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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.

Customer Reviews

Jorma Kaukonen - Stars in My Crown, A True Gem

Jorma has cultivated a time honored set of personal spiritual tunes that are uniquely reflective and reverent. His guitar mastery fosters renewed interpretation of old time blues classics as well as leads us to new revelations. I loved how Jorma crafted the tribute to American country blues heritage on his previous recording, Blue Country Heart. The tradition continues more powerfully with Stars in My Crown as we are gifted with the sparkling gems of a fine diamond cutter whose instinct we trust with shared pride. Jorma’s maturity as an artist combines intuitive depth with a focused simplicity. There are several enchanting new songs that will totally engage you, such as Late Breaking News and Heart Temporary. I have yearned for Jorma Kaukonen to record more Rev. Gary Davis songs. He appeases my need by including two of them on this CD, There’s a Table Sitting in Heaven and Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown. The new song, Living In The Moment places us at the Fur Peace Ranch on the back porch rocking alongside in our easy chair. Jorma, thank you for a beautiful, insightful series of spiritual tunes that deepens our awareness and embellishes the music of our heart and souls!

"Now I'm 65; Lucky To Be Alive!"

.."It Takes A Long Time To Bury The Trash That Comes With The Treasure!".."Well Said"; Jorma! (We've been fans of your guitar work ever since the "Bolero" riffs of "White Rabbit" and all the "Hot Tuna Burgers" in between!) "Stars In My Crown" is: Mellow, Reflective, Spirtual & Reassuring (and what's so bad about that?) Pleasant Picking from a former Frisco Flower Child; looking back on "A Life Well Lived!" An ecclectic mix of styles here: Country, Blues, Ragtime, Jazz; even Reggae; truly a Guitarist's Groove of an album! Hey; Jorma Kaukonen; "There's A Table Sitting In Heaven"; with Jerry Garcia & Janis Joplin just there waiting for you; Man; so remember to Bring Your Guitar!-But; Stay here a while; O.K.? Grimmbo.

Jorma still kickin' at any age

I am honored to call Jorma both my teacher and my friend. Some background. He does not admit to formally being able to read or write staff music, nor tabulature. He learns and teaches from observation and by demonstrating. "Will there be Stars in my Crown" is a 125 year old Baptist Hymn, the title take from scripture. He learned the song and probably "There's a Table sitting in Heaven" from Ernie Hawkins, who is a direct student of Rev. Gary Davis. "Preacher picked the Guitar" is a Roy Book Binder song. Roy was not only a student of the Reverand, but his side man for many years. The Fur Peace ranch is Jorma's music academy in Pomeroy, Ohio. It is a shame that the accoustic version of "Stars" is but a short portion of the piece. As always, Jorma can make his guitar's voice instantly laugh with sweetness or cry out in a harsh howl as he modulates from the softest whisper to the loudest attack and back again. I wish the album had better captured his tone and voice. It does not do justice to Jorma's personal performances. I shall conclude by borrowing from Roy and saying "May your heros become your friends". Anyone who has ever heard Jorma has already felt the warmth of that friendship.


Born: December 23, 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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