The Acoustic Storm Interviews

Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna/Jorma Kaukonen

Jorma Kaukonen was lead guitarist for Jefferson Airplane and gave the band their name. He started Hot Tuna with fellow Airplane bassist Jack Casady in 1970 and they continue to perform as Hot Tuna, both electric and acoustic. We spoke with Kaukonen from his guitar camp in southeastern Ohio on June 14, 2007 as he was preparing for a performance the following weekend at the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee.

ACOUSTIC STORM: What have you been doing in terms of Hot Tuna?

KAUKONEN: Actually, Hot Tuna has never really quit. In fact, our first gig on this tour is Bonaroo and it\’s going to be electric. We also do acoustic shows. Jack (Casady) and I co-opted my partner Barry Mitterhoff into our acoustic Hot Tuna. In the acoustic show, I play acoustic guitar, obviously, and Jack plays electric bass and Barry plays mandolin, tenor banjo and tenor guitar and sometimes ukelele and they are acoustic.

ACOUSTIC STORM: As long as we\’re on the subject of Hot Tuna, most of your fans know that the band formed while you were still recording with Jefferson Airplane. But what made you guys decide to branch off in the midst of it all?

KAUKONEN: Well consider this: next year, Jack and I will have been playing together for 50 years. We played together before Jefferson Airplane and always had our thing going on. To tell you the truth, my experience with Jefferson Airplane was exciting and it was a blessing in a million different ways. But there just came a point when I just wasn\’t really into the poppy direction The Airplane was going into. That\’s not a qualitative judgment, it\’s just that I wasn\’t into that. Of course, then Jack and I did the acoustic album, but then we got subverted by stacks of amplifiers, too. We just kind of like doing our own thing together. Maybe this is the most important thing: Jack and I have never had a band meeting. One of the things that breaks bands up is the band meeting, kind of like a Spinal Tap thing. People complain about the most trivial things and drive each other nuts, but we\’ve never done that.

ACOUSTIC STORM: So you never ordered the t-shirts?

KAUKONEN: Right (laughs)
Check back for more of The Acoustic Storm\’s exclusive interview with Jorma Kaukonen.

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