First Appeared at The Music Box, April 2001, Volume 8, #4
Written by John Metzger
Hot Tuna's latest video Acoustic Blues is an amalgamation of footage recorded in 1992 at the intimate Sweetwater in Mill Valley, CA. The heart of the DVD package is an hour long documentary titled 25 Years and Runnin', which intersperses band interviews with performance footage. Ironically, this is the weakest part of the program. For the most part, Hot Tuna's performance is stiff and unusually tempered, and the Q&A portion provides little additional insight into the formation and inner workings of the group. Even a guest appearance by the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir fails to lift a cover of Bob Dylan's Maggie's Farm, leaving only a rendition of Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues to break the ensemble free from its perfunctory stoicism.
That said, the bonus material contained on the Acoustic Blues DVD is most certainly worth the attention of Hot Tuna fans as well as the uninitiated. A 40-minute audio program finds the band in fine form, delivering pristine renditions of Too Many Years, Been So Long, and Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning.
The highlight, however, is by far the extra 45 minutes of video footage tacked on to the end of the 25 Years and Runnin' program. Why this was cut from the original package is anyone's guess as it showcases Hot Tuna at its absolute best. The group is joined by Bob Weir for inspired versions of Walkin' Blues and Good Morning Little Schoolgirl. Later, the band takes flight during the expanded jams of Ice Age, Good Shepherd, and Parchment Farm. Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bass player Jack Casady truly have a psychic connection, and their interplay propels the ensemble forward with free-flowing abandon. It's here that Hot Tuna's fans will find the heart of the group that they love, while others will be able to catch a glimpse of the light.
Acoustic Blues is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box