Billboard (February 9, 1985)

Talent In Action:

Leo Kottke/Tom Rosnowski
Park West, Chicago
Tickets: $12.50

      Though he's currently between labels, hasn't had a record out in almost two years and managed to play Chicago during a typical arctic snap, acoustic guitarist par excellence Leo Kottke had no problem filling the 750-seat Park West on Jan. 26.

      The reclusive Minneapolitan doesn't get out much, but when he does, it's as refreshing an evening as you're likely to experience. This time was no exception; Kottke was in nimble- fingered, drolly humorous form, his virtuosity making jaws drop and his wry monologs [sic] splitting many a side.

      Kottke switched between six-string guitar and his trademark sliding 12-string for the mostly instrumental set, which featured a melange of material from folk to blues to classical,. Included were longtime favorite "Pamela Brown" and a pensive version of "Eight Miles High" (into which Leo launched without a second's hesitation when an audience member shouted out the request). Kottke was in exceptionally good voice on the handful of numbers he sang -- a voice he has too harshly compared with "geese farts on a muggy day."

      A particular highlight of Kottke's enjoyable, low-key set was a selection of tunes he wrote for the upcoming feature film "Little Treasure," starring Ted Danson and Margot Kidder. Kottke kept up a hilarious running narrative describing the events of the movie as they pertained to his lovely, lyrical incidental music.

      Opening the show was Tom Rosnowski and one-fourth of his Plain Gold Band, guitarist Larry Clyman. Rosnowski, an Indiana-based singer/songwriter, generally performs with a four-piece electric band, but appeared before Kottke with acoustic accompaniment in the wireless spirit of the evening.

      Rosnowski has a voice like a down-home Tom Waits minus the gravel; a look that's part beat, part zoot suit and part Mark Twain; and a repertoire of songs embracing r&b, country and rock'n'roll, with a lyrical grasp of Americana both wry and sensitive. Rosnowski's an original voice, and one to look out for. -- Moira McCormick

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