Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hot Tuna comes to Phoenix!

Well, Mesa to be exact. Last night Jorma, Jack and Barry weathered the heat and performed for an intimate crowd of in tune followers at the Mesa Arts Center. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Mesa Arts Center it is certainly one of the finest facilities of it's type anywhere. I have seen many shows here including Buddy Guy and Jeff Beck as well as Hot Tuna on numerous occasions. The interior aesthetic of the Virginia G. Piper Repertory Theater is matched only by it's incredible acoustic quality which brings us to the show. Hot Tuna played a 26 (to my count) song

set which was broken by one short intermission. HT (Jorma Kaukonen on his signature Martin tobacco burst acoustic and vocals; Barry Mitterhoff on mandolin, ukelele, tenor guitar and octave mandolin; and Jack Casady on his signature Epiphone hollow body electric bass put together a very cohesive and interesting show. The concert began with True Religion which set the pace for what was to come all night... Hot Tuna, Rev. Gary Davis, rag style blues (with a touch of bluegrass and jazz). Early in the concert they played Hesitation Blues, one of my personal favorites in very traditional regalia but with a sweet "Hillbilly Jazz" (bluegrass and jazz mixed) break in the middle. Mitterhoff played a particularly cool solo on this track. On another RG Davis track, Let's Get Together, Jack took the first of many bass solos of the evening. Come Back Baby and Let's Talk It Over were both particularly strong. Jorma's guitar work was clean and expressive and he played a particularly nice solo on this track. How Long blues was another really strong performance followed by Let Me Lay It On You and a bluegrass jam to finish the first set. During the break I was checking out the bands gear and ended up in a discussion with the couple sitting just in front of me. I have been recently suffering dry eyes, a pretty common malady of living in the desert, using the computer too much and so on. The lady in front of me offered a vial of a solution that she has been prescribed and wow did it help. I also ran into a good friend Gene and his wife Cindi, fellow Hot Tuna fans. Second set included the Vicksburg Stomp (and they were literally dancing in the aisles), 99 Year Blues, Bar B Que King (featuring a great blues solo by Jorma)and the Doctor Gonna Fix It. This was a particularly great set sans the one overly exuberant fan sitting in the front row (with the close cut hair, wire rimmed glasses and Tommy Bahama shirt...yeah you know who you are) who was clapping along just ahead of the band to the point of total disruption. I mean it's hard enough for a totally acoustic band to run through all of these great tunes and stay tight but to have some egghead with no rhythm clapping louder than the band! I least he enjoyed himself. HT wrapped the set with Good Shepherd, Parchment Farm, Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning (one of my favorites from the early days of Tuna) and encoring with the Water Song. Nobody left the house without their fill of great traditional blues and Hot Tuna mix. Barry, Jack and Jorma played their asses off and Jorma's voice sounds as solid as it did when he first formed Hot Tuna. I don't know if it was the theatre acoustics or Jorma's guitar but it really sounded particularly crisp. The interactions of the band members were priceless and Jack became quite animated during a number of tracks which is always a treat. These guys were having fun and so was the audience. If you haven't seen these guys in a few years, this is a great. Catch it while you can. Great show guys!!

I apologize for the lack of photos and original video but I'm having el;ectronic malfunction today. I'll replace the video and supplimental photos as I can.

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