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Jorma Kaukonen

Blue Country Heart – 2002 (Columbia)

Reviewed by Brian Steinberg

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CDs by Jorma Kaukonen

If you're looking to ride the latest craze in country music, best turn your ears elsewhere. But if you have a yearning to tap your toe and nod your head, make certain to pick up Jorma Kaukonen's latest, a record crafted with the best of intentions and no small amount of heart.

Kaukonen, the one-time guitarist for both Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, leaps out with a baker's dozen of tunes that sound quite right for a summer day on the front porch. There's nothing shocking here, except for the amount of spirit and fun baked into presentations of tunes like the swinging "Just Because," or what sounds like a version of Guy Clark's "Desperadoes Waiting for a Train."

Selections here include versions of classics by Jimmie Rodgers and the Delmore Brothers, and bluegrass virtuosos like Sam Bush, Byron House and Jerry Douglas are along for the ride - all without overshadowing Kaukonen's well-known finger-picking stylings. There's nothing wrong with saying, "I've heard this song before!" - especially when the person singing it is obviously having such a great time and plays with more than enough skill to make these tunes his own.