When it comes to rock and roll’s all-time great bassists, many names are regularly bandied about.
No logical rundown at lunch tables and barstools debating this would go without mentioning legendary four string giants, starting with Paul McCartney, Jack Bruce and John Entwistle to John Paul Jones, Geddy Lee, Bootsy Collins and Jaco Pastorius. More recent bassists such as Les Claypool and Flea would certainly make up this list.
For some reason or another, and save for those in the know, Jack Casady is rarely included in these debates and lists.
In the mid `60s, Casady joined the then-green Jefferson Airplane, who would rise on later in the decade to counterculture ambassadorship, with albums such as 1967’s “Surrealistic Pillow” and 1969’s “Volunteers” and as major players in the era-defining San Francisco scene.
Respected amongst his peers in and beyond the city – it’s Casady providing one-half of the rhythm section for Jimi Hendrix on his epic “Voodoo Chile:” – Casady’s talents were one of many in Airplane. But starting in 1969, he was given the chance to truly show his instrumental prowess in Hot Tuna, originally a side project he created with fellow Airplane chum Jorma Kaukonen and their full-time vocation a year later.
For bass enthusiasts, full-length Tuna sets such as 1972’s “Burgers” and 1973’s “The Phosphorescent Rat” are must-haves and are hands-down Casady classics. In 1990, a year after the Airplane’s reunion was unceremoniously grounded, Casady and Kaukonen returned to form with a vengeance with the excellent “Pair a Dice Found.”
Nearing the half-century mark as musical partners, Casady and Kaukonen still serve up their Tuna in both electric and acoustic flavors. Their last effort under the Tuna banner, “Steady as She Goes,” came out in 2011.
Hot Tuna, 7 p.m. Feb. 23, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. $38. FYI: (773) 728-6000, OLDTOWNSCHOOL.ORG
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The View, March 26, Schubas (18 and older, SCHUBAS.COM)
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Palma Violets, May 1, Schubas (21 and older, SCHUBAS.COM)
R5, March 30, House of Blues (HOB.COM)
Sammy Adams, April 28, Metro (METROCHICAGO.COM)