Hot Tuna – 2018-04-04 – The Paramount Theatre, Rutland, VT (Live) (2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 02:17:14 minutes | 2,74 GB | Genre: Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Hot Tuna Ltd.
Under the steady glow of the lights on a spartan stage, aka acoustic Hot Tuna, made it look easy on April 4th at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland Vermont. Yet during the course of the two roughly one-hour sets comprising this appearance near the end of their brief spring tour, the former guitarist and bassist for Jefferson Airplane illustrated how a duo setting is ideal to illustrate not just how difficult it is to play music well, but also how difficult it is to play music well with others.
To achieve such expertise doesn’t necessarily take over fifty years of friendship and music the likes of which this pair draws upon, but it helps immeasurably to generate the level of nuance rendered in numbers like “Been So Long” and “Come Back Baby.” How else can Casady so accurately (and intuitively) inject bass notes into the spaces between those of the guitar, especially when Kaukonen so precisely picks them? Apart from the jocular introduction Kaukonen offered via an aside from Casady, “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” was notable for that dynamic, but even more so as one of the numbers offered in the homestretch of this concert during which these two musicians transcended the songs, elevating their performance(s) into pure music.
The middle section of “Good Shepherd,” from JA’s Volunteers album, was Anan equally vivid instance of this sublime phenomenon. Without the slightest glance at each other, Kaukonen and Casady deconstructed the melody and rhythm of this traditional gospel tune, then reassembled it via their respective instruments and, in so doing, the progression to which they returned (which also functions as an intro to their arrangement) carried an even greater sense of closure. The encore of “Water Song” evolved much the same way: these two well-schooled musicians wove together finely detailed flourishes with their respective instruments, alternately delicate and demonstrative.
As a result, this cull from the Burgers album more than sufficed as the sole instrumental of the night. Additional material sans vocals no doubt would’ve imparted a much different air to the presentation, but not substantially improved it, that is, unless the substitutions came in place of Kaukonen originals like “River of Time;” such ruminations on mortality aren’t just pedestrian lyrically, but also no match for the distinctive song contours and provocative wordplay of “Sleep Song” or “Bar Room Crystal Ball.” Still, the judicious placement of such material as “Waiting For A Train,” from Kaukonen’s 2002 solo effort Blue Country Heart, not only freshened a setlist dominated by blues, but pointed up the extent to which these two musicians do not know their material by heart.
Not surprisingly, the deceptively disarming sense of humor in such songs as “Barbecue King” resembles that which these men display. It also offsets the profound yearning at the core of the compositions and compensates for how similar “Hesitation Blues” sounds compared to “Winin’ Boy Blues.” But rather than represent a paucity of ideas, that commonality is the continuity of style, a virtue further distinguished by the warmth and resonance of Casady’s angular notes on his big hollow body bass and the relaxed approach Kaukonen took to his rhythm guitar work and his solos. Understated panache like these men exhibit comes only through experience and a corresponding confidence in their ability, not the least of which is the intimate knowledge of their instruments.
So, on this cold early spring evening, the easy laughter of the two between so many selections-not just the indirect commentary on the obstreperous attendee removed by the police-lulled a near-capacity crowd into a comfort zone where a palpable measure of respect balanced a tendency to rowdiness (and somewhat clumsy timekeeping via hand-claps). As a result, this Hot Tuna show transcended the routinely delightful nature of their concerts, acoustic or electric: not only did the music play the musicians, but the musicians spoke both to and for their audience, a two-way communication roundly acknowledged by both parties by the time it was over.
01. True Religion – Set 1
02. Hesitation Blues – Set 1
03. Been so Long – Set 1
04. Search My Heart – Set 1
05. River of Time – Set 1
06. Barbeque King – Set 1
07. I Am the Light of This World – Set 1
08. San Francisco Bay Blues – Set 1
09. Brother Can You Spare a Dime? – Set 1
10. Sleep Song – Set 1
11. Watch the North Wind Rise – Set 1
12. Winin’ Boy Blues – Set 1
13. Trouble in Mind – Set 1
14. Ain’t in No Hurry – Set 2
15. Second Chances – Set 2
16. Wolves and Lambs – Set 2
17. Let Us Get Together Right Down Here – Set 2
18. Come Back Baby – Set 2
19. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and out – Set 2
20. Death Don’t Have No Mercy – Set 2
21. Sea Child – Set 2
22. Trial by Fire – Set 2
23. Good Shepherd – Set 2
24. Bar Room Crystal Ball – Set 2
25. Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning – Set 2
26. Water Song – Encore