From America's blues and country treasure chest Kaukonen has dug deep and retrieved songs like the Delmore Brothers' "Nashville Blues" ("The people here/they treat me fine/they give me beer/and they give me wine"). Recently he's tapped the song catalog of one of the great underrated modern acoustic blues songwriters, Roy Book Binder, and all his blues and country pieces have the kind of rhythmic ease that comes only after a few decades of getting into the basic beats. He's always been a formidable guitarist, and his instrumental pieces are subtle and detailed.
But it's Kaukonen's recent originals like "Heart Temporary" that really draw you in. A lot of them have inspirational lyrics of the sort that seem blandly simplistic unless you happen to have the authority and the musical ease to get away with them, both of which he has. In this case, inspirational lyrics carry the wisdom of old age.
Jorma Kaukonen comes to the Ark on Friday, October 7.
[Originally published in October, 2011.]