Archive for April, 2020

Friday Moving On…

April 10th, 2020 15 comments

John Prine’s death took us all by surprise even though I guess in retrospect we might have seen it in the wind. Rest in peace John… your work here on earth may done but we will be wrapped in your spirit for a long time. What a powerful legacy although I imagine that’s a small consolation to his surviving family. Your are all in my prayers.

There’s no good time for bad news and that bad news put some of my daily ruminations on hold, so I will take this opportunity to release them from their confinement.

Almost a week ago Nessa and Izze and I climbed into our truck on a beautiful day and drove to Athens town for some takeout from the Casa Nueva, our local ‘Counter Culture’ Mexicanesque restaurant. My two favorite times to eat at the Casa are breakfast and dinner. I’m not really a lunch guy except when the Fur Peace Ranch is in session, of course. I tend to be a creature of habit so my breakfast order is almost always their scrambled tofu (which is totally awesome in utterly unreplicatable at home), a side of their more than killer bacon, dry wheat roast and whatever their homemade jam de jour might be. Eating breakfast out is a social event for me so the takeout b’fast is not on my to do list. Dinner, however, is another story. At the Casa I always get the #3 dinner. I’ve been ordering this for twenty years. It’s a chicken enchilada with black bean sauce, rice and a small cheese empanada. I forget what the girls got but with take out in hand we got back in the truck and drove over to the river by Parks Hall and found a socially distant spot under a blossoming cherry tree.

Great day for a picnic

Great day for a picnic

Timed selfie by Vanessa Kaukonen

It’s chilly here today. There was a freeze warning last night. Big change from the high seventies/low eighties you see in these pictures. Ah, April… gotta love it!

Anyway, back home Vanessa ( the four leaf clover whisperer) found what might have been the first emerging four leaf clover in our little yard.

Bingo... it is found!

Bingo... it is found!

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

I did get several really good motorcycle rides in while the weather wasn’t bone chilling and there was almost no traffic on the highways and back roads. Not a big surprise but thoroughly enjoyable.

It’s Friday as I write this and tomorrow will be #2 Of The Quarantine Concert Series, Live From The Fur Peace Ranch. I wanted to research some lyrics for some tunes I haven’t done in a really long time. I needed to check out some lyrics and the info I needed was unintelligible on youtube so I went down to the old studio behind our house and started looking through my CD collection. I needed a tune from Too Hot To Handle. I was halfway through the Jorma/Hot Tuna/Jefferson Airplane CD collection when… there it was! The Too Hot Too Handle CD almost jumped in my hand!


I opened the jewel case… it was empty. Good grief. I’m sure that album is somewhere on line, but I couldn’t find it. I went to my vinyl shelves. I never got rid of any of my vinyl so these records (and they are records) go back over fifty years. Anyway, right under my hand as I pulled back the Indian bedspread that keeps dust off all this stuff was the Too Hot To Handle LP with the shrink wrap intact.

In living color...

In living color...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

I thought about playing the cut I needed on Dad’s old Denon turntable via the Marantz pre-amp on it’s way through the Austin and Michaelson TVA-1 power amp with the JBL 4312’s as a final destination but what the heck. I took the LP up to the house, cut the shrink wrap off and put it on the Rega turntable through the NAD Stereo Receiver 7155 with the music reaching my ears via a matched set of Polk Audio speakers. The speakers and the NAD came to live with us when my dad passed away in 1997. That gear still sounds great. Anyway, I heard the song and got the missing verse I needed. (I’ll be doing this tune on the show tomorrow night so I’ll be back later to talk about it.)

Vinyl… cool. Brings back memories of when listening to music was a appointment experience. Finding the sweet spot… digging the stereo imaging, the whole sonic deal.

OK Nuff said for now. If you haven’t done so, please subscribe to the Fur Peace Ranch YouTube channel. It doesn’t cost a darn thing and the numbers really help us out.

Here ya go:

Catch you in the internet ether…

Stay well!

