Iowa State Daily, November 29, 1995

Kottke brings his love for music to the M-Shop

by Corey Moss, Daily Staff Writer

     Acoustic guitarist Leo Kottke has been playing music for a large portion of his 50-year lifespan and has no plans of giving up now.

      "I spend 80 percent of my time on the road, and I love every second of it," Kottke said.  "I love playing music now more than ever, which really surprises me."

      A native of Athens, Ga., Kottke resided in five states before settling in Oklahoma.  Then the trombonist in a three-piece horn set, Kottke quickly became bored with the instrument and began to teach himself on a guitar.

      "There's nothing in the world more fulfilling to me than playing guitar," Kottke added.  "I love to play anywhere.  It's a great privilege."

      Kottke has found himself playing with such artists as Big Head Todd and the Monsters and the legendary Joe Pass.  He has recorded with the Violent Femmes, Lyle Lovett and Rickie Lee Jones, who produced his Peculiaroso disc.

      "Joe Pass was definitely one of the pioneers of pop guitar," he said.  "It was a shame when he passed away last year."

      Relying largely on his signature model 12-string guitar, Kottke has earned his way into Guitar Player Magazine's Hall of Fame.  The artist blends harmony and aggressive rhythm with folk, jazz and classical to create a style all his own.

      "I don't describe my music; there is nothing that fits," Kottke explained.  "What is unique is what other people need to figure out."

      Debuting in 1969 on John Fahey's independent music label, Takoma Records, Kottke has since released over 21 recordings.  Working with movies and TV has gained an even larger audience for the musician.

      "Mail comes in from people of all ages, and it has been that way since the beginning," Kottke said.  "Having an all ages audience makes it harder for commercial radio to label you, and I'm proud of that.  I have friends from all over the planet, and it comes from not living in a big city.  I take pride in not living in LA, New York or Nashville."

      Kottke has a lot to be proud of, including the upcoming Rhino Records anthology of his recordings from Capitol, Chrysalis and Private records.   A reissue of his 6 & 12 String Guitar debut and a new live album also show a bright future for Kottke.

      "I talk a lot more when I am live, and I always perform solo," he said.  "My performances are better.  I would much rather play live than record.  All audiences are the same, to a sad extent.  But I guess, so is the world.  On a sunnier side, I always perform the same.  I don't speak German when I am in Germany, I do what feels right."

      Kottke, who thinks of himself as a composer for guitar, is included in the course of guitar studies at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.

      "When I write music, I wait for ideas to come to me," he said.  "You have to be playing a lot for the ideas to come."

      There is no doubt that Kottke plays a lot.  His future includes touring the U.S., Australia and Europe.

      "I am very solitary; I don't make plans. I hate them," Kottke said.  "I don't set goals either.  It's all way too republican for me."

      Leo Kottke is planning on 7 and 10 p.m. performances tonight at the M-Shop.  The 7 p.m. show is sold out, but tickets are still available for the later show at all Ticketmaster outlets for $10.  Tickets are $8 for students.

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