IT’S THE MUSIC, BABY……

I was checking out JORMA’s BLOG and found Jorma’s comments regarding OBSERVATIONS FROM THE ROAD interesting and thought I would throw in some of my own observation along with a very nice letter I just received. First off…..no need to defend the old Cap……he is quite articulate and straightforward and from the amount of comments coming in ……it looks like he has plenty of people who support his position. I did get a chance to read the entire letter from a fan…..who was a long time fan….who is now not a fan…..ah, that’s funny how that goes. But, anyhey……I found myself gasping at several points during the reading of said letter and in a state of disbelief that someone would even write a letter of this sort. Having spent some time out on the road with Jorma, I am very sensitive to his points as I have seen him come off stage….after just giving it everything he’s got and then a little bit more……and then be besieged by fans before he has even had time to wipe the sweat from his brow. Now I’ll tell you that Jorma is always so thankful for his fans and he doesn’t take them for granted. He is old school and he appreciates those who have made it possible for him to live the dream, and boy, he’s been living it for a long time now.

Sometimes people might not realize how hard the guys work when they’re out there on the road. While we were in Hawaii for the Fur Peace Ranch “On the Road” workshop at the ROYAL LAHAINA RESORT I had the pleasure of giving Jorma a nice intro before a private mini concert he did in the Molokai Room for the Ranchers, wives and a couple friends. Since this was not recorded and I work without notes, I have to go deep into the memory to remember what I exactly said……and it goes something like this…….”Our next guest this evening is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame……he’s Izzy’s Dad and the pineapple of Vanessa’s eye……and since James Brown is gone, he now holds the title of the hardest working man in show biz. Just to let you know how hard the Captain’s been working I want to run this down for you. We broke camp at the Fur Peace on November 15th and after the last student had left, Jorma said….”I’ve got to go and get the rental truck and pack up the equipment to head on up to LEVON’s in Woodstock”….I asked him if he was leaving in the morning and he says, “No, we’re heading out this afternoon.” They were heading to Woodstock to work on the new HOT TUNA CD…”Steady As She Goes”. Well, work they did …..for about two weeks straight….taking a short break to fly back to Ohio for Thanksgiving and then right back to the studio. The next break came when the bus delivered the Tuna posse down to New York City for the fabulous Beacon shows. Two sold-out nights of music at the Beacon and then early the next day, the bus rolls back up state to Woodstock to complete the recording project. After this Jorma starts a 7 day, 6 show run on the eastcoast. This is then followed by a 12 hour flight to Tel Aviv for Hot Tuna’s first ever show in Israel. Jorma made it back to the U.S. in a hellacious winter storm, that forced flight cancellations for days, just after Christmas, so…..he rented a car and took a couple days to drive on back to the Buck. It seems like he got to take a whole week off and then it was onto California for a playing date and now here we are in beautiful Hawaii……You see what I’m talking about?

Another story I want to relate reflects on Jorma’s grace and giving spirit. We were on a tour in Italy several years ago…Jorma has found a warm spot in the heart of Italy and he has many fans there. As was the case most nights of the tour many people waited to catch Jorma on the way out after the gig to get an autograph, a picture or just to get in some words that expressed their love, gratitude and admiration for him. On one particular night …..Jorma and Barry had played a beautiful show in front of a 14th century church on a piazza in Tolentino.. As we got ready to leave, I peeked out the door to make sure the coast was clear and there is a mob of fans. I duck back in and tell Jorma, “You won’t believe how many people are waiting for you tonight.” So……what we did was we had everyone line up ….and everyone was real good about it…..and they would then proceed past the back stage door to say hi to Jorma and get an autograph or picture if they liked. This went on for over a good hour…..I made a count of around 250 people…….and Jorma greeted and shook hands with every one of them. It was so cool and beautiful. The Italians have such a love and respect for the arts……but that’s another story. This story stands out in my mind, however, it was not an isolated one time experience. I have seen Jorma repeatedly express his gratitude in like manner ……in many, many places…….for those “God Bless Them” fans of his.

Having worked with Jorma for a long time now, I have been privileged to witness these kinds of occurrences repeatedly and Jorma’s generosity of time and spirit never ceases to amaze me. So……….here is this letter I wanted to share with you. We get alot of letters like this addressed to Jorma and Jack and sent to us at the Ranch. It really makes me think that for the most part……99% of the fans appreciate and respect them and the music.

Dear Jorma and Jack,

My wife and I had the extreme pleasure to see and your band perform at McCarter Theater in Princeton on feb 7th. Thank you so much for keeping music alive. Both of you and your band mates sounded so good, so tight and you made two people smile and dance. Your performance was tight and alive. Your new music and old made us feel alive.

You guys have been the sound track to our lives. Many hours have been enjoyed with love and your music. I did not know how else to contact you but through this address.

When you play I feel that you enjoy the music as much as we do.

Thank you for the moments and love you have given to my wife and I. We have been together for 38 years and throughout our entire relationship (three kids, 5 dogs and many cats) you have brought joy to our lives through your music. I just want to say thank you.

And you are right, Jack only needs three strings. It is the man not the machine.

Again, thank you for coming to my town. I tried to get Sellersville (we have seen Paul there a couple of times, great little theater) but they are sold out for the 15th.

Anyway Thank you for a lifetime of good music and good memories.

Love you guys for always.
Wayne and Cindy.

………….and there you have it…….”Thanks for a lifetime of good music and good memories.”……..and that’s what it’s all about !!!!!!