Jorma Kaukonen opened for Jorma Kaukonen and John Hurlbut Feb. 25 at Natalie’s Grandview, playing a solo-acoustic set before becoming the lead guitarist in a duo setting. 

Despite the seamless presentation with no break and no encore, Kaukonen and Hurlbut presented a gig that felt like two gigs owing to its diversity of style and substance in a live-music innovation that more musicians should employ as the effect is mesmerizing. 

“Are we following the list?” Kaukonen asked when Hurlbut took the stage.

“I noticed you did a real good job,” Hulbut replied sarcastically.

Hurlbut’s arrival transformed Kaukonen, who smiled widely after each number and told the audience how much he enjoys playing with his friend of 40 years and manager of Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch just a couple of hours south of where they were performing, from a solo-blues player into a folk-rock player accompanying his compatriot’s acoustic melodies and vocals. This is the unfamiliar side of the Jefferson Airplane co-founder and Hot Tuna guitarist – a side that suits him well as he watches Hurlbut for subtle clues and responds in an in-the-moment way.

The duo’s informal set – they were seated in jeans and work shirts over black Ts – foreshadowed the April 20 release of Another Lifetime, which takes its title from Peter Rowan’s “Angel Island,” one of eight cover songs that may or may not have followed the list. 

However they were chosen, the songs appeared in the correct order, beginning with “Take this Hammer” and “People Get Ready,” ending with “Travelin’” and scouring the American songbook to find such numbers as Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” the Byrds’ “Hickory Wind” and Dillard & Clark’s “Kansas City Southern,” which rolled out as if “Day Tripper” was an acoustic blues. 

Acoustic blues is, of course, Kaukonen’s specialty. And the veteran, 83-year-old fingerpicker used that template to take listeners on an aural trip from San Francisco to Piedmont to the Delta and back to his adopted state as he chose songs from a master list in front of his chair. 

This is the familiar side of Kaukonen, who, despite his frequent appearances in central Ohio, rendered the sold-out Sunday-night audience pin-drop quiet, the music interrupted only by the sound of a full-service restaurant doing what it does.

The din of dishes clanking and people asking for napkins didn’t deter Kaukonen, who bent notes; played impossibly shaped chords, harmonics and pull offs; and employed his thumb pick to coax big sound out of six strings on 10 songs including “How Long Blues,” “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” “Good Shepherd” and “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning.”

“It is John’s and my intention that we all have a really good time tonight,” Kaukonen said when he took the stage. 

And so it was.