MUSIC BOX: Tight lines for Tuna

By on February 12, 2013
Photo credit: Scotty Hall Photo cutline: Fresh, acoustic Hot Tuna Friday

Photo credit: Scotty Hall
Photo cutline: Fresh, acoustic Hot Tuna Friday

Originally a spin-off from Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna’s career dates back to early 1969 when Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members guitarist/vocalist Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy decidedly combined acoustic and electric sets to explore traditional blues and soul-rock compositions in respective sets. The group takes its name from a witty fan who shouted, “hot tuna!” after hearing the line “What’s that smell like fish, oh baby,” from the song “Keep On Truckin.” The incarnation we will get at the Pink Garter will be acoustic Hot Tuna, with mandolinist Barry Mitterhoff rounding out the trio.

Listening to a vinyl copy of Hot Tuna’s third studio album, Burgers (1972) – a house party favorite back in the day – and following that experience with their latest studio album and the first in over two decades, Steady as She Goes (2011), the production aesthetic is drastically different yet much of the fabric remains intact. Backseat acoustic meets heavy electric, representing the great divide that classic blues fans can appreciate. Within Hot Tuna, Kaukonen notably developed his fingerstyle picking, influenced heavily by Reverend Gary Davis, and exposing the roots of traditional blues to a wider audience.

“Airplane was only together for seven years, from ’65 to ’72,” Cassidy said during an interview last week with Mail Tribune. “The career Jorma and I share is significantly longer.”
Hot Tuna, 8 p.m., Friday, at the Pink Garter Theatre. Tickets are $35/advance or $40/day-of-show., 733-1500.

Sub-genre soul-funk
Black rock, otherwise known as psychedelic soul-funk, rarely sounds as authentic these days as it does coming from San Francisco-based Monophonics. In the company of label mates Orgone and Breakestra, the band has been riding a wave of momentum that has taken them from New Orleans’ Jazz Fest to Wakarusa and High Sierra among others.
Their 2012 release, In Your Brain, pays homage to Sly Stone, Norman Whitfield and George Clinton alongside homegrown tunes that touch on cinematic soul, heavy funk, 60s soul, even “spaghetti Western laced with yellow sunshine acid” (not included).
Monophonics, 9:30 p.m., Tuesday, at Town Square Tavern. $10. 733-3886.

Local talent gets centered
The annual Jackson Hole Showcase is an opportunity for the community to experience a cross section of local artistic talent. Modeled after the Ed Sullivan Show, host James Booth has maintained the formula of music-dance-comedy-theater, with a rotating cast ranging from the veteran to the up-and-comer.

This year’s show will feature: The Laff Staff, Riot Act, JH Community Theater, JH Brass Quintet, Jazz Foundation of JH Big Band (also performing a free show, 7 to 10 p.m., Saturday, in the Center lobby), opera vocalist Alison Kyle, Jason Fritts Trio with bassist/guitarist Chris Towles and drummer Chris Smith, bluegrass bands Wood Smoke Rising and PTO, classical/pop guitarist Byron Tomingas, Dancer’s workshop, and guitarist/vocalist Stackhouse, among others.
Jackson Hole Showcase, 7 p.m., Friday, at the Center Theater. General admission seats are $10/advance or $12/day-of-show, available at or 733-4900.

Jewish music fest
The Jackson Hole Jewish Music Festival (JHJMF), now in its fourth year, trims its traditional program to focus on two acts – world/pop/rock band Soulfarm and classical chamber ensemble Aviv String Quartet. The Fest also switches the venue – from the Snake River Lodge to the Center Theater.

4th Annual Jackson Hole Jewish Music Festival presents Soulfarm (5 p.m., Thursday) and Aviv String Quartet (5 p.m., Monday) at the Center Theatre. Both shows are $5/advance or $10/day-of-show. Purchase tickets at

Photo credit: Scotty Hall
Photo cutline: Fresh, acoustic Hot Tuna Friday

About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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