Jorma Kaukonen:
Solo Flights

by John Lynskey

The cover story to HTN #57 is on Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, of Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane fame, who are celebrating 50 years of music, partnership and friendship. What follows are outtakes from the interviews that, due to space constraints, did not make the finished version of the story. Here, guitarist Jorma Kaukonen talks about his solo career and his approach to making records.

You know, Jack encouraged me to do Quah - he is really responsible for the way it was done, because I didn't have the confidence to say, "This is what I want to do." I knew I wanted to do something, but I wasn't sure what it was, and Jack helped me with that. He is listed as producer of Quah, and he did a great job encouraging me to keep it simple and just do what I do. I think it turned out the way we envisioned it, and I believe Quah has stood the test of time pretty well. That is the same approach I took when I was making Blue Country Heart or Stars in My Crown, although there is more instrumentation on those records than on Quah, and I believe that the music speaks for itself on all three of those records. For example; when I listen to people I like, including James Taylor, Lyle Lovett or any of those cool singer/songwriter guys who have been around for a very long period of time - it doesn't matter whether their album came out 30 years ago or just last week - the music is equally good. It is not because the music is evoking memories of my youth; it is because these artists make timeless music. What I'm getting at is that if I can get some of that "timeless quality" that those artists have into my own music, I'm really happy.

Jack Casady:
Jammin' with Jimi

by John Lynskey

In the second outtake from Issue #57's forthcoming cover piece, bassist Jack Casady relates how he came to play on Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile," from the album Electric Ladyland.

The deal went like this: we were on tour with Jefferson Airplane, and in August, 1968, we were in New York to play the Fillmore East. While we were in town, we also taped an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show. We were done taping by 8:00 that night, and then we went down to The Scene, Steve Paul's nightclub in midtown Manhattan. We went there to see Steve Winwood and Traffic, and Jimi was there. I had known Jimi and [drummer] Mitch Mitchell for several years, and we had jammed together before - Jimi and I enjoyed each other's company. He was working on Electric Ladyland, and he was producing it himself, as he had had an issue with [producer] Chas Chandler. This meant he was taking lots of time on it, and we knew all about that in the Airplane! (Laughs)

In any case, we saw Jimi and Mitch at the Traffic show, and we hung out, like you do. When the show was over, he invited everybody over to the studio. There was like 30 people crowded into the vocal booth, watching him work. Everyone in the booth was doing what you do in that situation, which had nothing to do with music! We were just hanging - big time.

Jimi worked all night, and then at about 7:30 in the morning, he said, "Hey - let's do a blues number." We got up there, and we did what would become "Voodoo Chile" as a slow blues. We got partway through it one time, and Jimi broke a string. He replaced it, and then we did the song in one take. Steve Winwood was on the B-3, and it was me, Jimi and Mitch Mitchell. At the time, no one figured that it was a song for the album - at least I didn't. It wasn't until a couple of months later that I found out it was going to be on the album, because I got a release form to sign in the mail.

In retrospect, Electric Ladyland is the best album that Jimi Hendrix ever made. When you listen to it very carefully, it is a wonderful concept album. Jimi was a very giving musician, and he was very easy to play with. "You wanna play some blues together? Great." Just like that - that's how easy it was. I mean, it was thrilling to do that, and believe me, we were all wide-eyed and bushy-tailed about it, but the song had a good groove and a good feeling, and it all come together in one take.

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