Hot Tuna rocked the Keswick in Glenside, PA during the first of two electric shows on their current tour. Playing to sold out houses nation-wide, Hot Tuna currently consists of Jorma Kaukonen on guitar, Jack Casady on bass, Barry Mitterhoff on mandolin, and Skoota Warner on drums. They were joined by former SNL musical director GE Smith, his signature Telecaster and Gibson solid body in tow. The result: a fresh, full-throttle show in an intimate setting that satisfied long-time fans as well as some who were just discovering the band for the first time.
Vanguards of the American music scene, Kaukonen and Casady have been making playing together for over five decades. As one of the most highly-respected practitioners of fingerstyle guitar, the former has shaped many American musical genres and is still at the forefront of American roots music, blues and rock and roll. At the Keswick, he alternated between his electrified acoustic for his more recent work and Gibson solid body for more classic Hot Tuna favorites.
As much of an American original as Kaukonen, Casady’s bass style is driving and fresh, at turns melodic, fluid, and organic while pounding out an aggressive bass solo in “Funky #7,” a song that’s been consistently pleasing Tuna fans since its release in 1975.
Over two hours of music in two sets, the band entranced the audience with classics like “Corners Without Exits” and closed the night with ‘Water Song’ as well as solo material from Kaukonen, Casady and GE Smith. The performance was pure virtuosity in an acoustically-perfect venue with master musicians who are committed to making incredible music. In the age of over-sampling, clever references in music and bands that come and go over night, Hot Tuna are having none of that. True to the heritage of the blues, their musicianship and heart create an old school sound that holds up. The guys were just there to make music and are clearly here to stay.