Though she is not credited, Margareta Kaukonen is a titular presence on the Legendary Typewriter Tape, busily writing in the background as Janis Joplin and Jorma Kaukonen worked out their coffee-house set in the days before Big Brother & the Holding Company and Jefferson Airplane.
Joplin sings. Kaukonen plays guitar. And his boots provide rhythmic accompaniment to the typing in process.
Clackety, clackety, clack.
Then unknown and trying to change that, Joplin and Kaukonen run through six tracks including “Trouble in Mind” and “Hesitation Blues.” They flesh out a proper ending to “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and speak of opening gigs with Joplin, in a chiffon dress, emerging from behind a gold lamé curtain.
Tap. Tappity, tap tap.
The recording has long circulated among fans and Kaukonen sometimes mentions it when he plays intimate shows at his Fur Peace Ranch in Ohio. Now restored and officially released as The Legendary Typewriter Tape: 6/25/64 Jorma’s House, it’s more than an aural glimpse of two pre-fame legends – though it certainly is that.
It’s also proof that Joplin and Kaukonen were fully formed musicians as early as mid-’64, long before Big Brother began Holding and the Airplane took off. While we sadly don’t have that luxury with Joplin, it’s a gift that fans can still hear this music – these songs in this style – in Kaukonen’s contemporary performances both solo and with Hot Tuna.