The acclaimed band Jefferson Starship, known for their musical experimentation in psychedelic, folk, and rock music, will perform at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock on June 29th. Descended from Jefferson Airplane, and known for hits such as “Somebody To Love,” “Volunteers,” and “Miracles,” Jefferson Starship has been going strong for nearly forty years. Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship founder Paul Kantner was available for an interview to discuss Jefferson Starship’s music as well as their upcoming show in Woodstock.
Unlike other band that commonly tour for months at a time, Jefferson Starship, aside from a few exceptions, tours only up to three weeks at a time. Citing comfort and sanity as the reason for such short tours, the members of Jefferson Starship prefer to spend as much time in San Francisco as possible.
San Francisco, Paul Kantner’s hometown and the place of Jefferson Airplane’s formation, has played a key role in Kantner’s life. “As much as you may fault it, it’s one of the best ways of coming into new ideas. Meeting people and talking with them down in the various places in town, and hanging out here and there, and you just run into ideas, and frontiers, and adventures and just a whole lot of stuff that completely fills me up, actually.”
The ideas, frontiers, and adventures that influence Kantner perhaps contribute to his desire to give every audience a unique experience. Kantner explained, “We have several different kinds of audiences and I usually try to tailor a show to the kinds of people I expect to be playing to. Sometimes when we get there it’s different and I have to recalculate everything, but by and large I can usually figure out what to play and it works out pretty good. And… we’re flexible so that adds in and mixes pretty well.”
“As a band we don’t really play the same show every time we go out and play. We have a bunch of different songs and I pick and choose among them, depending on where were playing, who were playing to, and what we’re feeling like. And more often than not, the chances are, the set I draw up will change half way through the set. It’s based on a hundred different factors.”
He continued, “We don’t play even the same song that we play night after night the same way. Or even in the same key for that matter. I’m thinking of having everybody exchange instruments some night and just see what happens with that, but I haven’t quite got there yet.”
Because Jefferson Starship prefers to perform for weeks at a time, there is plenty of time for side projects. Kantner is currently in the process of working on two books. The first is a science fiction book, while the second, which is to be called Tales from the Mothership, will contain tales from their time on the planet, from birth through Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship.
According to Kantner, side projects are common amongst the rest of the band. When they are not playing together, all of the members have other things they do. At the moment, Jefferson Starship is focusing on completing a few new albums. Currently, they are working on a folk music album that will include the use of the acoustic guitar and banjo. Long term, there is a plan for another Jefferson Starship rock n’ roll album.
Kantner commented, “The studio is much more controlled, and planned, and organized, and the stage you can sometimes let yourself go wild, and things are there that you don’t plan or think about, and they just occur and you go with them, and that’s one of the joys of the stage, is just the coming out of nowhere and not knowing what you’re going to do and going with it.”
“It drives you in a way that is unlike any other art I think, because of the sound and the connection with the people in front of you and the connection back to you from them. There is a nice vibrant situation going along there.”
The connection that Kantner speaks of will no doubt be alive during the local performance in Woodstock. Kantner explained, “I’ve walked around the town [Woodstock] and gone in various places and I’ve enjoyed myself. I like that area of the country quite a lot. And the forests and everything I am quite fond of up there. You have different kinds of forests than we do out here on the West coast. I like them.”
He continued, “I usually just go with what occurs. And that takes care of me more than enough as a general rule. I like being in the town, I like the people around me, and so you can just wander around aimlessly as I say, as I do in San Francisco, and run into people you wouldn’t expect. And that’s the thing I like about that. And Woodstock has a good plethora of things like that to wander around and find.”
Fans of all kinds will be guaranteed a one of a kind experience and performance by a historic band at a local venue. Jefferson Starship will be performing at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, NY on June 29th, 2012 at 9 pm.
Photo: Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.