Leo Kottke is an acoustic guitarist widely known for an innovative finger picking style that draws on influences from blues, jazz, and folk music, and his syncopated, polyphonic melodies.
Kottke has overcome a series of personal obstacles including partial loss of hearing and a nearly career-ending bout with tendon damage in his right hand to emerge as a widely-recognized master of his instrument.
Focusing primarily on instrumental composition and playing, Kottke has sporadically moved in a vocal direction, singing in an unconventional yet expressive baritone famously self-described as sounding like “geese farts on a muggy day”.
In concert, Kottke intersperses humorousand often bizarre monologues with vocal and instrumental selections from throughout his career, played solo on his signature 6- and 12-string guitars.
Kottke has worked with greats such as Rickie Lee Jones and Phish bassist Mike Gordon and received an honorary Doctorate in Music Performance from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in May, 2008.
Kottke’s Guitar Set to Seduce San Diego
BY T. Loper | nbcsandiego.com/
Leo Kottke, considered a genius in the field of acoustic guitar, started playing music at a young age, but guitar wasn’t his first choice. The Georgia-based songwriter originally cut his teeth on the trombone, something that Kottke says he loved, but he eventually grew disillusioned with the instrument: “I never considered that a life in trombone might differ from the one I was imagining … a life lived in hotels, in black suits and skinny ties, Ray-Bans indoors.” Sometime around age 15, Kottke intentionally bombed a trombone recital and moved on with his life.
The soon-to-be guitar virtuoso picked up his signature instrument around that time, a career choice that would lead him to become highly respected among his peers. Kottke’s path was not without bumps, however. As a youth, a firecracker accident caused irreversible damage to his left ear. Later, he injured his other ear while serving in the Navy. In the 1980s, Kottke’s intense picking style led to tendinitis and nerve damage in his hand, forcing him to reinvent his method of playing.
Kottke’s perseverence paid off, however. Between solo albums, studio efforts and collaborations, he has released more than two dozen critically acclaimed records since his 1969 debut. All along the way, Kottke has continued to put out inventive music that takes listeners to places they had never before imagined.
In addition to being an accomplished musician, Kottke just participated in a book called Innerviews: Musicians Without Borders, for which author Anil Prasad interviewed 24 songwriters of all stripes, including Björk, Ani DiFranco, Chuck D, Béla Fleck and others.