Tuesday, 19 February 2013

LINK: Jefferson Starship still flies unplugged

Paul Kantner, second from left, will perform an acoustic show with Jefferson Starship on Feb. 16 at the Mount Dora Music Festival.
As part of Jefferson Airplane, singer-guitarist Paul Kantner helped create the acid-tinged, heavy rock sound that defined psychedelic San Francisco in the 1960s.
Yet Kantner's role in that band and its signature hits such as "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit" was influenced by his first musical love, the folk sound of Pete Seeger and the Weavers.
"I'm in awe of the Weavers because of what they did, how they did it and how it influenced us," Kantner said in a recent phone interview from his San Francisco home. "A lot of the three-part harmonies in our band came from my infatuation with the Weavers. The reason we had a girl singer in the Jefferson Airplane was because of [Weavers' female vocalist] Ronnie Gilbert."
Kantner will revisit his folk roots in an acoustic concert by Airplane-spinoff Jefferson Starship on Saturday as part of the Mount Dora Music Festival. The four-day event, which starts Thursday, will feature concerts by pop, classical, folk and rock acts, including free outdoor performances in Donnelly Park.
Kantner's current incarnation of Jefferson Starship, a four-piece ensemble featuring founding member David Freiberg, multi-instrumentalist Chris Smith and lead vocalist Cathy Richardson, focuses on the band's roots in the early 1970s. The group plays about 100 concerts a year.
In its early days, Jefferson Starship was a freewheeling outfit that enlisted contributions from members of Crosby, Stills & Nash and the Grateful Dead. (Kantner's band shouldn't be confused with Starship featuring Mickey Thomas, a group that performs Starship's 1980s hits.)
Kantner, 71, discovered Richardson, who fills the role of iconic vocalist Grace Slick, after watching her in the lead role of whiskey-voiced rocker Janis Joplin in the theatrical production "Love, Janis."
"She sang like Janis," Kantner said. "I heard her voice and asked her, 'Hey, do you want a job?' It turns out she had been fond of our band since she was a teenager. So now, she's delightfully singing in her own way all the songs that we do."

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