Hot Tuna and Friends
Live at the Beacon Theater
New York City, New York
November 30, 2012
By Robert Putignano
When you’re finished reading all about this great show, head on over to this week’s Photo Page to see some of Bob’s photographs from the show.
What a night! Hot Tuna fronted by Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady have been at the forefront of Tuna for over four decades now. About a decade ago Barry Mitterhoff was added to play various string guitars as a wonderful foil for Jorma to play off of, and most recently they added the very gifted Skoota Warner on drums. This same four-piece unit recorded and produced the very fine Steady As She Goes about two years ago with Larry Campbell producing. On this very special evening (they also played the Beacon the next eve) special guests included Larry Campbell and his wife Teresa Williams, five-time Grammy winner Cindy Cashdollar, G.E. Smith, Steve Kimock, Bill Kirchen, and Lincoln Schleifer on bass.
First set: The evening began with Casady coming out by himself and welcoming the audience with a short but sweet bass solo. Not long afterwards, Casady was joined by his cohorts Jorma, Barry, and Larry Campbell, who broke into “Candyman.” Campbell exited as Skoota joined in on drums and performed “Can’t Get Satisifed.” Campbell’s exit was brief as he returned for “Children of Zion.” “Serpent of Dreams” added for the first time G.E. Smith and Steve Kimock. Smith stayed on for “Long Gone From Kentucky” and continued with Bill Kirchen and Lincoln Schleifer (making the band a double-bass-playing unit) for “Bowlegged Woman.” At this point Jorma stated that he is often asked if Tuna performs any Grateful Dead songs, enter Larry Campbell and Teresa (on vocals), who mightily broke into a particularly stirring and riveting “Sugaree” that was easily the highlight of the set. The crowd definitely adored it with long applause upon completion. The old-time hits kept coming with a fabulously hot “Come Back Baby,” where it was great to see and hear Cindy Cashdollar’s electric steel guitar, and (from their latest album) “Easy Now Revisited,” and closed with “Hit Single #1.” This set lasted approximately ninety minutes, and there was more to come!
The second set kicked off with “I See the Light” with G.E. Smith and Kimock, followed by “Living in the Moment” with Cindy Cashdollar. From the new album “Mama Let Me Lay It on You” brought back Campbell, as Cashdollar stayed on. Steve Kimock and G.E. lent their crafts on “Many Rivers to Cross and “Barbeque King.” Kirchen sang “Time’s They Are a Changin’,” which was okay, but I did not appreciate the theater blaring the house lights every time they repeated the chorus. Also from the new album, “Mourning Interrupted” was performed by the core Tuna band with Larry Cambell. Cashdollar returned for excellent “99 Years Blues” that also brought back Schleifer on second bass. The night rocked on further with Campbell and Teresa on “Bar Room Crystal Ball,” and soared into orbit with a lengthy “Funky #7” that seemingly had every guest on stage, where the extended jam produced echoes of Hendrix courtesy of G.E. Smith’s best leads of the evening, and ended the set. If that wasn’t enough (I didn’t think they’d do an encore), the band returned with “Baby What You Want Me To Do?” That left everyone at the Beacon completely satisfied.
So there you have it, nearly a four-hour concert, with a thirty-to-forty-minute break between sets. Amazing when you consider Jorma is soon to be seventy-two and Casady turned sixty-eight earlier this year! For me, the best moments were when either the core Hot Tuna played, when Campbell joined in at times trading blistering dual leads with Jorma. I also enjoyed Cashdollar’s contributions, but I have to say that I wasn’t as enamored with all the juggling of the guests. As the saying goes, too many cooks can spoil the broth. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful evening of (mostly) outstanding music! Hot Tuna’s still is very vibrant, may they play on for many years to come.
Bob Putignano is a senior contributing editor at BluesWax, a contributing writer at Blues Revue, and the heart and soul of Sounds of Blue.
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