LIVE: Hot Tuna’s 50th Anniversary Tour @ Troy Music Hall 12/3/2019

The stage of Troy Music Hall was festively decorated with boughs of holly. Setting the tone for a festive celebration of the 50th anniversary of Hot Tuna.

It is hard to believe Hot Tuna started out as an offshoot of the mighty Jefferson Airplane 50 years ago and survived after the Airplane crashed and burned from the excesses and pressures of the music scene of the 60s. Jack and Jorma played together as teenagers in Washington DC in the 50s before reuniting in San Francisco as founding members of the Airplane. Hot Tuna was started as a side project

The band has appeared many times in the area as both an electric blues band and as an acoustic band. This particular concert they played as a duo just like the way they started. Both of them used small amplifiers for the setup so the music they produced utilized the fine acoustics of the hall to great effect. Music flowed out to the audience at low volume at which one point Jorma quipped, “I can’t believe I think it is almost too loud” to the amusement of the audience.

Members of the audience including myself closed their eyes to listen deeply into the music. Jorma’s complex thoughtful fingerpicking guitar wove in and out of Jack’s melodic bass lines emanating from his custom bass as they have for the past 6o years. Each gave the other enough space for a thoughtful solo to add to their musical conversation. They played songs originating from the Delta nearly a hundred years ago, as well as, Hot Tuna and Airplane standards such as: “Hesitation Blues,” “Barbecue Blues,” “Candy Man,” “Death Has No Mercy,” “I Know You Rider,” “Good Shepherd,” and “Water Song.” While the songs are always slightly unique, they pay reverence to the originals.

Opening for Jorma and Jack were husband and wife Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams.

The capital region is well-acquainted with Larry and Teresa as they played at the Hall just a few weeks ago, opening for Little Feat. Larry and Teresa’s set leaned toward country having toured with Levon Helm for many years and is more celebratory than acoustic Hot Tuna. Since, Theresa was recovering from rotator cuff surgery, she could not yet hold her guitar. Fortunately, Jorma’s guitar tech, Myron Hart, was called to the stage and happily played. Jorma even sat in for one song.

Happy 50th Jorma and Jack, hope to see more of you in years to come.

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