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Hot Tuna - Live at New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA 09/69

  by Carl Bookstein

published: 19 / 11 / 2017

Hot Tuna - Live at New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA 09/69
Label: Floating World
Format: CD


Terrific early 1969 concert recording from Hot Tuna, which was then a Jefferson Airplane side project

Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen (guitarist/vocalist) and Jack Casady (bass) convened for a then Airplane side project Hot Tuna. 'Live at New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA 9/69', recorded some 48 years ago, showcases the band in excellent form. 'Come Back Baby', the Lightning Hopkins classic, starts this live disc on a perfect note, with the easy strum of Jorma’s acoustic guitar. “Come Back Baby/Let’s talk it over one more time,” Jorma sings- the number stings, radiating a resonant folk blues truth. Originally a side project, Hot Tuna is a band that has ultimately lasted. Just in 2014, I saw Hot Tuna live at the Sunshine Music Festival in Boca Raton, Florida. They are still great, but the sound of this 1969 Berkeley, California show is stellar for certain. 'Keep On Truckin’' is light and playful. “Keep on truckin’ mama/Truck my blues away,” Jorma sings, followed by 'Death Don’t Have No Mercy', steeped in folk and blues. “Say death don’t have no mercy in this land.” It is an evocative performance of a blues traditional by Reverend Gary Davis, rendered with a whole lot of soul- guitar and bass, Jorma and Casady playing off each other beautifully. 'Uncle Sam Blues' rings of truth as well, its narrator a soldier headed off for war. “Gonna do some kind of fighting/Good Lord only knows what for.” 'Know You Rider' begins here with the rich tones of a harmonica. “I know you rider gonna miss me when I’m gone… Said the sun gonna shine in my back door some day.” This one, a Grateful Dead concert staple, is given a fine treatment here by Hot Tuna. 'Never Happen No More' is also heartfelt, rollicking, and more natural well played folk blues. Another resonant tune, 'True Religion' is a Jorma-penned number, speaking of Jesus and voicing hallelujah. 'Sea Child' features a beautiful instrumental intro, Jorma’s acoustic guitar notes so well played and touching. The vocal: “Reminds me once again how nice it is to be with you” speaks so poignantly of love itself, perhaps the greatest truth of all- leading back into a gorgeous flowing instrumental conclusion. 'Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning' is the solid closer to a strong, first-rate live set and outing by Hot Tuna. These Jefferson Airplane heroes Jorma and Casady are terrific musicians, and it is purely a good thing that what started out as an Airplane side project, Hot Tuna, wound up lasting.

Track Listing:-
1 Come Back Baby
2 Keep On Truckin'
3 Death Don't Have No Mercy
4 Winin' Boy Blues
5 Uncle Sam Blues
6 Know You Rider
7 Don't You Leave Me Here
8 Never Happen No More
9 How Long Blues
10 True Religion
11 Sea Religion
12 Candy Man
13 Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning

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