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:


April 8th, 2020 22 comments

We were watching a movie with our daughter last night. It was an old Brad Silberling flick called City Of Angels with Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan. Sort of a 90’s piece about living and dying, love and loss. I wasn’t sure whether our teenager would grok this flick but at the end I think she dug it on some level.

As the movie was winding up and coming in for a landing I heard a gasp from Vanessa on the chair next to us. ‘John Prine just died…’ And then nothing. I was and am, profoundly moved.

Of course John’s music has been a part of our lives for a half a century, more or less so in a way I felt like I knew him. In the early 90’s when the Kaukonens had just moved to Meigs County we forayed up to Columbus and saw co-bill with him and Nancy Griffith. It was delightful. I remember he was digging in on a little finger picking vignette between verses and he looked out on us in the audience with a sly smile and in a sotto voce stage whisper he confided in us all. “Pick it John!’

Good stuff, and a nice memory.

My first meeting with John was at the Love For Levon Save The Barn Benefit on October 3rd, 2012 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. There was a massive aggregation of amazing talent there that night and I found myself sharing a dressing room with John Prine and Alain Toussaint. There I was in a room with two men whose music had helped to garnish my path in life.

It was an amazing moment. Alain was gracious but regally distant and that was more than OK. John and I started to talk and in that moment for some reason, I felt like he might have been one of my old friends from the neighborhood in D.C. where I grew up. We talked about this and that and I remember that I told him about the Fur Peace Ranch and how much I would like to see him up at our place. I think we talked about motorcycles too. Well, that’s how I remember it so I’ll just say that’s just how it was. We would see each other one more time at Merlefest down in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. I would not see him again.

Somehow, I see a point in all this. Why should the death of someone I really barely knew affect me in such a profound emotional way? Last week I got an email from a friend from the American School where I studied back in Manila in 1957. An old friend Donnie C. had just passed away. Donnie was one of the first people who befriended me when our family was posted to the Philippines in 1956. As a Foreign Service brat, those first moments in a new post always seemed life threatening. She made me feel welcome. As time passed we all went our own ways and the last time I saw her was in 1963 at Mills College in the East Bay of San Francisco. I always wondered what happened to her as we sometimes do with old friends we don’t see, but I never followed up on it and life happened between then and now.

Momentary intersections that sparkle like diamonds in the long road of an almost eighty-year-old man. As I write this I am having coffee here at the Fur Peace Ranch in the midst of trying times. We are all surrounded by a world-wide pandemic… WW C as I choose to call it. Regardless of national allegiance or any other artificial boundaries we choose to tribalize ourselves with, we might have come in on different ships, but today we are all in the same boat as they say. With death truly becoming a more than a noticeable part of our daily life how can I pick who to mourn? Well, there are plenty of candidates to pick from so maybe it’s just being touched in a random way by the hand of time… and maybe it’s just bathing in the reality that time is all we have until it’s gone.

The COVID-19 virus is taking so much from all of us, but for us older folks… it’s taking time. It’s putting a full stop to all those things we think we might get to one of these days, calling this person… writing that one… whatever, all those things that might never get done because the universe doesn’t wait for good intentions.

Well… John and Donnie are just two examples for me of this malaise… this inertia. Some things that are put off will always be left undone and that too, is just the way it is.

From Connie Kaldor’s Thin Thread

‘Life is a thin thread
It’s a thin little hand on a hospital bed
It’s all of the things that you’ve left unsaid
Life is a thin thread
Its a fine line between loving and not
Between holding it back or giving all that you’ve got
Feeling you’re free thinking you’re caught
It’s a fine line’

There is still a lot left to do!

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

Sunday Morning Getting Up…

April 5th, 2020 32 comments

With apologies to Kris Kristofferson 🙂

Neighbor Donnie's field...

Neighbor Donnie's field...

