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Stars In My Crown

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Album Review

It's interesting the way things go in circles. In the early '60s, Jorma Kaukonen (or Jerry, as he was then) played blues guitar in the coffeehouses of the South Bay Area, sometimes with Janis Joplin. Now, after stints with Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, he's back to his first love, mixing blues, gospel, and country, backed by some excellent musicians. It's a blissful self-indulgence, laid-back but still quite heartfelt, although it has to be said that not all his material meets the standards ("Heart Temporary" is a decent opener, but not in the same class as "No Demon" or Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around"), although "A Life Well Lived" is a lovely piece of work. There are some excellent covers, a couple from the Rev. Gary Davis, and a delicious version of "By the Rivers of Babylon." As you'd expect, after four and a half decades, Kaukonen can pick a mean guitar, but he's content to let others take the lead role, especially Barry Mitterhoff's mandolin work. All in all, it makes for a great package, one to be savored over and over for its gentle, soulful heart.

Biography

Born: 23 December 1940 in Washington D.C.

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Jorma Kaukonen was born and grew up in Washington, D.C., where he first turned to the guitar. He lived in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early '60s, playing backup to singer Janis Joplin in local clubs. In 1965, Kaukonen became a founding member of Jefferson Airplane, which soared to fame in 1967. Though Kaukonen's songs and vocals were not prominently featured in the band, his distinctive guitar-playing was crucial to its sound. With bassist Jack Casady, Kaukonen...
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Stars In My Crown, Jorma Kaukonen
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