Nothing fishy about Hot Tuna's blues

Nothing fishy about Hot Tuna's blues

( - OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Hot Tuna, the American blues band created by bassist Jack Casady and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen as a spin-off of Jefferson Airplane, is joined by blues-harp player Charlie Musselwhite and country-and-bluegrass artist Jim Lauderdale in Hot Tuna Blues at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 5, in Yardley Hall of the Carlsen Center, Johnson County Community College.

The Kaukonen-Casady duo created much of Jefferson Airplane’s signature sound, and Kaukonen’s lead and finger-style guitar playing characterizes some of the band’s most memorable tracks. As Jefferson Airplane wound down, Hot Tuna began playing independently in 1970, and the group has recorded and toured ever since.

After two decades of acoustic and electric concerts and albums, the 1990s brought a new focus on acoustic music to Hot Tuna. They played more intimate venues with more individual connection to the audience. The loud electric music and the truck full of equipment disappeared entirely from Hot Tuna tours.

Along the way, they have been joined by a succession of talented musicians. For this performance, Musselwhite incorporates his musical experiences — from early Mississippi Delta days to immersion in Chicago urban blues that make him “the world’s greatest living blues harmonica player” ( New York Press ). Although he has 18 W.C. Handy ( “Father of Blues” ) Awards, six Grammy nominations and the Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, Musselwhite says he is constantly working on new material. He is famous for his quote, “Blues is tough.”

Two-time Grammy Award-winner Lauderdale, one of the premier Americana and bluegrass artists in music today, is a multi-talented musician and songwriter. He is among Nashville’s “A” list of songwriters with songs recorded by artists such as Patty Loveless, The Dixie Chicks, Mark Chesnutt, Vince Gill, George Strait and Kathy Mattea. He has hosted the American Music Association for seven years and won “Artist of the Year” and “Song of the Year” from the Association.

While Kaukonen and Casady, along with members of the Jefferson Airplane, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, Hot Tuna’s sound today is primarily original and traditional blues songs. From psychedelic rock to blues, the musicians have changed, but two things have not: they still love to play music together, and they plan to continue their musical odyssey.

Tickets are $35, $45 and $80 ( orchestra pit ), available by calling the PAS box office, 913-469-4445, or online at
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