Sometimes small truths put life in perspective and help us get through the day. For Leo Kottke, who played a smoking concert at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix last night, the title remark was his concert opening.
Leo Kottke has been at the fringe of my musical attention for many years, but I never had an obvious and realistic opportunity to see him play in person. Let’s face it – going to a concert these days is an assault on the senses. It seems most venues continually find ways to amplify music to the point of hearing oblivion, with lights and flashes to amplify the pain to the infinite level. I don’t appreciate walking out of a concert not being able to hear for three days afterwards. That said, thank god for performers like Leo Kottke, and venues like the MIM, to bring music back to the level where it can be experienced and appreciated in full resonance, enhancing your mind instead of crushing it in your body.
There is something magical in finding a lone musician on stage, instruments at the ready, plying the craft and producing a personal experience. Back in the day, in Jersey (New Jersey), my high school friends and I would find ways to get tickets to performers at the Capital Theater in Passaic, NJ. It was a triple X theater by day, so you can imagine parental reaction to that factoid. It was there that we saw Melanie, Jackson Brown, New Orleans, Elvis Costello, among others. But it was in that creaky, stale-smelling old theater that I learned the appreciation of listening to musicians tell and sing their stories, with music being the main attraction, in what could idealogically be described as an elegant and intimate space.
I am sure that there are other modern venues like the MIM throughout the country. My hats off to them, because it’s that experience that will keep real music alive, at least in my life.
And thank you, Leo Kottke, for helping to keep these venues viable. Enjoyed the performance. And that “song from the 60’s” you hadn’t played in a while but played last night – it was my favorite of the evening. To quote a former boss of mine, if the past memory is bad, go back and change the memory to the present.
Life is good.