Can a 57-year-old acoustic guitarist be said to "shred?" Can he "kick massive ass with his ax?" Can he "wail?" If these terms can indeed be used, then it must be said that Leo Kottke is one shredding, wailing, ass-kicking folk guitarist. He's like Eddie Van Halen with an acoustic guitar -- OK, he's like Eddie Van Halen with a deep feel for melody, a sense of humor, a love of Americana, an appreciation for subtlety and tasteful hair.
With the recent passing of his only real rival, John Fahey, Kottke stands alone as the king of fingerpicking folk guitar. His new tour teams him with Mike Gordon, famous to smelly people as the bass player for the recently reunited Phish. Gordon's no slouch himself and proved his ability to keep up with Kottke on their recent joint effort, Clone. The album is a showcase of two great performers playing off each other, dueling with stunning skill and coming together to play as a two-man unit, with plenty of nods to their bluegrass, folk, country and blues roots. With Kottke's live appearances becoming increasingly rare and Gordon about to restart the eternal Phish tour, Friday's show at Mississippi Nights promises to be a unique opportunity to see two virtuosos trade hot licks and solos all night without getting a splitting headache. Lighters thrust in the air are strictly optional.