Electric Hot Tuna Benefit for The Guild for Exceptional Children

Raccoon Lodge benefit at Grand Prospect Ballroom / Brooklyn, NY

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Photos by Arnie Goodman

The Grand Prospect Hall hosted an event whose success was virtually guaranteed: The day was close to perfect with the advent of spring weather, a perfect day, a venue which combined a sense of grandeur with the perfect size for housing an old style rock ‘n’ roll show, a benefit for a worthy charity and well-established stars beloved and deserving of all of the accolades achieved throughout their long and illustrious careers. A sense of magic and anticipation was palpable as the Electric Hot Tuna trio of Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady & Justin Guip made its way to the stage.

For more than four decades, Hot Tuna has played some of the best acoustic and electric music ever. Jack and Jorma played together as teenagers, and when Jorma was invited to join a rock ‘n’ roll band, he brought Jack along to became members of the legendary Jefferson Airplane. The two have been together since, playing rock, blues, country and jazz—with a variety of other instruments from harmonica to fiddle to keyboard—that kept the Hot Tuna brand fresh and relevant. Justin Guip is a three-time Grammy Award winner, about whom Jorma and Jack said – “Justin Guip is a great drummer and percussionist. His Americana sensibilities are peerless! He’s got the chops, the groove, and most importantly-the heart to be called a HOT TUNA drummer.”

The first set began with Kaukonen’s “Been So Long,” which appeared in 1971 as a 45 single. That was followed immediately by Rev. Gary Davis’s “Candy Man,” the flip side of the record, and followed by Muddy Waters’s “I Can’t Be Satisfied.” The band continued in a two part set that kept the audience singing along for a total of 21 songs, including music of Blind Blake (“That’ll Never Happen No More”), Bobby Rush (“Bowlegged Woman, Knock Kneed Man”), Jefferson Airplane (“Trial by Fire and Good Shepherd”) and B.B. King (“Rock Me Baby”). The second set began with a cover of the Mildred J Hill song “Happy Birthday” in honor of Jack, who turned 73 on April 13th.

This event, in an age dedicated to youth, proved that the merits of age and experience combined with talent and enthusiasm can create a magical evening.

—Stanley Abraham

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