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Hot Tuna, Leon Russell CL Recommends

When: Tue., Jan. 14 2014
Price: $32-$168

Originally christened Hot Shit, much to the chagrin of record label suits, Hot Tuna began as an early ’70s busman’s holiday for Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and group bassist Jack Casady. The side project picked up steam, balancing stripped-down acoustic folk and blues with electrified full-tilt boogie, and by 1974, Tuna was the two longtime friends’ steady gig, reaching a high point with the molten psychedelia of 1975 LP Yellow Fever. Just as Airplane’s peace-and-love era canon retains a freshness unmatched by their subsequent “We-Built-This-City” Starship blather, Hot Tuna’s rootsy side proved more immediate and durable than their face-melting lava lamp highs of the mid-’70s. With the addition of mandolinist Barry Mitterhoff, Hot Tuna is mostly an acoustic outfit these days. Yet they still generate the excitement of yore, spawning a telepathic round robin of hot-shit playing that bounces between Casady’s bass-as-lead-guitar runs and Kaukonen’s Reverend Gary Davis-style flat-picking. Gigging together for 50-plus years, Kaukonen and Casady continue to push the boundaries of the Americana genre they helped create. (Pat Moran)


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