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Indeed life has been disrupted for the world in these days of World War C, but for some life just goes on. It’s little hard to see in the picture above taken from my back porch but here’s the deal. I was pottering around the Ranch getting ready for the live stream last night and I heard this noise. ‘What the heck is that?’ I thought. I looked down over my little road to the A-Frame and there was my neighbor Donnie on his John Deere discing the field. Part of that field is ours but we don’t do anything with it so we let him farm it. Anyway, those of us who live in the country immediately recognize the sound of a full sized tractor… not one of those fancy riding mowers with a hydrostatic drive. Yep… if the cows are going to eat, silage must be planted virus or no virus. It just reminded me yet one more time how fragile our time on this planet is. Yeah, it’s all well and good for those of us who have ‘non-essential’ jobs to shelter in place while someone else does our shopping for us, keeps the power and water on and delivers stuff from Amazon Prime. As we grains of sand get shaken in the cosmic sifter, it will be interesting to see who’s left at the end of the day.

In the meantime, I’ll take the win… and for us here at the Fur Peace Ranch the win was pulling of our first live stream concert during the Pandemic. Big thanks to our videographer, Andy Walla, who left her husband and infant son at home to direct the show from the ‘flight deck’ backstage. My good friend Myron Hart who is always there for us and our daughter Izze, who ran one of the cameras. As we all know here, the real captain of this ship is Vanessa and she was and always is everywhere making sure everything works. If you’re one of her Facebook buddies, then you know about the mask projects she has been into with the help of her sister Ginger and her mother Virginia.

Anyway, here’s the set list from last night’s show:

Jorma Kaukonen 1, 2020
#1 Of The Quarantine Concert Series
Live From The Fur Peace Ranch
Fur Peace Station
Darwin, Ohio
Saturday, April 4, 2020

1. San Francisco Bay Blues
2. Heart Temporary
3. Blue Railroad Train
4. Been So Long
5. Sea Child
6. In The Kingdom
7. Good Shepherd
8. Brother Can You Spare A Dime?
9. Let Us Get Together Right Down Here
10. Water Song…

oops, and Barbecue King in there somewhere… 🙂

Thanks for the good questions you sent me via Vanessa. Sorry we couldn’t get to them all… more next Saturday.

Big kudos to all those out there in the ‘real world’ keeping our society staggering along. Medical pros, first responders, folks on trucks, in the service sector… hey, I could go on and on. You are all appreciated.

That’s about it for now. As always…

More will be revealed!

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Set Lists, Thoughts Tags:

Saturday Morning

April 4th, 2020 49 comments
Saturday morning at our place

Saturday morning at our place

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Well here it is Saturday morning and indeed… it is a new day. Had a lovely morning walk with Percy, our manly Chihuahua and Maverick, the Big Guy, walked himself. A new day today, as it is every day. Took a few steps back before moving forward, some outstanding early morning breaths in the frosty 36 degree weather. Moving right along indeed. My David Flammang J-35 will get the call to serve tonight although I will have two old friends on stage with me for inspirations. You will see my 1958 J-35… the guitar that my musical identity sprung from and my 1936 Gibson Advanced Jumbo. (Well, this one was made in 1997) This is the guitar I cut Blue Country Heart with. Never had electronics… never will. Anyway… I’m fired up.

Morning light on the Station Stage

Morning light on the Station Stage

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

There are still many things in life to look forward to. This may be a small one, but I’ll take the win.

Have a great day all, and see you tonight on the stream.

Here’s the link again. Be there or be square.

The Fur Peace Station awaits!



Foto by Jorma Kaukonen

Categories: Diary, Fur Peace Ranch, Thoughts Tags:

Yet One More County Heard From…

April 3rd, 2020 37 comments

Hey guys and gals

Normally I’d wait to run some of my reply by Vanessa before posting, but why wait? Restraint of tongue and pen you know, but sometimes you just have to say what you feel! Ness pretty much eloquently said what I would have said, only more so. Boy you just can’t make this shit up. There is no reason for someone to really know or care anything about my life or the travails thereof. That would be truly self-centered on my part and as self-centered as I am, I’m not there yet. All that being said (and keeping in mind it’s not my business what other people think of me) humans sometimes appall me.

So, as some of you might know I wrote a memoir, Been So Long,’ that came out in 2018. St. Martin’s Press just released the paperback edition and my publicist Cash arranged some press to go along with the release. Now all this was scheduled way before our Ostrich-In-Chief (head in the sand) decided that the Coronal Virus was actually something to worry about. Anyway, I was on the phone with my pals up there in Columbus, Ohio on radio WQFM and we shot the shit for a while, pushed the book a little and talked about life today in 2020.

