Archive for October, 2012

in performance: huey lewis and the news

huey lewis

“What a great place for music,” Huey Lewis said Oct. 19 at the Norton Center for the Arts’ Newlin Hall in Danville. “Makes you wonder why anyone would waste it on two people talking.”

The crack, of course, alluded to last week’s vice presidential debate, which took place on the very same stage. But there was none of what Joe Biden so fervently tagged as “malarkey” this time out. Instead, Lewis, 62, fronted an 11 member version of his West Coast rock and soul troupe The News, and he chose pop over politics. The 90-minute set relied on an immensely fun repertoire that balanced the singer’s plentiful ’80s-era hits with covers of R&B classics, a dash of doo-wop and a performance attitude that never let slip its sense of good cheer.

Opening, as did Lewis mid-’80s shows at Rupp Arena, with The Heart of Rock and Roll, the evening presented The News as less of a conventional rock troupe and more as an orchestral backdrop for a pop-soul revue. Rhythmically, the band’s groove was airtight, from the crisp charge of a three-man horn section (which grew to a quartet when co-founding News-man Johnny Colla switched from guitar to tenor sax) to the vocal drive of singers Daunielle Hill and Sandy Griffith.

Lewis, unsurprisingly, was the focal point. He proved an amiable, fast-on-his-feet frontman. His vocals – possessing both a learned sense of pop phrasing and durable R&B huskiness – fueled a variety of material, from the well-weathered hit Heart and Soul to a celebratory update of Solomon Burke’s Got to Get You Off of My Mind to less expected News fare – in particular, the Steely Dan-ish Small World.

But the singer also knew when to cool it. In covering The Staples Singers’ gospel-soul gem Respect Yourself, he wisely limited his vocal lead to the conversational introductory verse popularized by Pops Staples. The heavy testifying was left to Hill and Griffith, who pretty much pitched a tent revival with the tune.

The often orchestral sound that grew out of all this was continually engaging. But one of the show’s brightest spots came when Lewis and the core News lineup, sans the brass and singers, went it alone on their hit 1987 version of Bruce Hornsby’s Jacob’s Ladder. Built around a basic groove established on blues harp (courtesy of Lewis) and hi-hat (from longstanding News drummer Bill Gibson), the tune encapsulated, as did so much of the evening, a level of pop gusto that hasn’t dimmed with the decades.

still news worthy

huey lewis and the news: huey lewis, john pierce, seah hopper, johnny colla, bill gibson and stef burns. photo by marina chavez.

It’s an inevitable question, really. How can a band like Huey Lewis and The News maintain a creative drive and freshness in a pop age where its decades old hits can’t help but be viewed as old news?

“To be honest, we’re having a better time now than we ever have,” said Lewis, 62, who will lead a rock and soul revue-style version of The News into Danville’s Norton Center for the Arts tonight for its first Central Kentucky performance in over 25 years.

“We used to be this kind of beer and hot dog band. Now we’re hanging with the wine and cheese set. And I like that. We’re playing to audiences that are really appreciative and knowledge about who we are. The whole thing gets a little better treatment now than it did when it was just the rock ‘n’ roll crowd that came to see us.”

For the bulk of the 1980s, Lewis and his no frills News-mates were an unstoppable pop force. Hit after hit – all possessing robust melodic hooks, a generous dose of pop-soul smarts and Lewis’ ultra-amiable vocal cheer – ruled the airwaves. The Heart of Rock and Roll, I Want a New Drug, Heart and Soul (initially recorded by Kentucky’s own Exile), The Power of Love and more were all paraded on the charts with next to no elbow room separating them.

“It was an odd scene,” Lewis said of his ‘80s heyday. “For some reason, I felt I knew just what the people wanted, and that wasn’t just with our own stuff. If you gave me a copy of someone else’s album and played me the songs, I could pick out the single. I was absolutely immersed in all of it. It was all I was doing – listening to the radio, listening to and playing music and producing our records.

“For a pop songwriter, the audience has to be involved. We’re not writing jazz here.

So if you don’t have an audience, it kind of diminishes the whole thing. But in those days, I felt this music was very relevant. I felt like I knew what the American public was feeling somehow. I really did. So when Heart and Soul became our first real hit, I thought to myself, ‘Wow.’ I even told the guys, ‘If that one’s a hit, then we’ve a got a few more coming here. This is going to be silly.’”

