Iowa State Daily (November 7, 1997)

Prine, Kottke discover unexpected success in music
From pancake breakfast to stardom...

by Heather McClure, Daily Staff Writer

      A pancake breakfast in Muskogee, Okla., would probably make most people full. For Leo Kottke, it was the beginning of a successful career.

      At the breakfast "Kottke played as a trombonist with another boy on trumpet and the boy's father on baritone saxophone. Kottke said that the smell of frying sausages, a whole town's worth, just beyond the lip of Muskogee's auditorium stage, had convinced him that there must be something better beyond the trombone," according to a press release.

      It was then that his career as a "self-taught guitarist relying, for guidance, on what theory and harmony he'd learned on trombone" began.

      What resulted is a style of music that is difficult to categorize. A solo guitarist relying on a 12-string guitar, Kottke's folk-to-blues and bluegrass-to-hillbilly rhythms has created a style that may be found in any given bin at the record store, according to a press release.

      "There is more harmony and more rhythm in his music than is found in traditional folk music, as well as frequent visits to jazz and classical neighborhoods -- all of which Kottke calls, "'the mark of the autodidact,'" according to a press release.

      "The music, despite its label obscurity, is very vivid stuff, much more aggressive and rhythmic than what is usually expected from an acoustic guitar."

      Since Muskogee, Kottke has used his unique sound to produce songs such as "Standing in My Shoes," "Vaseline Machine Gun" and "Cripple Creek."

      Kottke has gone on to release 21 recordings, including his latest "Standing In My Shoes" and was inducted into the Guitar Player Magazine's Hall of Fame. He has also worked in movies with Terrence Malik and Allen Sharp and has written and performed the music for a BBC documentary.

      Although some fans may have an extensive Kottke collection, including his anthology, "Leo Kottke, 6 & 12 String Guitar," there is something they will get out of a live performance that they will not hear in his recordings -- his ability to make people laugh.

      "He is hilarious, a surprising blend of brains and dumb luck. Skillful at finding correspondence where none had been found before, a listener might experience the sensation that Kottke has lost it, only to discover that he's known where 'it' was all along. It's the listener who gets lost, finding home is where the laugh is," according to a press release.

      Although there will be no pancakes, Kottke will be appearing as John Prine's special guest tonight at Stephens Auditorium.

      The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25.50 and are still available through the Iowa State Ticket Center and all TicketMaster locations.

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