The Leo Kottke Connection

Photo by Tom Berthiaume

 

 

 

Well, here we go. The first time I heard 6&12 string, being a guitar player, was "Jesus this can't possibly be one guy playing this stuff." But I knew something was happening!!
    This was early seventies, I was playing a few clubs in Chicago. Mostly, it was acoustic six string. A friend said, "Man you gotta hear this guy." I knew right away this was something nobody had done or heard before. Boy, I started listening to that 6&12 album day and night. However, as much as I loved it, being a guitar player, it seemed this type of playing was way beyond me. All the time, though, I knew something special was going on.
    Enter BOZO guitars. I'd heard about a place on North Lincoln Ave. called WOODEN MUSIC. So, I went down to check it out. I was lookin' around, and there was this guy playin' a 12 string. I started talkin' to him, and then he played a song that he wrote called TURNPIKE TOM. Later I found out this guy was Steve Goodman. I mention this only to give the flavor and talent going through this store. Wooden Music was owed by Jim Leetch, and he rented the back of his store to guess who?? BOZO!!
    Of course, once I played his guitars and talked with him, I ordered one. At that time, early 70's he already had a waiting list - about 6 to 9 months. I've got my BOZO on order and Kottke is coming to the Quite Knight. this is a club on Belmount in downtown Chicago. This was promoting his 6&12 string album. Some friends and I went down to see the show. There was no line to get in. This place was your typical folk club and it was a great venue for Leo.
    I'll never forget, at that time he was playing the Martin 12 with a De Armound pick-up in the sound hole. I think he also was playin' a 6 he had borrowed from someone. Three songs into his set, he mention's BOZO. Yea, he heard about the place and ordered a guitar from him. I'm thinking this is really cool. We both were there and we both ordered guitars.
    OK. Leo comes back to the Quite Knight a few months later. longer lines. A few months later - lines around the block. The last time he played there, I sat at the bar, and we talked about his deal with Capital records. He said he was looking forward to working with drums and a bass player. I guess Capital wanted to see the top 40 potential for Leo. He knew I was a guitar player and before we parted, for his next set, he asked me if I wanted to join him on stage. Of course, I was too nervous to accept. Boy, I'd like to have that moment back.
    Then, because I worked for a record store that also promoted all the the Howard Stein shows out of New York, Leo came to the auditorium theater in Chicago. He opened for Procol Harem. That was great. I was able to spend almost an hour back stage with, to me, the Meister of acoustic guitar.
    The best part was, by then I had figured out most of Leo's secrets like open tuning.
    "Open tuning." That was the key. Remember, back then, tab had not been invented. And forget about finding anything by Leo Kottke in sheet music. IT WAS ALL BY EAR BABY!!!!
    The last time I saw Leo was in Seattle. A great little place were I snuck backstage, found him asleep on the couch with a broken foot, woke him up, gave him a song to play which he never did, then talked to him after the concert. I'm not sure if he'll ever forgive me for disturbing him. Who cares?!?!
    Man, he sure can play. He's coming to back to Seattle in March. The journey goes on.
    Keep up the good work.

--- Guitar Bob

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