GRASS VALLEY, CA, January 13, 2023 – The Center for the Arts is pleased to welcome acoustic guitarist Leo Kottke to the Marisa Funk Theater on February 10, 2023. Leo Kottke has performed for five decades, setting the highest standard for acoustic finger-picked guitar. He was born in Athens, Georgia, and was raised in twelve different states, allowing him to absorb a variety of musical influences. As a child, he flirted with both violin and trombone, before abandoning Stravinsky for the guitar at age 11.
After adding a love for the country-blues of Mississippi John Hurt to the music of John Phillip Sousa and Preston Epps, Kottke joined the Navy while underage, to be underwater, and eventually lost some hearing shooting at lightbulbs in the Atlantic while serving on the USS Halfbeak, a diesel submarine.
Discharged from the Navy in 1964, he settled in the Twin Cities area and became a fixture at Minneapolis’ Scholar Coffeehouse, which had been home to Bob Dylan and John Koerner. He issued his 1968 recording debut LP Twelve String Blues, recorded on a Viking quarter-inch tape recorder, for the Scholar’s tiny Oblivion label. After sending tapes to guitarist John Fahey, Kottke was signed to Fahey’s Takoma label, releasing what has come to be called the Armadillo record. Fahey and his manager Denny Bruce soon secured a production deal for Kottke with Capitol Records.
Kottke’s 1971 major-label debut Mudlark positioned him somewhat uneasily in the singer/songwriter vein, despite his own wishes to remain an instrumental performer. Kottke flourished during his tenure on Capitol, as records like 1972’s Greenhouse and 1973’s live My Feet Are Smiling and Ice Water found him branching out with guest musicians and honing his guitar technique. With 1975’s Chewing Pine, Kottke reached the U.S. Top 30 for the second time; he also gained an international following thanks to his continuing tours in Europe and Australia. His collaboration with Phish bassist Mike Gordon, entitled Clone, caught audiences’ attention in 2002. Kottke and Gordon followed with a recording in the Bahamas called Sixty Six Steps, produced by Leo’s old friend and Prince producer David Z.
Pre-pandemic, the longest this intrepid traveler had been off the road in fifty years was two months, and with that comes an evening of unforgettable storytelling and music that has been influenced by a lifetime of adventure. Don’t miss an evening with the brilliant acoustic guitarist Leo Kottke at The Center for the Arts on February 10, 2023.