HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Entertainment » Music Appreciation (Group) » Leo Kottke has a birthday...

Wed Sep 11, 2019, 08:39 AM

Leo Kottke has a birthday today.

2 replies, 172 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 2 replies Author Time Post
Reply Leo Kottke has a birthday today. (Original post)
Dyedinthewoolliberal Sep 11 OP
world wide wally Sep 11 #1
mahatmakanejeeves Sep 11 #2

Response to Dyedinthewoolliberal (Original post)

Wed Sep 11, 2019, 09:30 AM

1. One of the greatest acoustic guitar players ever.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Dyedinthewoolliberal (Original post)

Wed Sep 11, 2019, 09:44 AM

2. Thanks. I had forgotten about that.

Last edited Wed Sep 11, 2019, 10:16 AM - Edit history (1)

That's John Fahey's album, on the Takoma label. I bought my copy of that album at a thrift store years ago. By "album," I mean an LP, of course.

Here's an obit of John Fahey, written by the much-missed Eddie Dean for the Washington City Paper. Eddie Dean is still alive, but his byline is gone from the WCP.

In Memory of Blind Thomas of Old Takoma

John Fahey, 1939-2001

EDDIE DEAN MAR 9, 2001 12 AM Tweet Share
John Fahey, 1939-2001

The first time I talked to John Fahey, he was in no mood for an interview. My long-distance phone call was keeping the Takoma Park transplant from dishwashing chores at the Salem, Ore., shelter where he lived in the early '90s. ... I told him I was writing a story on bluesman Skip James. I wanted to know more about how he'd scoured the Delta for James—a ghost beckoning from battered old 78s Fahey heard as a teen in D.C.—before finding him in a Mississippi hospital bed in 1964.

Fahey seemed perturbed that James was the subject of my piece instead of him. I couldn't much blame him. After all, Byron Coley's 1994 Spin story on Fahey had just been published—a profile that would ultimately resurrect the guitarist's career, much in the same way that Fahey's "discovery" of James and other forgotten bluesmen gave them a second chance and a new audience during the '60s blues revival. For now, though, Fahey was just another down-and-outer with kitchen duties at the Union Charity Mission: not the best place for a warm chat about the good ol' days. Even so, I was hoping to hear a stirring anecdote or two about the wide-eyed acolyte meeting the wise old master.

When it was his turn to be rediscovered, Fahey seized the opportunity, and his second career proved far more fruitful than James', who succumbed to cancer in 1969. In the brief span before his own death, at 61, on Feb. 22, Fahey effectively established his legacy on his own terms, not only as a performer but as a writer and a record-label owner; in whatever guise, he remained a staunch champion of the music that had changed his life back in the '50s. (For the best single collection of his writings, see How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life, his memoir of rants and reminiscences.) As much as any single person, Fahey advanced a persuasive case that the blues, jazz, and hillbilly performers of the '20s and '30s created the most vital and enduring American music of the past century.

Isolation, self-imposed or not, was central to Fahey's art, epitomized in his chosen form: the solo guitar. The sense of exile and alienation was what he identified with in his heroes, loners such as Patton, restless revenants doomed to drift forever in a universe beyond their comprehension. In his memoir, Fahey described attending a Hank Williams show during one of local promoter Connie B. Gay's riverboat excursions, which plied the Potomac from D.C. upriver to Maryland. Williams showed up drunk and berated the audience: "Why don't y'all go straight to hell?" Fahey was hoping to hear his favorite Hank song, "The Singing Waterfall," but instead Williams played "Alone and Forsaken," in Fahey's words, "the most distressing desolation song" ever written.

"Even though he's living in the desert and life is hell without her and hears wild dogs and senses the coming of the Apocalypse," Fahey wrote, "he sang 'Oh where has she gone to, where can she be/She may be forsaken by another like me.' Hank is worried about her! This sentiment I have never heard anyone else sing....After the downriver show was over the boat stopped at Marshall Hall Amusement Park and dropped anchor for a couple of hours. My friends and I knew we couldn't get backstage to see Hank. We were too young. So we walked ashore and went looking for girls." CP

A funeral service was held for Fahey in Salem, Ore., on Friday, March 2, two days after his 62nd birthday.

