St. Louis podcaster welcomes Jewish guitarist of Jefferson Airplane to podcast

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Guitar legend Jorma Kaukonen (Scotty Hall)

Eric Berger, Associate Editor

On the latest episode of his podcast, Robert Koritz, the drummer of the Grateful Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra, welcomes a fellow Jewish musician: Jorma Kaukonen, legendary guitarist and member of Jefferson Airplane, the innovative rock band formed in the 1960s.

Koritz, who lives in St. Louis and chairs the Camp Sabra committee, told the Jewish Light that “It was amazing to hear stories about [Kaukonen] and the members of the Dead honing their craft together and really inventing a whole new genre of music. I really enjoyed hearing about the artists that influenced both Jorma and [Jerry] Garcia as they found their musical identities.”

Unfortunately, due to the limited time, Koritz and Kaukonen did not have a chance to talk about their shared Jewish identity, but Kaukonen, who Rolling Stone ranked No. 54 on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists, discussed his connection to the religion with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2015.

On the latest episode of the podcast, “The Music Plays the Band,” which will be released Thursday, Koritz also hosts Jeff Malinowski, guitarist in The Stolen Faces, a Dead tribute band based in Nashville, Tenn.

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“It was nice to hear about what is going on down there.  You wouldn’t expect the Nashville area to be a big Grateful Dead market, but they really have a vibrant music scene and community,” Koritz said.

Dark Star Orchestra also performed last weekend in Birmingham, Ala., and Pelham, Tenn., which were the band’s first shows this year.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the venues had a limited capacity and fans were socially-distanced.

In spite of the fact that there were no fans in the front row, Koritz said it was “so great to be back out there bringing the music to the fans. They are so excited to have live music and I couldn’t be happier to be playing again. It is certainly a little bit different than the way we are used to, but it is better than not playing at all.”