I caught the first set of Hot Tuna w/ Barry Mitterhoff last night at The Mystic Theater in Petaluma. Looked like a drummer was going to join them for the second set, but it was a work night & I had a long drive ahead of me so I bailed. They played seated and it was more acoustic sounding than electric. Barry's mando sound was fabulous.......I'll flat out say it..........Mitterhoff is a top drawer pro, he has incredible chops, timing, and big ears........he has found a way to fit in with Kaukonen & Cassidy, he blends rhythmically when he isn't soloing and brought great imagination and vision to his solos. I've seen Hot tuna for like 35 years, so it is really interesting to hear mandolin added to the mix & Barry has pretty much nailed it. He did an extended solo on the old Airplane tune Good Shepherd........well I don't think Sammy, or Mike, or Chris could have done any better. He started slow, just rhythm accents, a chord type solo with space between accents, them built more complexity into the rhythm, till he sounded like Grisman, very syncopated rhythm........then into a more melodic double stop section.........into melody & variations, like a jazz master.......ending in ornamented melody, hammer ons & pull offs notes flying out of that mandolin.....reminded me of Sam's fiddle style of mandolin playing. It was a very long well orchestrated solo with great imagination & variation.......Jack & Jorma ate it up......their rhythm increased in intensity, and what a rhythm section.........here were the psychadelic rhythm monsters stomping it out & Mitterhoff's mandolin soaring above.......damn it was good!!! Reminded me of Garcia soaring above the Dead's rhythm taking each chorus higher & higher. I was familiar with Barry's recordings & saw them only 9 months ago, but he has really become an equal member of the band & Hot Tuna has never sounded better. If you want to hear some incredible blues/rock mandolin check out Hot Tuna! Mitterhoff is a monster virtuoso on mandolin. And I'm serious in comparing him to the best players........he has really taken to the tunes Tuna plays & made them his own. What a night for the mandolin! Jack & Jarma are consumate professionals with a level of communication built on almost 40 years of playing together. Every instrumental section between verses of Jorma's singing were like mini explorations........some contain solos, of any length...you get chorus after chorus till you're done.......others are more searching and interactive.......some catch fire and build up........others don't...... but it all has a group improvisational feel to it, they are exploring, searching for a rhythmic groove that they create together as a band.....real team improvisation. Cassidy doesn't lay down a regular bass beat, but plays both melodically & very rhythmic.......Jorma has the old blues grooves down, he really is carrying on the tradition of players like Rev. Gary Davis..........every tune had a distinct feel to it. They did a blues version of Nine Pound Hammer that was stellar.......Man I hope they record a live album featuring Mitterhoff, go see them if they come your way.