Lewis’ ride pop to stardom also made expert use of a then-new promotional tool known as the music video. Helping the News’ third album, 1983’s Sports, chalk up four huge hits and sales of over 10 million copies was the rampant popularity of MTV and its means of broadcasting visual vignettes of pop singles around the clock.

“The video presence was kind of interesting,” Lewis said. “When we made our first record with Chrysalis (a self-titled 1980 album), we had done a video of our own for a couple of hundred dollars with a little video camera. And that got the attention of the record company. Then came Do You Believe in Love (from the second News album, 1982’s Picture This), which was our first single. That’s when the record company wanted to do a big time video. They had a big fashion director. All the backdrops were in pastel and we were in rouge. Our cheeks were all made up. We shot it all day and spent a whole bunch of money. Four days later, it was like, ‘Come watch the playback.’ And we did. They were probably 40 people in this room watching it. They had our staff, all the record label people and they played this thing. And it was cringe-worthy. It was the worst thing I had ever seen. And when it ended, the place erupted in applause.

“So the message was obvious. Anybody can do this. We’re producing these records ourselves. Why don’t we start doing the videos ourselves?”

The hits began to taper off in the 1990s, even though Lewis and the News (which still includes ‘80s mainstays Johnny Colla on guitar and saxophone, Bill Gibson on drums and Sean Hopper on keyboards) maintain regular touring duties with shows that balance their own hits with an array of R&B staples featured on its 2010 covers album Soulsville.

So how does Lewis today pump vigor and fun into hits that are unavoidably yesterday’s News?

“The number one rule is don’t play them 200 times a year. Shoot, don’t work 200 times a year. We do about 70 shows a year. So when we take two weeks off and come back to play again, it’s a gas. I love what I do. I just don’t want to do it too much.”

Huey Lewis and The News perform at 8 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Norton Center for the Arts Newlin Hall at Centre College, 600 West Walnut St. in Danville. Tickets are  $60, $75, $85. Call (877) 448-7469 or go to www.nortoncenter.com.

 

bonus tracks: mike cooley (more words from cooley)

mike cooley.

Here are a few extra remarks from our interview with Mike Cooley that didn’t make the final cut of our advance piece/post on Saturday’s Drive-By Truckers piece due to space.

+ Regarding a new Truckers album: I’m sure at some point, we will all want to go in and record together, even if we’re not thinking about an album. Once we do that, the ball will start rolling.

+ Regarding the possibility of hearing new songs at Saturday’s show: Well, I’m not planning on bringing anything new in (laughs). I don’t know if we’re going to have time to do that. We start in Memphis and then go Lexington the next day, so if anything new comes up, it will probably be closer to the end of the tour rather than the beginning.

+ Regarding songwriting inspirations: All of these songs have been written over a period of several years at different ages living in different places going through different experiences. So I’m not really looking for anything in particular. Every now and then there may be something that I think I may want to write about that I will carry around for a long time. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it never does. Mostly I just start playing something that sounds kind of good to me that inspires the humming of a melody and maybe a few words, and maybe I’ll figure out later where that’s actually going. Sometimes what you’re actually going to do with it reveals itself later in the process. Sometimes it’s may be a few years after you’ve written it and put it out that you go, ‘Oh yeah. That’s what’s I meant.’ That happens.

+ Regarding influences from  the South: You can’t really get away from it. Sometimes I think, ‘Man, it would be kind of nice to throw some other flavors in there.’ But that’s who we are. I can’t really he honest with myself and disregard that. That’s the most important thing about writing to me. It’s about being honest with yourself and being who you are. If being from the South happens to be it, then good luck changing.

+ Regarding mainstream commercial success: Sometimes your more loyal fans can feel marginalized by all the new success and it turns them off. And usually, once the big, sudden wave moves on to the next thing, the loyals never wind up coming back. As much as I would love to have the big mansion and the swimming pool of money… actually, I don’t really want those things… but the big hit single can be the kiss of death, for all the beautiful things it brings for awhile.

+ Regarding the working relationship with Patterson Hood: It comes totally naturally. That’s why we’ve kept playing together. It’s been that way from the very beginning. We’ve gotten better at it. You know, we didn’t meet until we were around 20 years old. But for all practical purposes, we grew up together. I mean, most everybody is still pretty damned immature at 20 years old. If you aren’t, you’re probably not normal. Musically and artistically, we were very green, so we totally grew up together in that respect.

words from cooley

drive-by truckers: brad morgan, patterson hood, john neff, jay gonzalez and mike cooley. photo by andy tennille.

