Review of HOT TUNA’s – Jack Casady – 70th Birthday Bash at the Beacon Theater in NYC.

Hot Tuna/Beacon Theatre/December 13, 2014

Formed in 1969 as a spin-off from Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna is led by guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Cassady. The Beacon Theatre concert was billed as Cassady’s 70th birthday bash. The cast included Kaukonen and Cassady, vocalists Marty Balin and Teresa Williams, Williams’ husband, fiddler/guitarist Larry Campbell, guitarist G.E. Smith, mandolinist Barry Mitterhoff, and drummer Justin Guip. The evening started with Cassady alone, improvising on the bass. Kaukonen came on stage with an acoustic guitar and the duo segued into “Hesitation Blues.” Mitterhoff, Campbell, Smith, and Guip joined for the second song, the folk-rocking “I See The Light.” Williams lent a gospel bent with the third song, “Children Of Zion.” Balin came on stage and started an Airplane revival, leading on “3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds” and “Plastic Fantastic Lover.” Later, Williams sang lead on the Airplane’s “Somebody To Love” and “White Rabbit.” After intermission, Balin and his two musicians, guitarist Chuck Morrongiello and bassist Lloyd Goldstein, performed three low-key songs, then they were joined by the rest of the ensemble for a tribute song to the deceased Hot Tuna violinist “Papa” John Creach. The music stopped when what looked like Cassady’s signature bass guitar was wheeled out; it was a birthday cake. Appropriately, Williams sang the Grateful Dead’s “Sugaree.” Mitterhoff, Campbell and Smith sang lead on a few other songs as well. The concert ended four hours after it began with two encores, Balin leading a rocking version of the Airplane’s “Volunteers” and everyone singing on “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed And Burning.” The 27-song concert was packed with delightful surprises, so it was not a traditional Hot Tuna concert, but more like Jorma & Jack with friends. For the longtime fans in attendance, it was a joyous and unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime event.

By:  Everynight Charley Crespo for The Aquarian Weekly, January 21, 2015