Leo Kottke to perform at the historic Babcock Theatre

The week ends with a slathering of excellent music, starting Thursday at the Babcock Theatre with guitar legend and fingerpicking extraordinaire Leo Kottke. He performs an all-ages show starting at 8 p.m. at the historic theater.

In his 24 years of performance, Kottke has been instrumental in creating the combination of bluegrass, bottleneck-blues, and classical rhythms. Born in Athens, Georgia, Kottke grew up in Oklahoma and Wyoming, and had a brief stint in the Navy before settling in Minnesota.

Kottke received his first guitar as a young boy, a gift from his parents to help him recover from the death of his sister. At the time, Kottke was quoted in a news article saying, “I was following my sister in the grave. I had proceeded to get every disease in the book. I was either insane or dying or both, and my parents brought home a toy guitar.” He added, “I made up an E chord, and I was cured. I sat up, I looked out the window—I was gone, I was out of bed in about a week, and I had been there for a couple of months. I just knew I wanted to play this thing, and that’s all I ever wanted to do after that.”

Kottke recorded his first album, “12 String Blues,” on a small Minneapolis label, and by 1969 had tracked down guitar great John Fahey. With Fahey’s help, Kottke released the highly acclaimed “6 and 12 String Guitar” on Fahey’s Takoma label. Capitol Records subsequently signed Kottke, and he released nine albums between 1970 and 1976, including “My Feet Are Smiling” and “Chewing Pine.”

In total Kottke’s recorded and released more than 20 LPs centered on his craggy baritone, reminiscent of folksinger Tom Waits or the more short-winded radio personality and writer Garrison Keillor.

Reserved seating for the March 24 performance is still available. Tickets, costing $29.50, are available at Ernie November, Rimrock Mall, by phone at 800-514-ETIX, online at 1111presents.com, or at the door.

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