This was supposed to be the year everyone took off, a period of artistic and personal refueling after years – shoot, after nearly a full career – of non-stop touring and recording. But you just can’t keep Drive-By Truckers off the road for long.

Thus, the celebrated Southern ensemble – famous for songs of dark rural narratives, a sound grounded in roots-driven rock and soul and a truly inexhaustible fanbase – returns this weekend to Lexington, one of only a handful of cities it will be playing during a brief fall tour.

Thus, the celebrated Southern ensemble – famous for songs of dark rural narratives, a sound grounded in roots-driven rock and soul and a truly inexhaustible fanbase – returns this weekend to Lexington, one of only a handful of cities it will be playing during a brief fall tour.

There is no new album to promote, no special agenda to address. Instead, the evening will be devoted to songs pulled from a 13 album catalog recorded over the last 14 years. No wonder a break was called for.

“We put out album after album after album,” said Truckers co-guitarist and co-founder Mike Cooley by phone last weekend. “And of course, the more you release records, the more you tour. So it was just time to let it all take a rest. You want to give your audience a rest after awhile, too. You can start overexposing yourself to them. There’s a chance they might start losing interest, and you definitely don’t want that to happen.

“For awhile, I was really getting burned out, too. This was about two years ago. It got to the point where I was going, ‘Man, am I going to keep doing this?’ And if not, then what?’ I was actually asking myself those kinds of questions. But we put the brakes on and now I’m excited to go back out and start playing again.”

While the Truckers’ touring schedule has always been rigorous, it went into overdrive with the rapidly successive releases of its last two albums, 2010’s The Big To-Do and 2011’s Go-Go Boots. The upside? The mammoth touring schedule culminated – locally, at least – with a riotous, weekend-long engagement at Buster’s in April 2011. The downside? By the end of the tour, the band was whipped. Underscoring the aftermath was the departure of Shonna Tucker, the Truckers’ bassist of eight years and – along with Cooley and Patterson Hood – one of its three vocalists and lyricists.

When asked if the split was amicable, Cooley replied, “Not especially. I’ve got to be honest about that. Hopefully, at some point, it will all be okay.”

For now, Matt Patton, from the Tuscaloosa, Ala. rock troupe The Dexateens, will handle bass duties in a Truckers line-up that includes, along with Hood and Cooley, drummer Brad Morgan, keyboardist Jay Gonzalez and guitarist/pedal steel guitarist John Neff.

So what goes into a supposed “year off” for the Truckers? For Cooley, the break offered an opportunity to make music on his own. He began performing the massive library of songs he has co-penned for the Truckers (which has included such fan favorites as Zip City, Carl Perkins’ Cadillac and 3 Dimes Down) in solo acoustic concerts.

“I rework a lot of the songs and try to find ways to make them interesting with just vocals and guitar, and that’s been a lot of fun. I’ve put a lot of time into doing that. You’re just mainly trying to figure out things like, ‘OK, there is usually a guitar solo here. Now what do I do?’ But you come up with different ways of doing things, so I’m enjoying that. We’ve recorded a few shows and are working on trying to get a live solo album together. It’s some pretty cool stuff.

“It’s a little more nerve wracking when you go out there by yourself, sit down and have it all fall on you. But that’s good for me. I kind of took that as a challenge. I’ve made it my goal to get over that and become at least as at ease going onstage alone as I am with the band.”

Hood also took to the road this fall (with Morgan and Gonzalez in tow) to promote his third solo record, Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance. In fact, Cooley conducted our interview by phone from an Atlanta airport, where he was waiting on the three to arrive. They were to then “jump in a van,” drive Southward to Albany, Ga, and join Neff and Patton for a Truckers concert that night.

That’s the band’s idea of a hiatus.

“We just have to keep things fresh for ourselves and for our audience, which remains very, very loyal. I’m constantly amazed at how loyal some of these core fans are. And a lot of that has to do with knowing when to take time off.”

Drive-By Truckers perform at 9 p.m. Oct. 20 at Buster’s Billiards and Backroom, 899 Manchester St. Tickets are $25 advance, $28 day-of-show. Call (859) 368-8871 or go to www.bustersbb.com.

honest words

Looking for something a little different on what looks to be a lovely fall evening? May we suggest a stop Thursday at the Morris Book Shop, 882 East High in Chevy Chase? That’s where and when Jason Howard will be promoting  A Few Honest Words: The Kentucky Roots of Popular Music.

