August 4, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 31
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Tuesday, Jul 14, 2020



Leo Kottke gets warm reception from family-filled Zoo Tunes audience
Leo Kottke gets warm reception from family-filled Zoo Tunes audience
by Lorelei Quenzer - SGN A&E Writer

Leo Kottke
July 23 @ Washington Mutual Zoo Tunes

It's over 94 degrees and I can't believe poor Leo Kottke has to stand in the full sun and perform for us. The WaMu Zoo Tunes show is technically sold out, but there are a mysterious number of tickets still available at the box office. Methinks some folks stuck their heads out their doors and said, collectively, "Are you kidding me?" There's plenty of shade, especially for those of us who came early, but the crowds start to pack in together about 15 minutes before the show's start, squeezing into the meager acreage between neighbors who are already too close for comfort.

How hot is it? As the virtuoso guitarist Kottke begins with an instrumental on his 6-string, the 1-year-old in front of me starts to disrobe, taking off his overalls and refusing the shorts his mom offers in favor of his diaper and flimsy t-shirt. He's fair and, from what I can tell, flammable. His mom is trying to corral his 4-year old brother, and dad is apparently too exhausted to stir from his lounge chair; he barely raises his eyes from his book. I'm thinking: There are a lot of men in this crowd who need to put their aloha shirts back on.

Kottke looks up from his guitar and thanks the crew and staff of the Zoo for protecting his equipment from the heat. "They take great care of you," he claims, saying they've done everything for him, including getting him a dorky hat from the concessions stand. Everything, that is, "except building a roof from the stage to the trees." The audience roars in approval: hey, WaMu, how about kicking in for a sun shelter over the lawn?

Kottke launches into "Pamela Brown" as Diaper Boy begins to unlace his father's sneakers; the infant then tries to unlace daddy's chair. Boy, will I laugh when his seat collapses and he finally has to put down his novel. Kottke spins a yarn about the next song, "Snorkel"; it was inspired by an incident in an Australian hotel when he duct taped over the bathtub's overflow valve. Now all I can think of is sitting in a tub of cool water. Thanks for reminding me how hot it is, Leo!

Most of Kottke's music reminds me of water, actually. His fingers flow smoothly over the strings, like a trickle from the tap to a torrent of sound. He plays a Pete Seeger song, "Living in the Country," moving neatly into "In the Bleak Midwinter" as he changes to his 12-string guitar. Dad is learning to hone his bargaining skills: mom has taken Diaper Boy off to the children's tent for an activity and now he's got to convince his 4-year-old to sit down. I imagine his conversation might provoke a visit from CPS should it be overheard.

After another instrumental Kottke plays the crowd favorite, "From Pizza Towers to Defeat," then announces he'll play one more song before taking a break. Kottke's playing an extra-long set because his partner on the bill, Leon Redbone, had to cancel. "I have dreams where I come back and you don't," Kottke cautions the audience. But he has nothing to fear: we're not moving an inch until it's at least 10 degrees cooler.

After a brief 15-minute intermission - hardly time enough to drink a liter of water - Kottke's back with two more instrumentals and the song "Twice." But honestly, I'm a little distracted by the 4-year-old who has decided to snatch tufts of grass from the dry lawn and fling them over his head to catch in the wind. Daddy can't convince him that his neighbors don't really want to eat the grass, as it floats over our picnic dinners, and there's a glint of desperation in his eyes as he searches the crowd for mommy. I'd be laughing out loud if I wasn't already choking on sod.

Kottke plays three - or four, I can't keep track thanks to Grass Boy - more songs, including "Running Up the Stairs" and "The Collins Missile." Then he thanks the hat concession and the audience "for your company on a hot Seattle day." Mom returns with Diaper Boy, who has a hard time getting daddy's attention; he wants to show off the brown bag he decorated at the craft tent. When Kottke leaves the stage we leap to our feet& well, creak to our feet with thunderous applause. He returns with his guitar and graciously sings "Corrina, Corrina" for his encore.

Diaper Boy is off towards the carousel, sans parent, and it's time to pant home to that bathtub. Maybe I'll duct tape over my overflow and really cool off.

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