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Jorma Kaukonen



As he's gotten older, former Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen has returned to the traditional blues and gospel that first inspired him, but he still takes risks. His latest, Stars in My Crown (Red House), includes plenty of the stuff you'd expect from him these days--original takes on time-honored blues and gospel themes, plus rootsy covers of little-known gems, old and new--but he also delves into world music, poppy neo-gospel, and meandering instrumentals, with varying degrees of success. Like his idol, the fabled Piedmont-style guitarist Reverend Gary Davis, Kaukonen deftly juxtaposes contrapuntal rhythmic and melodic patterns in his fingerpicking, but his vocals are a bit less sure. He conveys a persuasive sense of dread on Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around" but sounds subdued elsewhere, as if he's worried he can't quite live up to the intensity of the songs' melodic and lyric themes. Nonetheless, a session with Kaukonen is a veritable workshop in nearly a century of fretboard tradition, and when he's firing on all cylinders there are few who can top him. He's joined tonight by mandolinist Barry Mitterhoff from Hot Tuna. a 7:30 and 10 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $25. --David Whiteis

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