red lights


The skies open up

Leo Kottke
Barrymore Theatre
Madison, WI
April 15, 2005
Leo Kottke Leo Kottke

Story and photos by Matt Schwenke

There is a mythical lore to the life of a traveling folk musician. Some sort of fascination with the life of a storyteller who suddenly appears in town, entertains, and disappears as quickly as he came. Just as quickly into a life that seems to only begin again at the next city or next venue.Leo Kottke After some misalignment of the planets upset my chi, I walked past the vintage looking movie theatre concessions counters and towards the old inner doors. It wasn't until after the door closed behind me and blocked the light that flooded in from the lobby that I began to feel that I had walked into some other dimension. The star-like lights on the ceiling of the theatre glimmered while a lone man stood centered on the stage with only a mic and an extra guitar standing beside. Already, the silhouttes filling the seats stared intently at the man who stood confidently with his guitar.
The music was soft on the ears and the talking calm while the majority of the crowd sat fairly still-- another rare scene at the Barrymore. As Leo Kottke metamorphosed back and forth from storytelling and full-out guitar playing, it was Kottke's universe that the crowd had entered. Telling a story with his guitar playing as well as he did with his banter, Kottke filled the ethereal Barrymore with honest glimpses into the life that is between acts. Joking about the nights that just don't seem to go right and blaming a sharp tuning on a little hand on his finger that was somehow pulling the string out of tune, Kottke, who is known to be off from time to time, was exceptionally on in the performance of his complicated guitar work and was quietly endearing as his thoughts blossomed with the crowd. After receiving a standing ovation, Kottke played a few more and vanished from the world he had temporarily created.

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