Interview: Legendary Guitarist Leo Kottke Visits SOPAC April 26

Leo Kottke visits SOPAC April 26.

NJ Next is proud to be the exclusive media sponsor for SOPAC’s “Artists You Should Know” series, which includes the Red Molly show. Read our interviews with other artists in the series, including Jose James, Alexis Morrast and Red Molly.

Master of both the six- and 12-string guitar, Leo Kottke will perform Thursday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. at South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC).

Born in Athens, Georgia, the singer/songwriter tried his hand at the violin and trombone before settling on the acoustic guitar as his instrument of choice. Known for keeping his live performances fresh with his banter, droll humor and improvisation, the artist keeps it close to the vest in terms of what his live show will include. But one thing’s for sure, it’ll never be dull.

“Risk is essential,” explained Kottke via email. “I never really know what I’m going to do. Sometimes I’ll get in a rut — when that happens I depend on desperation to break things up.”

Leo Kottke visits SOPAC April 26.

Kottke, long-revered among the music community for his flat-picking, suffered with tendonitis that many feared could leave the legend sidelined. Not one to be easily deterred, he found a preferred work-around.

“I cured the tendonitis by changing my technique,” he stated. “I sucked for three years, biting the last bullet in Australia, but I’m a better player for the cure. It’s much more fun after the cure, the before was stupid… gave me tendinitis.”

For most of his lengthy career, Kottke has been thought of as a solo artist. But he partnered with Rickie Lee Jones, playing on her Traffic From Paradise album, while she returned the favor by producing Kottke’s 1994’s Peculiaroso. Kottke also teamed up with Phish bassist Mike Gordon for two albums.

When asked if he were open to future pairings, Kottke wrote, “A guitar sounds good if you drop it on the floor. Collaborations come out of friendship. If you get along you might be able to play. Sometimes it works. Actually, it usually works. Always a privilege to play.”

Tickets are still available for Leo Kottke, who’s received two Grammy Award nominations, at SOPAC.

Tickets are available and priced at $32-$42.