Iconic acoustic guitarist Leo Kottke is widely revered as a master of his instrument. Known for a fingerpicking style that draws on blues, jazz, and folk music, and for syncopated, polyphonic melodies, Kottke intersperses humorous monologues with selections from throughout his career, played solo on his 6- and 12-string guitars.
As a youth, Kottke was influenced by folk and delta blues music, notably that of Mississippi John Hurt. He hitchhiked across the country with his twelve string and became a fixture at Minneapolis' Scholar Coffeehouse, which had been home to Bob Dylan and John Koerner. He issued his 1968 recording debut Twelve String Blues for Scholar's tiny Oblivion label and released what has come to be called the Armadillo record, on John Fahey's Takoma label before moving on to Capitol Records.
Kottke's 1971 major-label debut, Mudlark, positioned him in the singer/songwriter vein. Subsequent records Greenhouse, My Feet Are Smiling and Ice Water found him branching out with guest musicians. With 1975's Chewing Pine, Kottke reached the U.S. Top 30 for the second time; he also gained an international following thanks to his continuing tours in Europe and Australia.
Kottke released an album annually from 1989 to 1991: My Father's Face, followed by That's What and then Great Big Boy, which featured a guest appearance by Lyle Lovett. Two years later, he returned with Peculiaroso, produced by Rickie Lee Jones. The solo album One Guitar, No Vocals was released in 1999.
His collaboration with Phish bassist Mike Gordon, Clone, caught audiences' attention in 2002 and was followed by Sixty Six Steps, produced by Prince producer David Z. Between these two duet albums, he released a solo album, Try and Stop Me in 2004.