The Cosmos Club
Turtle sex, chiropractic death, and peyote under the pillow:a year-by-year account of American primitive guitar


From harmless service organizations to election-rigging worldwide conspiracies, every secret society worth its shadowy rep cultivates an air not only of exclusivity but also of mysticism. Record collectors are typically thought of as irascible loners, but in the Washington of the ’50s and early ’60s, there existed a group of scruffy young blues and folk fans who could’ve given the Illuminati a run for their all-seeing eyes. They thought of themselves as the guardians of a tradition the rest of the world had either forgotten or misinterpreted. They adopted fake names. They invented strange mythologies. They hatched plans to bring their favorite historical figures back from the dead—or at least back from the commercial oblivion to which the music biz had consigned them.

But most of all, they inspired admiration and awe. Though they never used the term themselves, this bunch of vintage-78 obsessives was known by others as the East Coast Blues Mafia. “There was a loose collective among the enthusiasts and collectors known as the Thong Club,” recalls Gene Rosenthal, founder of Silver Spring’s Adelphi Records. “We would wear these leather thongs around a finger and our wrists. To be a member, another member would have to put a leather thong on you. [John] Fahey put mine on. We would wear them until they were stinky and scuzzy.”

Fahey remains the most well-known member of the club: the great, tragic player whose elegant fusion of blues, country, and folk he called “American primitive guitar.” If the style has a defining moment, it might be when the Takoma Park resident and his friend and fellow 78 collector Dick Spottswood returned from a 1956 record-hunting trip to Baltimore with a copy of Blind Willie Johnson’s “Praise God I’m Satisfied.” Having grown up listening to bluegrass, Fahey was freaked out by the intensity of the blues—and couldn’t get it out of his head. Later that day, after the 17-year-old guitarist and his friend parted, a haunted Fahey called Spottswood and insisted that he play Johnson’s song for him over the phone.

In 1959, Fahey went to the Frederick, Md., home of Joe Bussard, another collector who ran his own label, Fonotone. There, singing and playing into a single microphone, he recorded some tracks under the bluesy pseudonym of Blind Thomas. Bussard recalls that the session “was recorded between 2 and 4 a.m.—it took him that time to get a little loose, get the booze in him.” That same year, Fahey made his first full album, Blind Joe Death. He pressed up 100, maybe 150, copies himself and sold them from the Langley Park gas station where he worked. The set was reissued on his own Takoma Records in 1964, just in time for such exploratory tracks as “In Christ There Is No East or West” and “The Transcendental Waterfall” to seem pre-psychedelic.

John Fahey

Fahey was one of the most acclaimed fingerpickers of his generation, with a love of the blues so intense he was driven to track down several of his musical idols in various forgotten corners of the country. Shortly after Fahey’s birth, his family moved from Washington, D.C., to Takoma Park, Md., which figured prominently in the personal mythology he detailed in the liner notes to his albums. The turtles the 11-year-old and his friends threw at the windshields of passing cars on Piney Branch Road and Philadelphia Avenue would reappear as a theme in his work, possibly representing memories of childhood sexual abuse. As a teenager, Fahey often played alongside Sligo Creek, which he commemorated in song as the Sligo River. His unique style was influenced not only by the records that he and his Thong Club friends doggedly tracked down but also by a fishing-trip meeting with Frank Hovington, a black singer and guitarist whose playing inspired Fahey to buy his own guitar from the Sears-Roebuck catalog for $17.


Takoma releases Leo Kottke’s debut studio album, 6- and 12-String Guitar. The Minneapolis guitarist’s playing is more dexterous and less dissonant than Fahey’s. The release eventually sells more than 500,000 copies, making it the most popular in the label’s catalog and helping Kottke earn a major-label deal.

Leo Kottke's version is on Greenhouse, an outstanding album.

"In Christ There Is No East Or West" taught by John Fahey

Published on Dec 15, 2009

The late great John Fahey (aka Blind Joe Death) teaches his version of "In Christ There Is No East Or West." From the DVD "The Guitar Of John Fahey (Vol. One)." More info at http://www.guitarvideos.com/products/guitar-workshop-instructional-dvds/the-guitar-of-john-fahey-vol-1

But enough John Fahey. Here's Leo:

Vaseline machine gun CNN

Published on Nov 25, 2012

Leo Kottke in 1997 on top of a New York building playing Vaseline machine gun after an interview about his (then) latest release Standing in my shoes.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread