HotTuna.comHot Tuna is jumping head first into the new year by launching a U.S. tour tonight in Northampton, Massachusetts. The trek will see the veteran blues-rock band -- led by founding Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady -- performing at a variety of theaters, performing arts centers and clubs with its acoustic lineup.
The tour leg will make its way down the East Coast into Florida, then head to Texas and Arizona before traveling up the West Coast through California and into Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The trek winds down with a February 21 concert in Boise, Idaho.
At half of the shows the band has scheduled prior to reaching California, Leon Russell will be on the bill as a special guest. Meanwhile, at six concerts during the West Coast swing, longtime Jackson Browne sideman David Lindley will serve as opening act.
Kaukonen tells ABC News Radio that he puts together the group's set lists, noting that he likes to be flexible when it comes to choosing tunes.
"To me, a set is like a song…It ***** to have a beginning and an end to the dynamics," he explains. "So I try to put stuff together so that it'll flow in a nice way and that the changes will be seamless."
Asked what some of his favorite highlights of Hot Tuna's shows are, Casady says he doesn't like to reflect on past events, maintaining that each new night "is always the most important night."
He further adds, "It's impossible for me to say there's a favorite show or a favorite time or something like that…When you reflect back over your career and the different things you do at different nights with the instrument and whatever inspirations you feel you have at the time, it really falls into a much larger picture, and it doesn't really do to pick it apart."
Casady reveals Hot Tuna has plenty of touring plans beyond February, including a trip to Japan in April and a possible visit to Italy in July. Jack and Jorma also have a few confirmed shows as a duo at Kaukonen's intimate Fur Peace Ranch venue in Pomeroy, Ohio. They'll be playing there on March 22 and 23 along with their ex-Jefferson Airplane band mate Marty Balin and his solo group, and they'll also be performing on July 26. All three of those concerts are already sold out. Fans can expect more U.S. gigs to be scheduled later in 2014.
Meanwhile, Hot Tuna also is making tentative plans to record a follow-up to their most recent studio effort, 2011's Steady as She Goes, which was released more than 20 years after the group's previous album. Kaukonen tells ABC News Radio that he plans to focus on a solo album in 2014, "and the year after that we'll do another Tuna project." He admits that the group doesn't really feel pressured to come up with new material under any kind of deadline.
"The good and the bad news for us at this point in our career is we don't need to chase hits 'cause we don't have hits," Jorma declares. "And that takes a real burden off."
Here are all of Hot Tuna's confirmed upcoming U.S. tour dates:
1/2 -- Northampton, MA, Iron Horse Music Hall
1/3 -- Westhampton Beach, NY, Westhampton Beach PAC
1/4 -- Plymouth, NH, Flying Monkey Performance Center
1/5 -- Boothbay Harbor, ME, The Opera House
1/7 -- Ridgefield, CT, Ridgefield Playhouse
*1/9 -- Boston, MA, Wilbur Theatre
*1/10 -- Glenside, PA, Keswick Theatre
1/11 -- State College, PA, State Theatre
*1/12 -- Alexandria, VA, The Birchmere
*1/14 -- Charlotte, NC, Neighborhood Theatre
*1/15 -- Atlanta, GA, Variety Playhouse
*1/16 -- Orlando, FL, Plaza Theatre
1/18 -- Boca Raton, FL, Mizner Park
1/19 -- St. Petersburg, FL, Vinoy Park
1/21 -- Austin, TX, One World Theatre
*1/22 -- Dallas, TX, House of Blues
*1/24 -- Mesa, AZ, Mesa Arts Center
*1/25 -- Tucson, AZ, Rialto Theatre
1/26 -- Solana Beach, CA, Belly Up
2/8 -- Santa Monica, CA, McCabes Guitar Shop
2/9 -- Santa Monica, CA, McCabes Guitar Shop
**2/11 -- Fresno, CA, Tower Theatre
2/12 -- Berkeley, CA, Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse
**2/13 -- Sacramento, CA, Crest Theatre
2/15 -- Arcta, CA, Humboldt Brews
**2/16 -- Grants Pass, OR, Rogue Theatre
**2/17 -- Eugene, OR, McDonald Theatre
**2/18 -- Portland, OR, Aladdin Theatre
**2/20 -- Seattle, WA, Triple Door
2/21 -- Boise, ID, The Egyptian Theatre
* = with Leon Russell
** = with David Lindley.
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