Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
May 22nd
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

 

Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival