Halsey, the Next Generation - In Which Zach Meets Leo Kottke

Zach Halsey & Leo Kottke (Photo by Deadra Key)

Letter from Austin: In 2005 I wrote about Doug Halsey, a music enthusiast and humorist who had a special love for the music of Leo Kottke. I met both Doug and Dave Curtis at Earlham College where we all worked together at the college radio station, WECI-FM. We loved inspiring each other with great musical finds and marathon sessions of Name That Tune.

Doug was already into Kottke by the time we met in the early 70's. I remember that when we first received My Feet Are Smiling (live album, 1973), Doug put it on for us right there in the station, imitating Kottke in the first song, "Hear the Wind Howl" where he's playing a mile a minute, then says "I don't have a tempo."

Listen to "Hear the Wind Howl"

Speaking of Kottke's voice, Dave recalls that Doug "would always put on that crazy Kottke imitation (that low drawl) and say "now, what I'm gonna do" -- which I guess Leo may have said on a live recording or something..." Cancer took Doug way too soon, but not before he passed on his love of music to his son Zach (now in college). This week Deadra (now remarried), sent the following remarkable story of seeing Kottke in Austin, and how she met Doug.

I bought tickets for Zach and me to see Leo this past Friday night at the Paramount Theatre in Austin. Zach knew that Leo was Doug's favorite and I wanted to show him why. A few days before the concert, I sent an email to Kottke's booking agency (the only email address I could find on his website). I told him the story of how Doug and I met.

In case you didn't know, I had placed an ad in Boston Magazine (this was before EHarmony ...yes way before the internet even existed!). The only letter I answered was the one Doug sent me and the ONLY reason I answered it was because he mentioned Kottke (My college roommate had introduced me to his music at KU). So to make a long story short, Zach wouldn't be here if it wasnt for Kottke!!!

To my complete surprise, Leo sent me a response. He invited us backstage after the show. I also sent him an excerpt from the piece Bill wrote for the WECI neewsletter after Doug's death:

Doug's love of music never wavered throughout his life; he was partial to artists such as Little Feat, John Hiatt, Bruce Cockburn, early Genesis, and Julia Fordham. Doug played acoustic guitar and held a special appreciation for guitar players such as Alan Holdsworth and Sonny Landreth, but his all time favorite artist throughout his life, to whom he introduced many WECI staffers and listeners, was acoustic guitar master Leo Kottke. As recently as the summer of 2004 when Doug, Dave Curtis (Class of '75 and former WECI Station Manager) and I met in Chicago, Doug brought along the latest Leo Kottke cd for us to hear.

So we met Leo after the show and he couldn't have been nicer. He was very touched by the "love story". Zach told him that he just had to meet him because his dad would be really "pissed off" if he hadn't taken advantage of the great opportunity (and we all know that to be an understatement). Leo even followed up with an email the next day after the show saying how touched he was by our story and how nice it was to meet us both. A real class act...

Thank you Deadra for sharing, I'm sure that brought Doug a smile. There are certain artists that will always cause Dave and me to think of Doug. I went to see Kottke in 2010 at McCarter Theater in Princeton and it felt like Doug was there in spirit. Kottke was amazing; the guitar, the deep voice, the sense of humor, and lots of stories from his long career. Before we close, here is Kottke doing one of Doug's favorite guitar tunes, "Airproofing".


Bev said…
When we met Doug in Chicago in 2002, outside of Wrigley Field, he was quick to boast that he chose seats so that we could enjoy the game while sitting in the direct sun, midday, with the temperature registering 90+ degrees. When Doug liked something, or someone musical, there was no discussion in which you'd have a chance to sway his opinion; all you could do was agree and let him have his way. It was fun to yank his chains, but it was also a hoot to hear the passion in his voice and to see his face light up.
Sara said…
Absolutely love Leo Kottke, who is solely responsible for my love affair with the 12-string guitar.

What a wonderful story!

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