Orgōne, Kottke set the Babcock stage

New Orleans funk band Galactic in performance at the Babcock Theatre in May, 2010.

Frontwoman for the Los Angeles-based funk band Orgōne,  Fanny Franklin let a modest crowd of fans at the Babcock know, “This band has been on the road for two months. We love it. You know why? We live for music. You all live for music? I can tell. You’re out here. In the snow!”

In her Chuck Taylors and high-waisted jeans, the sultry singer summed up spring fever in Billings and warmed the crowd with her groovy charisma.

The first days of spring have already brought an impressive lineup of musicians through Billings. Orgōne opened for New Orleans-based group Galactic, which took the stage at the Babcock on Tuesday, March 22, their horn-fueled funk rock rolling through the historic theatre.

Later that week the Babcock’s stage seemed vast and empty in comparison to Galactic’s sprawling lineup when guitar legend Leo Kottke appeared. The theater was host to a large crowd of reserved patrons, who seemed to hold their breath as the one-man act strummed his acoustic guitars. Yet Kottke is no small act, delivering sounds that seemed as though the stage were lined with a slew of supporting guitarists.

Leo Kottke entertains fans at the Babcock Theatre in late May.

The quiet in the theater resonated Kottke’s indescribable sounds. Not only a slide-guitarist and finger-picking extraordinaire, throughout his set the comedic Kottke threw pop culture references around, mentioning Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Pete Seeger, to name a few. He told stories from the road and poked fun at himself, saying, “Sometimes I have a better time than the crowd does.”

Kottke also joked about his fading memory, at one point calling the promoter to bring him his watch so he wouldn’t lose track of time.

“I pretty much play everything I can remember,” he told the audience.

The undisputed craftsman of guitar has a voice so familiar, it was as if he soundtracked the American upbringing. Simplistically, Kottke equated life’s problems to a knot in which one keeps picking at, hoping to unravel the tangle of such a universal metaphor.

“But I digress,” Kottke said. “I am glad you came.”

Two stand-out songs of the evening included the beautiful rendition of the traditional folk song, “Corrina, Corrina,” and his song “Rings.”

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About Anna Paige

Anna Paige is a writer, poet, and photographer advocating for live music culture, visual and performance arts, and the creative class in Montana through writing. More >>