I want to invite you to hear a classic Blues composition in a memorable version from legendary American guitarist Jorma Kaukonen. Kaukonen played this song many times over the years. His signature guitar style combines a blues-based fingerpicking with contemporary innovations.
Hesitation Blues is a traditional tune recorded for the first time in the early 1900s by Billy Smythe, he which also written the song with Scott Middleton, and Art Gillham. It was also one of the first electrical recordings for Columbia Records. Another version was published by the Father of the Blues W.C. Handy as Hesitating Blues. Many artists over the years have taken credit as writer, frequently adapting the lyrics of one of the two published versions.
The version of “Hesitation Blues” I show you is an original arrangement for guitar by Jorma Kaukonen (former guitarist of legendary Jefferson Airplane) in his distinctive and creative style. He was inspired by gospel and blues singer-guitarist Rev.Gary Davis. The Best-known version was played and arranged by Jorma Kaukonen and his bandmate Jack Casady as the duo Hot Tuna in 1969.
Hot Tuna on stage in 1976
Kaukonen also played as a solo act in coffee houses in early 60s accompanying a young Janis Joplin. One version of this song came from this amazing duo and it can be heard on an historic recording known as “The Typewriter Tapes”, taken at Kaukonen’s home on June 25, 1964, (with on background his first wife Margareta Kaukonenon on typewriter).
Jorma Kaukonen and Janis Joplin in 1964
Here below you can watch and listen some versions from Kaukonen, both with Jack Casady and that with Janis, and one memorable recording from a solo acoustic concert on stage at Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ (USA) in May 1978.
Hesitation Blues recorded from Kaukonen as solo on stage at Capitol Theatre, 1978.
Live recording with Jack Casady from the period of the first “Hot Tuna” album, in 1970, at the KQED produced NET broadcast FOLK GUITAR hosted by Laura Weber.
From “The Typewriter Tapes” recorded with Janis Joplin at Kaukonen’s home in SF on June 25, 1964. (Margareta Kaukonen on typewriter)