Imagine a man with 6 arms, and 8 fingers on each hand. Now stick this man in a room with a pair of acoustic guitars for 5 years and periodically play some Mississippi John Hurt and John Fahey and even some Buddy Holly. Then turn off the music and drop a microphone into the room. What kind of music do you think he would make? It probably wouldn't be all that different from Leo Kottke's, except Leo manages (somehow) to do it with only 10 fingers, split up into only two hands playing a single guitar.
Leo's music is both inspiring and maddening. You can listen to Simon and Garfunkel sing and think it's only one voice; you can listen to Leo Kottke play the guitar and swear there's four of him. He finger-picks his textured country-blues-folk licks with a godlike deftness in which each note is meaningless, but the stream of notes glides past you tangibly like autumn leaves. Of course, he can play slow too: listen some of his sweeter tunes and you'll be able to hear the subtle treatment he gives each note.
He sings too, although he is quoted as saying that his voice sounds like "geese farting on a muggy day"
Leo has struggled through a lot of physical adversity in his career. He has been partially deaf in both ears since before he began recording; his left ear damaged by a firecracker when he was a child, his right ear damaged at a firing range when he was in the Naval Reserve. Also, Transitional Man tells me to mention that he suffered acute tendonitis in the early 1980's, which permanently affected his playing style.
I have recently had the pleasure of seeing Leo perform live. He is great on stage, somewhat quiet and good-natured. Recently Leo has been recording and performing with Phish bassist Mike Gordon, earning Leo a huge new "phan" base in the wake of Phish's dissolution. They make a great duo, especially because Mike Gordon is such an experienced jam-rocker who can improvise without interfering with Leo's unique style.
(not all of which are still in print
Discography from allmusic.com