Singing the blues in Beaver Creek |

Singing the blues in Beaver Creek

Sarah Mausolfsmausolf@vaildaily.comBeaver Creek CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

Jorma Kaukonen, the former lead guitarist for Jefferson Airplane, never pictured himself as a rock star.Raised on blues concerts in Washington, D.C., he gravitated to the real life grit inherent to the blues. So when, in 1962, a friend invited Kaukonen to rehearse with Jefferson Airplane in a California club, Kaukonen was surprised by how much he liked playing with the rock band. What I discovered then, and I find it true today, is that rock n roll is a very seductive art form, Kaukonen said.But the seduction went both ways. As Jefferson Airplane climbed the charts with songs such as White Rabbit and Somebody to Love and spawned spin-off groups Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna, a whole generation of young fans gained exposure to Kaukonens classic blues style and fingerpicking.Tom Robbins, owner of Eagle Valley Music in West Vail, said Kaukonens work served as a precursor to the modern jam band.Kaukonen returns to his blues roots Tuesday night during a performance at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek. In the show, titled Guitar Blues, Kaukonen teams up with two other great blues guitarists, each with a district sound. Electric guitarist Robben Ford, known for playing with Joni Mitchell and Miles Davis, tends toward a jazzy sound, while Ruthie Foster brings powerful, gospel-inspired vocals.The blues is an interesting art form, and the way that we approach it or the way this show represents it is, in my opinion, not a traditional landscape of the blues because we all do things so differently, Kaukonen said.The trio, a grouping imagined by the Columbia Artist Management company in New York, has been traveling around the country since Jan. 28 in the kind of bus your grandmother would go to Atlantic City in, Kaukonen joked. They have been feeding off one anothers energy on stage. During Guitar Blues, each guitarist performs separately before coming together for a six-string celebration.The concert offers an opportunity to get up close and personal with Kaukonen. Famous for founding the blues-rock band Hot Tuna, Kaukonen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the mid-1990s.He released a new album earlier this month titled River of Time. On the recording, Kaukonen revisits classic songs by blues legends such as the Rev. Gary Davis and debuts original work such as the title track, River of Time.Once the Guitar Blues tour wraps up, Kaukonen plans a national tour with Hot Tuna. Kaukonen, 68, lives in Pomeroy, Ohio, on a 100-acre farm where he runs a music camp for adults and children.Any time somebody gets set on fire by the music, Im excited, Kaukonen said. That makes me feel good, but when you can see that a youngster is really going somewhere with it, thats really gratifying.High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or

What: Guitar BluesWhen: Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver CreekCost: $60More information: 888-920-2787 or

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