Red Light Management

Leo Kottke

Artist Bio

Acoustic guitarist Leo Kottke was born in Athens, Georgia, but left town after a year and a half. Raised in 12 different states, he absorbed a variety of musical influences as a child, flirting 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 underage, to be underwater, and eventually lost some hearing shooting at lightbulbs in the Atlantic while serving on the USS Halfbeak, a diesel submarine.


Kottke had previously entered college at the U of Missouri, dropping out after a year to hitchhike across the country to South Carolina, then to New London and into the Navy, with his twelve string. “The trip was not something I enjoyed,” he has said, “I was broke and met too many interesting people.”


Discharged 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. (The label released one other LP by The Langston Hughes Memorial Eclectic Jazz Band.)


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. Still, despite arguments with label heads as well as with Bruce, 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┬ácollaboration with Phish bassist Mike Gordon, “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.


Kottke has been awarded two Grammy nominations; a Doctorate in Music Performance by the Peck School of Music at the U of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; and a Certificate of Significant Achievement in Not Playing the Trombone from the U of Texas at Brownsville with Texas Southmost College.



Read More

Tour Dates

May 08 2019
Appell Center for the Performing Arts
York, PA
May 09 2019
Tarrytown Music Hall (w/ Bruce Cockburn)
Tarrytown, NY
May 10 2019
The Center For Arts In Natick
Natick, MA
View More
May 12 2019
Rockport Music-Shalin Liu Performance Center
Rockport, MA
May 14 2019
One Longfellow Square
Portland, ME
May 15 2019
One Longfellow Square
Portland, ME
May 16 2019
One Longfellow Square
Portland, ME
May 18 2019
Hangar Theatre
Ithaca, NY
May 19 2019
Sellersville Theater
Sellersville, PA
Jun 07 2019
Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse
Berkeley, CA
Jun 08 2019
Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse
Berkeley, CA
Jun 09 2019
Auburn State Theatre
Auburn, California
Jun 13 2019
Egyptian Theatre
Park City, UT
Jun 14 2019
Egyptian Theatre
Park City, UT
Jun 15 2019
Egyptian Theatre
Park City, UT
Jul 31 2019
Lensic Performing Arts Center
Santa Fe, NM
Aug 02 2019
Aggie Theatre
Fort Collins, CO
Aug 03 2019
Boulder Theater
Boulder, CO
Aug 04 2019
Breckenridge Riverwalk Center Adm
Breckenridge, CO
Sep 26 2019
Bing Crosby Theater
Spokane, WA
Oct 20 2019
Aladdin Theater
Portland, OR
Oct 25 2019
Tower Theatre
Bend, OR
Nov 02 2019
Buckman Performing Arts Center
Memphis, TN