CATCHING THE ELECTRIC HOT TUNA

Hot Tuna :: 07.17.05 :: House of Blues :: Atlantic City, NJ


Jorma Kaukonen with Hot Tuna
07.17.05 :: HOB, NJ
On July 17th, 2005, Hot Tuna headlined a smokin' show with opening acts Railroad Earth and The Radiators at the new House of Blues located in the Showboat Casino on the boardwalk, in Atlantic City. The HOB's beautiful and detailed blues theme d├ęcor with its prime reserved-seating balcony overlooking the general admission floor and stage didn't compensate for the lack of organization the venue displayed. As fans waited with the patience of saints, the doors finally opened at 7:15 p.m. instead of the scheduled 6 p.m. Making it even easier to get into this joint, the box office is located far away from the place of entry - down an escalator, around the corner, on the backside of a hotel restaurant, and is not clearly visible. Even with a photo pass I was hounded by security inside about my equipment while compact digital cameras and picture phones were flashing all around me. Overhearing some fans talking about the expensive drink prices, the wait to get in, and the HOB's overall pretentious presence made me wonder if this is too much of a compromise to enjoy more great music at the Jersey Shore. Thankfully, once the music started, the talent and good nature of the bands helped us all overcome the venue issues, making it an enjoyable night.


Jack Casady with Hot Tuna
07.17.05 :: HOB, NJ
One would think that this impressive line-up was a ploy to launch the new venue. Who cares how it happened; fans definitely got their money's worth. Both openers drew a wave of different fans toward the stage, calling out favorite tunes to play at the beginning of each set. Railroad Earth, emerging into the roots rock scene in 2001 with vocal and acoustic guitar front man Todd Sheaffer (formerly of the band From Good Homes), started off the night with an impressive upbeat bluegrass set that kept the crowd on their feet. This band is definitely not lacking in talent and is enjoyable to watch as members playfully passed the solo spotlight between them.

Next, The Radiators delivered a mean New Orleans style funky rockin' blues set amusing fans with their skill and ability to jam. A raunched-up guitar-saturated cover of "Sittin' on Top of the World," usually in the Hot Tuna songbook, started their set. Going strong since 1978, when they formed the band after a casual five-hour jam session in keyboardist Ed Volker's garage, The Radiators continue to build their following nationally through their tours and as well as at huge festivals like New Orleans' own Jazz Fest. Their music naturally emulates a good time, and the fans had exactly that.


Hot Tuna :: 07.17.05 :: HOB, NJ
On some occasions in more subdued settings, they tour as Acoustic. Tonight in Atlantic City they plugged in as Electric Hot Tuna! Bringing out many favorites to satisfy fans, such as "99 Year Blues" and "Funky #7," Hot Tuna, as always, put on a kick-ass show leaving fans with full bellies. The camaraderie between band mates shined through their music as members cordially gave each other space to grow within the set. This was especially visible between Jorma Kaukonen on lead guitar and vocals and Jack Casady on bass. They've known each other since they were kids and have played together for over 45 years.


Kaukonen & Mitterhoff :: Hot Tuna
07.17.05 :: HOB, NJ
It's amazing that through various bands, like The Triumphs, back in their high school days, and the world renowned sixties band Jefferson Airplane, all the way through the different phases of "Tuna" as well as their solo projects, these two genius musicians have remained friends and still enjoy playing together. The two other current members of Hot Tuna, technically proficient mandolinist Barry Mitterhoff and equally skilled drummer Erik Diaz, are definitely due their ovations. More importantly, the band played a fun rockin' show intermingling hardcore technical solos between their usual collective improvisations. Smiles and subtle verbal exchanges between band members on stage kept with Hot Tuna's informal performance style - sharing their personalities with fans, and giving each of their shows a sense of "family." They even go so far as to promote their merchandise, including t-shirts, hats, and different blends of tea during the show in a short friendly comical routine combining banter and musical riffs to keep it interesting.

Jorma and Jack seem to be "on" night after night, and once again treated their fans to a special show. This excellent billing of three bands that share a love of improvisation and know their roots couldn't have been planned better. It would have been nice to see a little cross-pollination of band members, but this show left many satisfied. However, we all know the best show is the next one.

SETLISTS:

Railroad Earth
Lordy Lordy, Old Dangerfield, Head, Long Way To Go
Encore: Little Rabbit

The Radiators
Sittin' On Top Of The World, Suck The Head, Corrina, Number Two Pencil, Devil's Dream, Death Of The Blues, Last Getaway, Seven Devils, Go Down Hannah, Rosie

Hot Tuna
Living Just For You, True Religion, I Can't Be Satisfied, I Wish You Would, Been So Long, Trial By Fire, Talking 'Bout You, Rock Me Baby, Corners Without Exits, 99 Year Blues, Bowlegged Woman, Come Back Baby, In The Kingdom, Hit Single #1, Serpent Of Dreams, Funky #7
Encore: Baby What You Want Me To Do

Words & Images by: Kim Panzitta
JamBase | Jersey
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[Published on: 8/5/05]

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