Janis Joplin & Jorma Kaukonen: The Legendary Typewriter Tape: 6/25/64 Jorma’s House

Janis Joplin and Jorma Kaukonen: The Legendary Typewriter Tape: 6/25/64 Jorma’s House

Jeff Tamarkin on January 27, 2023

Janis Joplin and Jorma Kaukonen: The Legendary Typewriter Tape: 6/25/64 Jorma's House

From the time they initially met in the fall of 1962, and for the next several years until the first movements of rock and roll notoriety caught the eye, singer Janis Joplin and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen occasionally collaborated in hospitable venues in the Bay Area. On an early summer morning in 1964, they met at Jorma’s home to rehearse for one of those upcoming concerts in San Francisco. Kaukonen pressed the record button on his recorder while his wife Margareta tapped away on a typewriter across the room, not trying to provide clicky percussion, simply immersed in his own work. The resulting 23-minute recording has been in circulation among bootleg collectors for decades (a couple of songs even made it onto a Joplin compilation album), a throwback to a bygone era when two ambitious and prodigious young talents, the little ones, more than acquaintances, actually worked at their trade out of pure love. There are only seven numbers here in all, most of which are now familiar to anyone who has spent any time researching the standard blues repertoire. What is most surprising is how well educated these two artists were, long before their names were known worldwide. Joplin is a born blues stylist, her sultry and gritty performances imbued with all the soul and wisdom of the older singers she idolized. Kaukonen, a master of fingerpicking acoustic guitar, is also natural and knowledgeable. On songs like “Trouble in Mind,” “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and “Hesitation Blues,” which sound clearer and crisper than ever, yet still homespun, they form a blues duet so pure and captivating. like anyone before or after. And yes, although it was not his intention, that day a serious story was made.

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