Jorma Kaukonen

Jorma Kaukonen

Blue Country Heart

Columbia

Jorma Kaukonen’s career has gone from longhaired flower child in the Jefferson Airplane to head boogieman in Hot Tuna to shorthaired flatpicker and music camp owner (Fur Peace Ranch in Ohio). All along he’s played the hell out of a guitar, and this time he does it with some rather talented picking buddies. Blue Country Heart features Kaukonen on guitar, Sam Bush on mandolin and fiddle, Jerry Douglas on Dobro, Byron House on bass and Bela Fleck’s tasty banjo on a few cuts. The material is all “old-timey” country standards, such as “Blue Railroad Train” from The Delmore Brothers, and a handful of Jimmie Rodgers cuts, played in a nice relaxed style. Maybe too relaxed — a little fire would have livened things up a bit, and given some of these guys more room to play, but one imagines that this record is aimed somewhat at the O Brother, Where Art Thou market. Nothing wrong with that, but it does mean that some of the inherent wildness of this type of music is toned down somewhat. Jorma still plays a great guitar, and his vocals, while sounding eerily like Jerry Garcia at points, deliver the songs like he wrote ’em. This is a good record, make no mistake — I’d just like to see this band live with a few beers in ’em, letting loose.

Columbia Records: http://www.columbiarecords.com

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