The Electric Sextet of Hot Tuna returned to The Egg, almost seven years to the date of the last Hot Tuna performance, an acoustic duo, on Dec. 11, 2007. Hundreds of old hippies and couples with more than a touch of grey, excitedly attended the performance; some enthusiastic enough to cheer loudly for Jorma Kaukonen and knew every song and dove head first into every jam alongside the band. Donna the Buffalo opened the night with a very powerful set, garnering chatter in The Egg’s lobby, with a new fan, Susan, remarking ‘Oh they’re so much fun!’ in her first time seeing them.
With Hot Tuna taking the to stage, the audience roared with approval, seeing Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen and a nearly 50 year relationship playing music together. Alongside them stood Larry Campbell on guitar and fiddle, Barry Mitterhoff on mandolin and Justin Guip on drums, an all-star lineup that welcomed Teresa Williams for part of the set. The alt-country of “Mama Let me Lay it on You” featured Campbell’s fiddling, “Ode to Billy Dean” brought out Tuna’s blues origins and “Can’t Get Satisfied” had a hint of Freddie King’s “Going Down” and was far from radio play, as much of the night’s songs would be; Hot Tuna is an overlooked predecessor to the early jambands that developed in the 1970s and ’80s. Jorma took a moment to respond to the continuous cries of “JORMA!” from an audience member, saying “That’s my name, don’t wear it out.”
A progressive jam build from “Been so Long” when Campbell took to the mandolin, which led to Teresa Williams coming to the stage for the first song of the night, the enthusiastic traveling country blues of “Children of Zion” and “Wade in the Water” which was full of energy and had Williams dancing all over in a circle.
Teresa later returned for “White Rabbit” with its foreboding bass line from Casady. Feed your head? Feed your ears with this wonderful voice that was on par with Grace Slick in her heyday. Jack strutted around the stage as “Mourning Interrupted” began and when the band found that one groove in the and stated into the jam, the clear highlight of the night was at hand. There was no ADD here, and not just because they’re too old for that $#!&. A cover of “Deep Ellum Blues” featured Williams and Campbell on vocals, a tune he sang frequently when he toured with Phil Lesh & Friends’ in 2006. “Sugaree” with Teresa featured solos from everyone, resulting in the longest song of the night. To cap the night, the band played the classic “Funky #7” which delved into psychedelic rock before moving into a prog jam, with big jamming to end it, alongside Teresa’s revival-level of energy. Let’s hope it doesn’t take seven years for Hot Tuna to play The Egg or Upstate New York in the future.
Setlist: True Religion, Mama let me lay it on you, Ode to Billy Dean, Can’t Get Satisfied, Been so Long, Children of Zion, Wade in the Water, Second Chances, White Rabbit, Mourning Interrupted, Deep Elum Blues, Bar Room Crystal Ball, Sugaree
Encore: Funky #7