I had a good time chatting and having chatted moved on. I guess Vanessa posted a link for the interview with QFM. Cool… or so we thought. Vanessa gets this email from this guy Michael R.

‘I question why jorma would release his memoirs about his “musical life” at this time, when we are at war with a virus that is killing 1000 people a day in new york city. Seems like a very selfish gesture to me. I don’t care about his musical life at this time. How about using his talent to help someone at this time of war?’

Wow Michael. Heavy. I can see you’re a deep thinker. Well, since you’re being a dick let me point out that Jorma is a proper noun and should be capitalized as should New York City. You’re no e.e.cummings of that I’m sure! You’re spending too much time in your iPad.


Here’s Vanessa’s response and my opening shot is quite simply, that’s my girl!


Jorma wrote his book in 2018. The paperback was just recently released. This radio interview that was just released and posted was scheduled prior to our excuse for a president even acknowledging COVID-19 was an issue. If you’d done your fucking homework before you went off and made yourself look like as asshole you’d know everything that Jorma has done and continues to do for his community. Are you aware that he’s been supporting veterans for nearly two decades or that he donates his tour money and time to habitat for humanity, literacy organizations, children’s museums, teen drug and alcohol recovery, music in the schools, local food banks, equine rescue and to specific organizations that feed the hungry in our country? Shame on you! Shame on you! You know nothing about his philanthropic work. As far as this virus goes, we’ve turned our down time into making masks and hand sanitizer with the help of my sister and my 91 year old mother who has Alzheimer’s. We’ve sent masks to first responders and patients in New York, Long Island, Massachusetts, Chicago and here locally in our own community. They are free. We are not gouging anyone (like so many large corporations are doing) for our efforts.

I’m sorry your own ignorance has you so confused and clearly hateful. Next time you want to take someone to task, do your homework!

I wish you well and only hope you are stepping up in this time of crisis.’

Hey Vanessa, thanks and a big socially distant hug to you. Hey everybody, it’s nice to be liked and appreciated, but it’s not a given and it’s surely not mandated. That being said I really try to avoid caring about what other people think of me. Vanessa was way more verbal on my behalf than I would have been.

I guess I’m a little perplexed about what some people seem to think the life of a performer and an artist is like. I used to say, ‘It beats digging ditches,’ but, but these troubled times digging ditches might be a lot more productive. The talents and skills I’ve spent my life trying to improve have little survival value in a post-apocalyptic world. Yeah, I’ve put aside some food and important survival needs and yeah, I’ve got a generator, but nothing lasts forever and when they’re gone, there gone. I won’t be harvesting a deer with my guitar that’s for sure. And BTW, I’m not whining about that. If and when the time comes, I’ll figure how to survive with my family.

OK… Thanks Vanessa for being my fierce protector. Our family could not survive without you having our back. We are truly blessed. You just can’t beat a strong family in times of need.

In the words of my father, Jorma Sr.
‘Why are there so many more horses’ asses than there are horses?’

Thanks Dad!

Now a reminder to all you out there in the Peanut Gallery (Howdy Doody reference). Remember:

Saturday April 4, 2020 at eight PM that selfish, egocentric, uncaring, unfeeling and totally un-empathic guitarist, Jorma Kaukonen will be doing an online free concert from the (sad to say) empty Fur Peace Station:

As for my readers here, we may not always agree, but thanks for hanging in there.

Have a great day all!

PS The Fur Peace Ranch is pretty much abandoned but there is always maintenance and a skeleton staff. I was just outside talking to John Hurlbut our Ranch Manager and we were appreciating the smell of the grass that was just cut this morning. I looked up at the blue sky and strange say in that moment I was briefly transported back to my old house in San Francisco on Yerba Buena Ave. The blue sky, the tiny yard and the smell of freshly cut grass… and then it was gone and I was back in our Meigs County Spring.

What a day!

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