Howard is a co-author of Something’s Rising: Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal, and his new book presents interviews with home state heroes, including Dwight Yoakam, Joan Osborne and other notables, and with local and regional artists to detail Kentucky’s musical heritage and its link to an evolving American soundscape.

No less a luminary than Grammy-winning country singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell penned the foreword.

And what would a celebration of a book about prized Kentucky music be without some prized Kentucky music? Add to the evening, then, some tunes from folk-and-more favorite Daniel Martin Moore.

The fun starts at 6:30 p.m. Call (859) 276-0494 or go to Morrisbookshop.com.

critic’s pick 250

Spend about 10 minutes tuned to your favorite country radio station, and you might wind up wondering how today’s pop-centric stars would have any connection at all to a Nashville giant like Hank Cochran. Enter Jamey Johnson, the Alabama outlaw singer with the slow-smoked voice that recalls vintage Waylon Jennings. Turns out the guy has a traditionalist streak a couple of country miles wide.

On what is only his fourth major label album, Johnson performs 16 classic Cochran songs with help from a stable of 14 country-and-then-some stylists. Most of them are fairly out-of-step with the Nashville mainstream. But once Johnson and Alison Krauss open Living for a Song with an elegant, unassuming reading of Make the World Go Away, the gates to another country age swing wide open. The steadfast harmonies are effortless while the shimmering backdrop of piano, guitar and pedal steel create a mood that is immediately enchanting.

Think that’s cool? Up next is the iconic I Fall to Pieces, a tune that might seem forever linked to Patsy Cline and the majestic, career-defining version she forged into a hit in 1960. Johnson doesn’t even try to recreate the Cline temperament. Instead, he saddles up with the ageless Merle Haggard and injects the song with the mischievous attitude of a barroom meditation.

Living for a Song also calls upon artists who were protégés of sorts to Cochran. Ray Price (who originally recorded Make the World Go Away in the ‘60s along with a separate hit version by Eddy Arnold) sounds like a million bucks on a version of You Wouldn’t Know Love that grows from a quiet acoustic glow initiated by Johnson into an epic orchestral sweep.

Similarly, Willie Nelson co-pilots Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me, which Price hit big with in 1966 (the two singers have cut a duet version, as well). With Johnson, the tune simmers over a lean arrangement of country regret colored by Nelson’s Django Reinhardt-style guitar scramble and the longing echoes of Mickey Raphael’s harmonica accents.

We could go on. Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, George Strait and Lee Ann Womack – all of whom have cut Cochran songs over the years – sound splendid. But perhaps the biggest delight is Johnson’s solo version of Would These Arms Be in Your Way, a tune recorded previously by the late Kentucky country star Keith Whitley. No modern country-pop bells and whistles are sounding here, just a stoic, string-savvy setting that beautifully allows a present day country thrillseeker to echo the inspirations of a true pioneer.

the doctor is in

dr.george clinton

Among the performance nom de plumes George Clinton assumed back in the late ’70s, when his Parliament-Funkadelic collective was offering a neo-psychedelic groove alternative to a then full-blown disco movement (and chalking up five-digit attendance figures at area concerts, including a 1977 date at Rupp Arena) was Dr. Funkenstein.

The character was a space-suited, Afro-centric and fully empowered performance creation. It also was the commercial summit of a wildly progressive R&B career that had begun creating a fan base more than a decade earlier.

But here’s the wild part. With his return to Lexington tonight in a concert at Buster’s, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Clinton, 71, will truly be Dr. Funkenstein. Well, not exactly in name. The costuming (most of it, anyway) and theatrics will be replaced by a more streamlined merger of the rugged funk and soul that Clinton has pioneered with Parliament and the more guitar-fortfied psychedelia he simultaneously piloted with Funkadelic. But having received an honorary doctorate in February from the prestigious Berklee College of Music, the artist stepping onstage at Buster’s this weekend can be addressed in more official terms. OK, maybe he isn’t really Dr. Funkenstein on paper. But he is now and forever, Dr. Clinton.

Will that figure prominently into what Clinton will offer at tonight’s show? Perhaps not. Expect the performance to be the usual P-Funk party, from soul-savvy Parliament hits such as Flashlight to epic Funkadelic guitar workouts such as Maggot Brain and more. And it is likely to be loose in design, with a lengthy roster of artists that will expand and contract, allowing the music to indulge in everything from massive funk party pieces to extended groove jams.

