By MIKE CHAIKEN
“Ain’t in No Hurry,” the new album by Jorma Kaukonen, seems to have a thematic thread running through it that pulls the tracks together.
Whether it’s the Hot Tuna guitarist’s original tracks such as “The Other Side of the Mountain” or his covers of such musical chestnuts “Brother Can You Spare A Dime” or “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down Out,” the song choices seem to be saying something about the state of the world today.
However, Jorma, calling from the road on his way to Dallas, Texas, said if there’s a theme to the tracks, that was not what he intended.
“I really wish I could claim some intellectual unity,” said Jorma of the song selection for his new solo album, which he promoted in shows at the Infinity Hall in Hartford on Friday, March 13 and at Stage One in Fairfield on Saturday, March 14.
Jorma said he can understand why it may seem to the listener as if there is a unifying idea behind the song selection. The two cover songs, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and “Brother Can you Spare a Dime” loom large on the album, he said, and seem to pull a theme together from the other tracks.
Both songs have long been familiar to Jorma. He has performed “Nobody…” in a live setting. Although it has never been recorded, either as a solo track or with Hot Tuna.
Jorma has recorded “Brother…” before. But given the current state of the economic malaise in America, Jorma said the track seemed befitting for this moment in history. “It’s a timeless subject.”
The album’s title track fits right in with those two other chestnuts. “Ain’t In No Hurry” was written by a contemporary of Jorma, Jim Eagen (who actually cites on his website that Jorma is an influence).
Jorma said his wife heard Eagen’s “Ain’t In No Hurry.” She told Jorma, “That’s a great song, you got to do this song.”
And he reached out to Eagen, who couldn’t believe that Jorma wanted to to do it.
“I loved the subject matter,” said Jorma. “It sums up the way I think.” He also said he liked the stark simplicity to the music.
As for why he thought the track worked as the title of the album, thereby setting the stage for the listeners as to what would follow on the rest of the record, Jorma said, “I like the song… and it summed up the last year.” Jorma said when you’re young, you want all of these things, and you want them now. But when you’re older, he siad, you prefer not to push and would rather just take it easy. You’re just not in any hurry, he explained.
Jorma has every right to take it easy.
He has had a long storied musical career that reaches back to the 1960s, when he eventually found his way into the seminal psychedelic group the Jefferson Airplane before departing and beginning an outstanding second act with bassist Jack Casady as Hot Tuna.
After all this time in music, Jorma was asked what he thought the young Jorma, just picking up an instrument would think of having such a long career?
“I’d like to think he’d think it was pretty cool,” said Jorma. At 15, 16, you’re not really thinking about music as a career, said Jorma. You’re not really thinking of a career, he said.
But after all of this time, said Jorma, he couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
For more information about Jorma Kaukonen, visit jormakaukonen.com/
By MIKE CHAIKEN