Hot Tuna put on an exciting show with witty humor and fantastic music Saturday at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall. Photo by: Peter Flint

Washington, D.C.-based blues-rock band Hot Tuna played to a nearly full audience at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts on Saturday.

Hot Tuna consists of founding members and former Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Kasady, who started the band over 50 years ago, and mandolinist Barry Mitterhoff. At their Mason performance, the group was joined by bluegrass singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale, harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite, guitarist G.E. Smith and drummer Skoota Warner.

Hot Tuna and Lauderdale were both excited to perform at Mason on their national tour. “We’re not used to playing classy joints like this,” Kaukonen said.
“Lots of times when we play college auditoriums, there has to be chicken wire on the stage … so you guys are great,” Lauderdale said.

The audience applauded enthusiastically throughout the show, and even called out to the performers and sang along.

Although certainly maintaining a great amount of energy during the performance, it was surprising to see that the audience was comprised mainly of community members and very few Mason students.

The first half of the performance was primarily acoustic, featuring folksy, bluegrass melodies. In this half, guest artists Lauderdale and Musselwhite, who both performed songs from their most recent albums, were highlighted.

The second half was full-fledged rock. Once the second half started, Kaukonen added a little preemptive commentary.
“This is the sensitive part of the show,” he noted ironically.

The show contained a mix of instrumental and vocal numbers.

The audience was so pleased with the show that Hot Tuna performed a one-song encore immediately afterward. The performance lasted two and a half hours.