Hot Tuna is an American blues band formed in 1969 by former Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady. Although it has always been a fluid aggregation, with musicians coming and going over the years, the band’s name has essentially become a metonym for Kaukonen and Casady’s ongoing collaboration
Stage appearances were initially integrated within the Airplane’s performances on the same bill. During one of the Airplane’s rest periods, the duo began to appear in their own right, often as a rock trio with the then Airplane drummer, Joey Covington. Having had the name Hot Shit rejected (Kaukonen has since refuted this), they settled on Hot Tuna and released a self-titled debut as a duo, with a guest appearance from harmonica player Will Scarlett. The set was drawn largely from traditional blues/ragtime material by Jelly Roll Morton and the Rev. Gary Davis, with Casady’s booming and meandering bass lines interplaying superbly with Kaukonen’s fluid acoustic guitar. By the time of their second album, another live set, they were a full-blown rock quartet with the addition of violinist Papa John Creach (b. John Henry Creach, 28 May 1917, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, USA, d. 22 February 1994, Los Angeles, California, USA) and Sammy Piazza on drums. This line-up nailed the perfect combination of electric and acoustic rock/blues for which Casady and Kaukonen had been looking.
Creach had departed by the time The Phosphorescent Rat was recorded, and Piazza, who had left to join Stoneground was replaced by Bob Steeler in 1974. The music became progressively louder, so that by the time of their sixth album they sounded like a rumbling heavy rock traditional ragtime blues band. Kaukonen’s limited vocal range added to this odd concoction, but throughout all this time the band maintained a hardcore following. In 1978 the duo split, resulting in Casady embarking on an ill-advised excursion into what was perceived as punk with SVT. Kaukonen continued with a solo career combining both electric and acoustic performances. At best Hot Tuna were excitingly different, at worst they were ponderous and loud. Selected stand-out tracks from their erratic repertoire were ‘Mann’s Fate’ from Hot Tuna, ‘Keep On Truckin’’ and ‘Sea Child’ from Burgers, ‘Song From The Stainless Cymbal’ from Hoppkorv, and ‘Hit Single #1’ from America’s Choice. Casady and Kaukonen reunited in the mid-80s, and returned to recording in 1991 with a workmanlike album that found little favour with the record-buying public. Since 1984, Relix Records have released several archival and contemporary live albums.
Hot Tuna was formed by Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady. The name Hot Tuna invokes as many different moods and reactions as there are Hot Tuna fans. To some, Hot Tuna is a reminder of some wild and happy times. To others, that name will forever be linked to their own discovery of the power and depth of American blues and roots music. To newer fans, Hot Tuna is a tight, masterful duo that is on the cutting edge of great music. This special performance in 2011 is the only released recording from the Hot Tuna Blues Tour which featured harmonica virtuoso Charlie Musselwhite. The recording showcases the electric energy of Hot Tuna with the harmonic sounds of Musselwhite which can be heard on “Where HWY 61 Runs,” “Crying Won’t Help You,” and more. This is an all electric album featuring blues covers by Bobby Rush, Robert Nighthawk, Walter Davis and Jimmy Reed.
Run Time Approx. 55 Minutes