukonen-Kearse, my daughter Israel Love and my wife Vanessa and I celebrated Passover with our friends at the Hillel Center in Athens Ohio. Good times indeed!

A Sweet Passover to all our friends out there… those we know, and those we are yet to know!

Categories: Diary, Thoughts Tags:

Pete Huttlinger & Geoff Achison

April 3rd, 2012 9 comments
The start of a great weekend

The start of a great weekend

This past weekend we hosted Pete Huttlinger and Geoff Achison at the second weekend of the fifteenth year of the good old Fur Peace Ranch.

The road to the Ranch

The road to the Ranch

The classes were fabulous and Saturday night the show was Geoff Achison and Randall Bramblett. Teddy, the bass player got stuck in Atlanta at Hartsfield Airport so the boys along with their drummer presented a trio show that was, well… absolutely fantastic! Hard to beat perfection.

Red Bud at the Ranch

Red Bud at the Ranch

It was so great to see and hear Pete after his illness… He is quite a guy, a great musician and wonderful human being. Geoff has been with us at the Ranch from day one fifteen years ago and it is always wonderful to see and hear him. Now a little bit of time at home with the family. Life is indeed… good!

Sky view at the Ranch

Sky view at the Ranch

More anon…

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Venues Tags: