Reviews > Shows
Leo Kottke, City Winery, New York, NY 6/17/09
In a dimly lit room glowing with candles, 63-year-old Leo Kottke walked unassumingly onto the curtained stage and without saying a word, stood in front of the seated audience and began to rapidly pick and strum his six-string. His fingerpicking filled the entire room as if he had two or three guitarists supporting him.
After two songs, Kottke began his third but stopped, groaned and, with a sly grin, said, “You write this stuff and then you can’t play it. Why do I do that to myself?” The audience laughed at him, clearly apathetic about the mistake. He appeared in fine form, his fingers moved just as agilely as they did when he began his career in 1969.
Kottke spoke to the audience, embarking on bemusing but befuddling monologues. In the first, he explained how he and his young friends used to sneak into theaters to watch movies. There was always a guitarist in the theater, he went on, who would play a moody tune whenever the vampire or the “girl in a sombrero with a tear in her eye” walked into the scene. Kottke wanted to evoke the same emotions.
Switching back-and-forth between his six- and twelve-string, Kottke performed instrumentally for most songs but put to use his baritone voice on “Julie’s House,” “Everybody Lies” and “Rings.”
His singing, was simple and elegant, but his guitar playing conjured more emotion than his vocals.
Regardless, highlights of the nearly two-hour set included Patti Page’s “Mockingbird Hill,” suegued into the Allman Brothers’ “Little Martha” which stayed true to the original.
Before the two-song encore, Kottke brought out his twelve-string and said, “You get into them and you never get back out… It’s a terrible thing to fall in love with a guitar.” Kottke then used his slide skills to pound out an incredibly fast-paced and locomotive “Vaseline Machine Gun” and a beautifully precise “Part Two.”
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