Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Mar 30th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Straight Strings

 

music LeoKottkeGuitar legend Leo Kottke tells it like it is
Leo Kottke ignited the passion of guitar players and music enthusiasts with his 1969 release, 6- and 12-String Guitar. Never before had such a rich, intricate, textured, slightly otherworldly sound emanated from the hands of one man.

Kottke had taken a step back from the mainstream of three-chord blues and rock songs, and dipped in the wellspring of old-time Americana music. The mid-western Kottke had an ability to merge genres with a lightening quick finger-picking bluegrass style that was distinctly American—imagine Django Reinhardt on Hee Haw seeing the world through a stoned Mark Twain’s eyes.

From opening for The Violent Femmes, to appearing on A Prairie Home Companion, recording with Phish bassist Mike Gordon, and phenomenal work with regional favorite Michael Hedges, Kottke has always been far ahead of the curve. Good Times caught up with Kottke on tour in Arizona, where he shared some quick wisdom from his many years on the road.

What drew you to the 12-String guitar?  Do you use picks?
I play with my fingers. No picks. The 12 first
hit me with Pete Seeger’s "Bells of Rhymney.”
That was it.
What are some of your favorite memories  of working with Michael Hedges?
They all count. He was once billed 300 bucks for all the vegetable matter he left in some motel—he carried two juicers at the time. 

In the late 1980s you opened up at Carnegie Hall for The Violent Femmes—do you find your audience to be a hybrid of rock-and-rollers and those who love instrumental pieces?
I can't define the audience, but they are diverse. Ages, backgrounds, criminal records—a good reflection of the act.

You've worked with director Terrence Malick in the past—do you have any recent/future collaborations with filmmakers?
Nothing on the table. Film can be tough because there are many opinions. Terry and I are close friends. I've spoken to him twice in 30 years: each of us is solitary … in other words.

Is your song, “The Other Day (Near Santa Cruz)” based on somebody you met, or general commentary about hippie chicks?
Just some guy I dreamed up and understand. We share some, but not all of his opinions.

Traveling around the country for decades you probably have a better view of what's happening in America than the nightly news. How has the last year been? Does it seem like people are struggling now more than in the recent past?
I can't judge. Except to say that Fox News is banned in Australia.

Where do you find inspiration?  Do you meet people on the road and immediately envision a song?
No, the guitar is enough. I can't stop. It's the “Red Shoes.”

You started out as an artist on a small label. Now, in the 21st Century, smaller labels and the ability to self-promote through the Internet are all the rage. Do you see this as a step-forward or are we throwing out the baby with the bath water?
All of the above, which is usually the way things work. There's no measure. But vinyl still wins.
You seem to have a knack for short, quirky answers.    
Believe me, I'm proud of the brevity. It's hard for me to get to the point.

 


Leo Kottke plays at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at The Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $35. For more information, call 423-8209.

 

Comments (2)Add Comment
...
written by LeoKottkeFan, December 04, 2011
Thanks for this great article, I love Leo Kottke, his music, his style, his humor, and I love the Good Times!! Thanks for this great interview/article!
...
written by Lynn McGuire, December 02, 2011
Thank you Leo for playing and interviewing in my Home town, I hope he got to ride the Big Dipper while he was there.? an absolute Santa Cruz experience!

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015 Editor's Picks

BEST NIGHT CAP WARSAW MULE AT SHADOWBROOK
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals