SXSW Live Shot: Jorma Kaukonen

Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna guitarist still has fiery hands

Rev. Gary Davis’ “I Am the Light of This World” contains the line, “Well we got fiery fingers, Lord, and we got fiery hands.” Even though he’s reached the advanced age of 74, Jorma Kaukonen sang those words Tuesday night at Lucky Lounge with the curl of a smile on his lips. Perhaps he was referring to himself.

Somebody to Love: Jorma Kaukonen last night in Texas, 3.17.15 (Photo by Todd V. Wolfson)

The large, tie-dyed Deadhead/Hot Tuna tribe that gathered for this set remained remarkably attentive given a venue that wasn’t optimal for a solo acoustic show. The onetime Jefferson Airplane guitarist rewarded them with tunes from his savory new disc Ain’t In No Hurry, including the surefooted yet lean title track, and Prohibition-era lament “Nobody Knows You When Your Down and Out.”

Another Davis tune, this one identified with Hot Tuna, “Hesitation Blues,” contained a couple of contemporary twists that made the song nearly new 40 years after it first appeared on vinyl. Referring to his absent accompanist of a half-century, Airplane and Hot Tuna bandmate Jack Casady, he explained with a touch of sorrow, “Too bad Jack’s in New York City of all places tonight.”

For his part, Kaukonen appeared more than happy to be in Texas as he acknowledged before paying tribute to Lightnin’ Hopkins with a rendition of the Lone Star bluesman’s “Come Back Baby.” As it did though out, Kaukonen’s guitar drone grounded the blues in sublime hypnotism.

Complete SXSW Music coverage at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Tanya Tagaq Owns Fusebox Music
Tanya Tagaq Owns Fusebox Music
Inuit throat singer reanimates Nanook of the North

Raoul Hernandez, April 3, 2015

Playback: Upholding the Code
Playback: Upholding the Code
Keeping SXSW safe selectively?

Kevin Curtin, April 3, 2015

More by Jim Caligiuri
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Her father's death and daughter's birth upped the stakes of the singer's finest work

April 14, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Soft Boys, Youngbloods, Moby Grape, Brian Jones’ grandson, etc.

March 18, 2017


Jorma Kaukonen, SXSW Music 2015, Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, Jack Casady, Rev. Gary Davis, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Grateful Dead

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle