"And the older you get, the more you really need to practice to stay sharp."


PM: It's beautiful, what you're doing. There are many of us that think that, after a lifetime of playing music of various sorts, it's important, it's kind of sacred, to teach, to give it away. It's good to get people playing an instrument.

JK: Do you know Steve James?

PM: No, I've seen him play at Kerrville, though.

JK: Steve is great, and a real interesting guy. If you ever interview him, you'll find him very intense and very lucid. He's really got it going on. He was saying one time how, with the old masters, teaching would arrive at a certain point in their life, and become a very important chapter in it. With me, it's not only important to pass it on, it's the thing in my life that keeps me practicing. And the older you get, the more you really need to practice to stay sharp. I'm frequently teaching seven hours a day, four days a week, and I love it. I'm doing it really slow, and practicing things I wouldn't normally, because I got too many other things going on.

PM: And it honors the fact that, early in your life, you were helped by guys that were really good, like Ian Buchanan.

JK: Right, and I'm still getting helped by guys that are really good. I was telling Jerry [Douglas] at the session, there's a lot of great players out there right now, it's a glorious time for string music. And there's a lot of great dobro players, Rob Ickes is great and Mike Auldridge, and many others. But I told him that his sound really touches my heart, there's just something about it that I really love. I screwed up some takes because I'd get so enthralled by what he was doing. He's a really funny guy, too. All those guys are. Really reminded me of my buddy time, growing up, joking around, playing.

PM: We're covering a record of one of your Fur Peace instructors this issue, Geoff Achison.

JK: I love Geoff, he's the greatest, speaking of sweet guys. You've heard him play acoustic, right? [I'd not yet heard the record, which had a couple of acoustic numbers.]

PM: No, I saw him live in town, he was playing a Les Paul.

DK: Blowing on the electric is really his thing, and he's great at it. But being a smart guy, and from another country, he realized he'd also better get good at the acoustic. Australia's not around the corner. So he took five years, and really learned it. He uses all five fingers, really has his own approach and style.

PM: Like Tommy Emmanuel or something?

JK: Well, Tommy is pretty astounding. Geoff is foremost a Blues guy, and he's a real specialist. We have Tommy coming in this year, too.

PM: How's Roy Book Binder doing?

JK: Book's a regular, he's great. [Look for a review of Roy's latest, Singer Songwriter Bluesman, in our next issue.]

PM: I always loved his playing. He does pretty well on the circuit, right?

JK: Roy world is an amazing world. Well, part of Roy's thing is always his rap, you know? Another thing is that he books his own gigs. I know people that love to work with him because they just dig making the deal with him. I wouldn't want to do any of that stuff, myself. He loves it. [A phone goes off, we both reach for our pocket.] Isn't that funny? Even though it isn't your ring, we still have the reflex.

PM: How did this team of guys get assembled for this record, had you known any of them previously?

JK: It was thanks in part to Roy, actually. He got me into Merlefest a couple of years ago. Sam had been a fan of my music when he was young. Sam and I met, and we hit it off. That day he said, "I'd really like to play 'Mann's Fate,' would you come on stage during our set and play it with me and Jerry?" ["Mann's Fate" is a Jorma classic from the very first Hot Tuna record.] So we did. We met up the next year too, and did some shows, and got to like each other. I've always been a fan of all those guys myself, so it was a thrill for me. It was like meeting Willie or something.

PM: Do you run into Jim Lauderdale at Merlefest?

JK: Oh yeah, that's another great guy. We'd love to get him up the Ranch to do a songwriting class.  continue

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