Posted by: slartibartifast | October 13, 2009

Fav Five- Acoustic Guitarists

When I worked at a university in Southern California I instituted a small social exchange game to amuse the small department of ten of us- The Fav Five. It’s a simple enough concept. Just list your Favorite Five items/people of whatever category is called for. I was trying to use this game as a device to stimulate some idea and personal history exchange among us.

So, I’m doing it here, too.

This category is my favorite five acoustic guitarists:

1. Leo Kottke– My all time runaway favorite for over 35 years, since I heard about him from my brother-in-law, in about 1972. I bought 6 & 12 String Guitar in about ‘72 or ‘73. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen him live…somewhere around 12-13 concerts. I never tire of his stories, music or sense of humor. One of the few people I don’t know personally (although I DID shake hands with him in Eugene, Oregon, about six years ago) who I will cry for when he dies. Phenomenal talent.

2. Michael Hedges– I first saw him as opening act before a Kottke concert in San Diego around 1986. I had never heard his music before then, but was so knocked out I started collecting his albums right away. His music is amazing enough to listen to on a recording, but to see him live was stunning. He did things with a guitar that I would have said were impossible. The single coolest thing I ever saw at a concert was when Michael did his version of the Beatles’ Come Together and assigned three vocal parts to the audience and had us do them on cue. I did cry when I learned he had died in an auto accident in 1997, although I didn’t learn of it until 2002. He had some kind of psychic control of a guitar; no single human could have played a guitar like he did, even though I saw him do it. Seeing Michael and Leo Kottke together twice at the open-air theater on Mission Bay, in San Diego, were truly the most entertaining concerts I ever went to.

3. Steven Stills– I love his playing ability as much as I do his song writing ability. I’ve seen him live 6 or 7 times in some combination form of CSN & Y. I once saw him at the dedication of an Indian Reservation outlet shopping complex east of San Diego in 1998 (for FREE, no less, because I got comped an entrance from a cigar store manager I knew in the center) when I sat about 15 feet away from him, on a one foot raised stage. Great talent.

4. America (Dewey Bunnell & Gerry Beckley)- Just something I love about their playing and writing makes something resonate inside me. I’ve seen ‘em twice in San Diego and once here in Corvallis, Oregon, (at the county fair, no less). Despite having several Top Ten songs over the years, I think they get underrated/forgotten in Pop/Rock music circles. When we saw them live I was surprised at the number of their songs I loved over the years.

5. My friend Chris Mickle- nobody worked harder or wanted it more than Chris to become a guitarist and performer. I had the luxury of seeing him go from zero to wonderful over the years he was playing. There are a handful of songs, like Old Man and Heart of Gold by Neil Young, that I can only hear Chris doing in my head, not Neil Young. Success, and even fame, are such luck based events. I always thought Chris deserved much more than he got out of the music performing biz.

Now it’s your turn to list your Fav Five in the same category and something about why they are. Have fun.



  1. interesting !

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