If Leo Kottke's "Rings" doesn't put you in a good mood

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/03/20/with-a-happy-tune.html


This is one of my all time favorites from Leo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmPkBQ04XE4

My son and I took a road trip to Milwaukee a dozen years ago or so to see Leo Kotke play at a small venue somewhere downtown. We got there early so we had to hang out by the entrance until they opened the doors. Leo showed up shortly after we got there. My son is huge fan and so he was appropriately star struck. Leo was very gracious and, when he found out that my son was a budding guitarist, spent a good 10 minutes giving him pointers.


First the Trommelwähler, now telephone and door bell ringing? Analogue days on bb!

I suppose I didn’t know the name of this guy, but the stringwork rings a bell. I shall ask my family if they have records of him.


He doesn’t really do “Rings” or “Julie’s House” anymore, because he can’t do the high part like he used to because of tendonitis.

Watching Leo Kottke play Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring was one of the most astonishing things I’ve ever seen someone do with a guitar on stage.


Ah, now I know why I know him! I think I listened to reruns of this Rockpalast recording in the early 90s…


thanks for posting that was great, in my hometown too

And of course, it don’t get no better than this . . .



Leo is a wondrously weird dude. He absolutely knows that he is more or less asocial. He was so wrapped up in his guitar that he never exactly learn ho to be, er, social. But, Damn if he can’t tell stories about being asocial. The times when he had no idea he was drooling on his guitar. He plays here in Austin, pretty much every March at our old theatre, The Paramount. And sometimes he just stops and tells the oddest fucking stories that professional comedians would fucking KILL to be able to do. Somehow, he told a story about how you crack chickens necks by swinging them around and how he couldn’t quite get the hang of it. Lord. He had the audience literally rolling on the floor. He wasn’t even trying to be funny.


Yes, Leo is the master of the 12-string, but he gave em up for a bit because, goddammit! this things are impossible to keep in tune. That is an insane amount of tension on the guitars body! I think Leo picked it back up after guitar manufacturers began to ask him, well, just what do we need to do to make this work. And they listened.

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This Kotte thread prompted me, by the way of nothing and a guitar, to look up The Hole in the Banana.

Just look at it.

Explanatory note for international audience: this used to be a tune played in nicely illustrated pause sequences on German television done by the NDR, a regional station of the national television network. I wonder what kids next door would say if I told them we once had pause sequences on TV when switching between network contributors, or switching from the nationally broadcasted news to the regional program announcement.


Some of the most impressive banjo/guitar playing I’ve heard on record is from Tony Trischka & Beppe Gambetta.

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Heard you like strings

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