Jefferson Starship rises to landmark 2,000th gig 

Rock on: Jefferson Starship, featuring original member Paul Kantner, second from left, plays in The City this week. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Rock on: Jefferson Starship, featuring original member Paul Kantner, second from left, plays in The City this week.

Like most eclectic souls in The City, Jefferson Starship titan Paul Kantner has his favorite haunts.

“I love the people that congregate on the corner in front of Caffé Trieste in North Beach,” Kantner says. “It’s like the center of the universe to me. Thank God I was born in San Francisco. If I hadn’t been born here, I would have been executed by now.

“Or, at least, have a very long jail sentence,” he says, laughing. “God, we got away with so much in our day, and still are, for that matter. I don’t know how we do it.”

Kantner’s talent, dedication and ethereal spunk clearly contributed to his significance on the music scene. He co-founded Jefferson Airplane with Marty Balin in 1965 — their first gig was at The Matrix nightclub in The City — and, along with the band, helped fuel a generation focused on anti-war activism and civil rights.

Hit songs like “Somebody to Love” followed. By 1972 the band dissolved, but two years later, in 1974, it was reborn as Jefferson Starship.

Vocalist and guitarist Kantner was along for most of the ride in that new incarnation. Although he broke away from the group during its Starship days, he later relaunched the band as Jefferson Starship again in the early 1990s.

He and the band are about to reach another milestone this week at the Rrazz Room with their 2,000th performance, an outing including Slick Aguilar, Donny Baldwin, David Freiberg, Cathy Richardson and Chris Smith featuring the hits: “Jane,” “Somebody to Love,” “Miracles,” “White Rabbit,” “Volunteers,” “Count on Me” and more.

Kanter’s secret to his longevity and legacy: “What I take from it is a passion and the joy of going out and playing this very imaginative architecture of music that seems to have no real limits to it. You never quite know what’s going to happen because we don’t play the songs the same way each night,” he says. “The imagination flourishes along with that,” he adds. “It overwhelms me pleasantly. So forget longevity. I’m still on that frontier where we’re experiencing what rock ’n’ roll is all about.”



Jefferson Starship

Where: Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $40 to $45
Contact: (800) 380-3095 or

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