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Folk Heroes

Agosto 2006
Dalla California psichedelica alle radici del folk americano. Il percorso a ritroso di Jorma Kaukonen e Jack Casady, eredi storici dei Jefferson Airplane.

di Mark Worden

File audio:

Jefferson Airplane
Jefferson Airplane

Speaker: Mark Worden (Standard British accent)

Like Al Gore, Jorma Kaukonen has run unsuccessfully for the presidency of the United States. But whereas Gore has announced that he will not be seeking national office again, Kaukonen plans to run in 2008. He admits that his presidential campaigns are a joke because his real job in life is as a musician. Along with Jack Casady he forms one half of the group Hot Tuna, whose acoustic guitar music is a celebration of the great American folk tradition. Kaukonen and Casady formed Hot Tuna after breaking away from the legendary band, Jefferson Airplane which, along with the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, dominated San Francisco’s flower power scene in the 1960s. Such is Kaukonen and Casady’s love of American music that they even teach it at the Fur Peach Guitar Camp in Ohio. When they met with Speak Up we asked them what was the appeal of the American folk tradition:

Jorma Kaukonen (Standard American accent):

That’s a really good question because I’m not quite sure what it is, but there is something that really touches my heart on a basic level, maybe it’s just feeling the history of the country and, even though some of that music was pop music at the time, the lyrics are very honest and... and it’s just really fun stuff to play, too: you know, even the sad songs are happy to play!


Although Hot Tuna play mainly in the United States, they love coming to Europe, as Jack Casady explains:

Jack Casady (Standard American accent):  

We’ve had really wonderful audiences both in France and Italy and we’re just tickled pink to be able to come here now at this part of our career and get the response that we’re getting. It’s terrific. I mean, they’re listeners, in both France and Italy, they really listen to your music, they’re polite, they’re informed about the music, they can tell about the interaction of the musicians, and they listen to that ‘cause they’re used to listening to jazz, and they’re used to listening to music where they use their mind as well as their body to respond to the music, so it is very gratifying.

immortal music

In conclusion we asked Jorma Kaukonen whether the psychedelic music they played with Jefferson Airplane also formed part of the American folk tradition:

Jorma Kaukonen:

I think it’s really part of the tradition and one of the things that I was talking to somebody about yesterday is John Hartford, who was, you know, a great traditional American musician, before he died he played a show at our place, the Fur Peach Ranch in Ohio, and... and I’ve known him sort of casually over the years and one of the things I’ve always admired about him, even though he wrote hit songs, was that he remained really true to a really simplistic American style of music and I had told him that I admired that, his commitment to old-timey music. And what he said was: “Jorma, that stuff you played in the ‘60s, that’s going to be old-timey music.” And in a way it’s become that. You know, it’s... I mean, when we were playing, you know, psychedelic rock’n’roll in the ‘60s, I don’t think any of us, well, not me anyway, had any idea that it would actually become a genre of music that people would study and learn later on!

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after breaking away - dopo essersi separati.

the lyrics - le parole.     

we’re just tickled pink - siamo felicissimi.

they can tell - capiscono.

commitment - dedizione, impegno.

that stuff - quella roba.