In short, the doctor will be in tonight – very in. And he will be staying put for a while, too. It’s nothing for a Clinton concert to bleed past two or three hours in length, so plan on making a long night of it all.

George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic perform at 9 tonight at Buster’s Billiards and Backroom, 899 Manchester St. Tickets are $30. Call (859) 368-8871 or go to  Bustersbb.com

critic’s pick 249

That Mark Knopfler’s new double album, Privateering, is being issued in every global market except the United States would normally be a commercial death sentence. But this is an era when digital sales rule. The record’s overseas release means it is available through most online outlets at roughly the same price as if it had been released domestically.

Still, you have to admit that having Privateering unavailable in this country is a bit odd, especially with Knopfler opening a U.S. tour later this week with Bob Dylan. The reason? Knopfler’s Web site blames a “contractual dispute” that exists between the guitarist and Warner Bros., his label since the first album with Dire Straits was released in 1978. Universal is releasing the recording internationally.

Spelling out such an explanation is important, because Privateering is one of the most luscious-sounding albums of the fall, a two-disc set that frames pop and folk sagas in regal quiet while making an unexpected foray into the blues. Knopfler’s guitar work is beautifully understated, and his woozy vocals sound almost as sage-like as his storytelling.

Privateering isn’t a rock ’n’ roll album in any conventional sense, although it journeys frequently into the back alleys of the blues with Fabulous Thunderbirds chieftain Kim Wilson as co-pilot on harmonica. Don’t Forget Your Hat sets some earthy humor (“you don’t pay the piper; you don’t even pay the fuel”) against a healthy rural stomp, Hot or What struts with Dylan-esque wordplay (and delivery) over a meaty shuffle, and the best entry from the blues pack, Gator Blood, percolates with ample sass and vintage boogie propulsion.

But that’s just one side of Privateering. There also is a continuance of a Celtic streak that stretches through all of Knopfler’s post-Straits albums. His chief ally during these travels is the celebrated Scottish accordionist Phil Cunningham.

Haul Away leads this category with a dark sea story colored by fiddle, organ, forlorn whistle and Cunningham’s beautifully antique wheeze. Kingdom of Gold and the more Americanized Dream of the Drowned Submariner are equally wistful and emotive.

Does anything here sound like Dire Straits? Well, the trucking saga Corned Beef City (“it ain’t too pretty”) sure does with a loose, guitar-centric groove. But the showcase tune here is Seattle, a beautifully retiring meditation that places Knopfler’s cinematic blend of keyboards, pedal steel guitar and muted strings behind a love letter set under a Northwestern sky of almost enchanting gray (“we both love the rain’). Then the tune sails out on a low tide of longing guitar, the most familiar but private of Privateering’s confessional devices.

in performance: jorma kaukonen

jorma kaukonen.

It was Sunday night and Jorma Kaukonen was definitely feeling the spirit. Perhaps that’s why he initiated a two set performance at Natasha’s that ran merrily past the 2 ½ hour mark with a 40 year old Hot Tuna original called True Religion. It was a nimble, unassuming bit of testifying, to be sure. In fact, the guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee bequeathed most of the song’s solo sections to longtime mandolinist/sidekick Barry Mitterhoff. But the resulting feel – the jubilant but wary country-blues spiritualism that would be addressed later in the evening through songs from bluesmen like the Rev. Gary Davis, Lightning Hopkins and Leroy Carr – was pure Kaukonen.

Time was when a Kaukonen show would vary little from one by Hot Tuna, the longstanding blues unit the guitarist has led with fellow Jefferson Airplane alumnus Jack Casady. That was especially true when it came to repertoire. Last night’s outing shifted course, however.

Sure, there were Hot Tuna staples like Hesitation Blues, How Long Blues and Death Don’t Have No Mercy. Kaukonen didn’t write any of them, of course. But given the very singular blues voice he has fortified the songs with over the years, not to mention the very assured versions offered last night, he might as well have. But this performance also mixed in tunes from three Kaukonen solo albums and a new Hot Tuna recording, all of which were released in the past decade and all of which featured Mitterhoff.

Highlights of the newer works included a revivalistic Children of Zion (another Davis gem), a lullaby-like Heart Temporary (with Mitterhoff on bouzouki) and the life cycle title tune to 2009’s River of Time.

