Jorma Kaukonen - vocals, acoustic guitar, dobro; Jack Casady - bass
Hot Tuna started in late 1969 as an off-shoot project by two members of the Jefferson Airplane, guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady. The duo, who had grown up as friends in Washington, D.C. and moved west to San Francisco in the mid 1960s, had been playing together since they were members of a teen rock band called the Triumphs.
Hot Tuna began as a series of coffee-house gigs while the Jefferson Airplane were very much at the top of their game, touring all over the world with hit albums such as Volunteers and Bless Its Little Pointed Head. Jack and Jorma had to schedule their shows around Airplane performances, and initially focused on acoustic jams of old, forgotten blues songs.
Legend has it that the two initially wanted to project to be called Hot Shit, but their label nixed the idea. Regardless, Hot Tuna eventually grew into a five piece electric ensemble and released five successful albums on RCA Records. For several years in the 1970s, Jefferson Airplane/Starship and Hot Tuna often shared members, including drummer Johnny Barbata, violinist Papa John Creach and vocalist Marty Balin.
Hot Tuna dissolved in 1979, with Kaukonen beginning to pursue a solo career and Casady regrouping with Airplane members Paul Kantner and Marty Balin in the KCB Band. By 1986, however, the original duo of Kaukonen and Casady reformed Hot Tuna and started playing small gigs around the Bay Area. This show is the first of two sets played in a marathon Fillmore West show on December 30th, 1988.
The first set contains many Tuna standards, including "Hesitation Blues," "99 Year Blues," "Candy Man" and Mose Allison's "Parchman Farm." Kaukonen dips back into the Airplane catalog as well, performing "Embryonic Journey," which originally appeared on the Surrealistic Pillow album.