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.



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Tour Dates

Feb 25 2020
Belly Up Tavern
Solana Beach, CA
Feb 26 2020
Largo At the Coronet
Los Angeles, CA
Feb 27 2020
Coach House Concert Hall
San Juan Capistrano, CA
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Feb 29 2020
Rio Theatre
Santa Cruz, CA
Mar 01 2020
State Theatre of Modesto
Modesto, CA
Mar 03 2020
Terrapin Crossroads
San Rafael, CA
Mar 05 2020
Yoshi's Oakland
Oakland, CA
Mar 06 2020
The Center For the Arts
Grass Valley, CA
Mar 07 2020
Raven Theater
Healdsburg, CA
Apr 07 2020
Paramount Center for the Arts
Bristol, TN
Apr 08 2020
The Ramkat
Winston-salem, NC
Apr 10 2020
Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
Ponte Vedra, FL
Apr 11 2020
Trustees Theater
Savannah, GA
Apr 13 2020
Capitol Theatre
Clearwater, FL
Apr 15 2020
North Shore Center For The Performing Arts
Skokie, IL
Apr 16 2020
Stoughton Opera House
Stoughton, WI
Apr 17 2020
Wilson Theater at Vogel Hall
Milwaukee, WI
Apr 19 2020
Buskirk-Chumley Theater
Bloomington, IN
May 09 2020
Fargo Theatre
Fargo, ND
May 10 2020
Orpheum Theater Center
Sioux Falls, SD