While much of the material possessed a sense of rootsy affirmation, there was also a devilish side to the performance. The title tune to Kaukonen’s overlooked 1980 album Barbeque King was all earthy indulgence drenched in a bluesy dressing that matched the tune’s lyrical debauchery.

But atonement came by way of the encore – specifically, the 1967 Airplane classic Embryonic Journey, a fingerpicking original that concluded this immensely spirited and satisfying Sunday service with a slice of solace.

hesitating jorma

jorma kaukonen

Every time Jorma Kaukonen plays Hesitation Blues, a bit of history unfolds.

The legacy doesn’t exclusively involve the song, even though it has been recorded over the last 90 years or so by artists as varied as W.C. Handy, Duke Ellington, Janis Joplin and a performer whose music has long inspired Kaukonen, the great gospel bluesman known as the Rev. Gary Davis.

But Kaukonen’s own link to the song, as well as to similarly vintage blues works by Davis, Jelly Roll Morton, Leroy Carr and the like, has also become historic. From his days as a Washington, D.C. youth through his ongoing tenure with the Jefferson Airplane spinoff band Hot Tuna right up through his solo shows today, tunes like Hesitation Blues still endlessly fascinate the guitarist.

“And I don’t know why that is,” remarked Kaukonen, 71, who performs at Natasha’s on Sunday with longtime mandolinist/accompanist Barry Mitterhoff. “I don’t do songs that don’t stay fresh. A lot of songs… they’re just not me anymore. But the songs I’ve been doing for, like, half a century, like Hesitation Blues… for some reason, are just as much fun to play now as they ever were.

“Growing up in D.C., there really were no boundaries to what you heard. Some of the classics, like the Louvin Brothers’ I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby, were just popular songs that were on the radio. There was this feeling of longing in that music.

“With that in mind, I remember I used to do this song called Worried Man Blues. You know that one? ‘It takes a worried man to sing a worried song’ and ‘when I woke there were shackles on my feet?’ Well, my dad would hear me play this stuff and would go, ‘What do you know about being worried? What do you know about shackles?’ I wanted to say, ‘I’m a teenager, Dad. I know a lot about both of those things,’ but I wisely kept my mouth shut. But for some reason, that music just spoke to me. And as the years go by, it still speaks to me.”

Though introduced to the blues and the finger-picking styles that went with them by mentoring guitarist Ian Buchanan, something very electric happened when Kaukonen moved to California in 1962. In short, he discovered rock ‘n’ roll by way of an alliance that became Jefferson Airplane. At first, adjusting from playing Davis songs in folk clubs to a band that would be at the forefront of a pioneering Bay Area psychedelic sound was difficult.

“When I got into the Airplane, that transition became huge because I had never really played electric guitar before, even though I had owned one from time to time,” Kaukonen said. “I had certainly never played one in the way we have come to take for granted now with sustain and all that nonsense.

“The very nature of the music was totally different from anything that I was really familiar with. So I guess the good news was when I got introduced to rock ‘n’ roll by the Airplane, it was totally a blank page. I really got a chance to experiment and come up with a style of my own where, for better or worse – and I think over time it’s been for the better – I never really tried to sound like anybody else because I had never really listened to anybody else in that genre before.”

Kaukonen’s tenure in the Airplane, which disbanded in 1972, led to his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. These days, though, when not on the road, he teaches guitar and performs at the Fur Peace Ranch near Pomeroy, Ohio, which he owns and operates with wife Vanessa.

“My blessings are boundless,” Kaukonen said. “I am the luckiest man in the world for, among other things, the fact that I have pretty much been able to do what I love to do all of my life. You wonder how things work out that way.

“My major income is still from touring. The Fur Peace Ranch doesn’t cost us money anymore, but I’m not going to retire on that. Still, it has opened so many doors for me. So many great shows have come to play at our venue. And teaching has improved my personal playing more. I owe my students a huge debt of gratitude because I probably learn more from them than they would ever learn from me.

“I mean, I’m sitting here in Southeast Ohio. You’re calling from Kentucky, so you know I mean. It’s beautiful outside today. My house is paid for. I get to play guitar for a living. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Jorma Kaukonen performs with Barry Mitterhoff at 8 p.m. Oct. 7 at Natasha’s Bistro, 112 Esplanade. Tickets are $35 in advance and $42 day of show. Call (859) 259-2754 or go to www.beetnik.com

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