Leo Kottke

“It’s all about taking in the atmosphere. I’m going to be playing and answering questions. I want everybody to have a good time though at the end of the day, and we’re laying out plenty of opportunities for that.”

Acoustic guitarist Leo Kottke was born in Athens, Georgia, but left town after a year and a half. Raised in 12 different states, he absorbed a variety of musical influences as a child, flirting with both violin and trombone, before abandoning Stravinsky for the guitar at age 11.

Kottke’s 1971 major-label debut, “Mudlark,” positioned him somewhat uneasily in the singer/songwriter vein, despite his own wishes to remain an instrumental performer. Still, despite arguments with label heads as well as with Bruce, Kottke flourished during his tenure on Capitol, as records like 1972′s “Greenhouse” and 1973′s live “My Feet Are Smiling” and “Ice Water” found him branching out with guest musicians and honing his guitar technique.

With 1975′s Chewing Pine, Kottke reached the U.S. Top 30 for the second time; he also gained an international following thanks to his continuing tours in Europe and Australia.

His collaboration with Phish bassist Mike Gordon, “Clone,” caught audiences’ attention in 2002. Kottke and Gordon followed with a recording in the Bahamas called “Sixty Six Steps,” produced by Leo’s old friend and Prince producer David Z.

Kottke has been awarded two Grammy nominations; a Doctorate in Music Performance by the Peck School of Music at the U of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; and a Certificate of Significant Achievement in Not Playing the Trombone from the U of Texas at Brownsville with Texas Southmost College.


David Hidalgo, Steve Berlin & Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos

“I personally like the teaching aspect too. It’s something that I’ve had experience with, and I enjoy getting the chance to interact with fans one-on-one. That’s one of the aspects of the Dunk Tank that I’m looking forward to. Feel free to ask questions about anything. That’s what I’m here for!” -STEVE BERLIN

One of the most acclaimed American bands of the 1980s and ’90s, Los Lobos were seasoned musical veterans with nearly 15 years of experience under their belts when they scored their first hit in 1987 with a cover of Richie Valens’ “La Bamba.” The group, who enjoyed calling themselves “just another band from East L.A.” — won over critics and a legion of loyal fans with their mixture of rock, blues, Tex-Mex, country, R&B, and Mexican folk sounds, with the band’s sound ranging from gentle acoustic ballads to the outer limits of experimental rock. While often cited as one of the great bands of Latino Rock, Los Lobos’ eclectic sound, in fact, defined them as a vital example of America’s cultural melting pot. The band also has several Grammy wins and a nomination under their belt with wins for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1995 and Best Mexican-American/Tejano Music Performance in 1989 & 1983. As well as a nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 2011.

A rare example of longevity in a volatile music world that stresses style over substance, Los Lobos’ lineup has remained uninterrupted since 1984 when Steve Berlin joined original members Louie Pérez, David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas and Conrad Lozano, each of whom had been there since the beginning in 1973.

John Stropes

“I’ll have some of the direct transcriptions to your favorite Leo Kottke songs there. I want to bring people closer to his music, and you’ll be able to see how everything is correctly played and I’ll help along the way. We’ve got everything clearly laid out and ready for you.”

John Stropes is a leading authority on finger-style guitar. Through the historical research, analysis, transcription, teaching and performance of finger-style guitar, he has brought focus to this style as a significant American music. His publishing company, Stropes Editions, Ltd., has set a new standard for written music for the guitar and guitar education. Stropes was president of the Milwaukee Classical Guitar Society, 1985-1996 and artistic director of the American Finger-Style Guitar Festivals, 1985, 1987 and 1989, which were funded in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. He performed and taught at the First Chinese Guitar Artistic Festival in the People’s Republic of China in 1986 and returned to China in 1988 and 1990 to perform and teach with a performance at Beijing’s Symphony Hall broadcast on Chinese television. He was an advisor to the Beijing Guitar Research Association. chair of the Guitar Department, Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, 1984-1994, author of Michael Hedges/Rhythm, Sonority, Silence; Leo Kottke/Eight Songs; 20th Century Masters of Finger-Style Guitar and John Fahey’s Guitar Christmas Book. Stropes is the author of numerous transcriptions of contemporary works for finger-style guitar and related instructional materials and a frequent contributor to guitar publications.

David Balakrishnan

David Balakrishnan (violin, baritone violin) graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in music composition and violin and earned a masters degree in music composition at Antioch University West.

The Turtle Island founder developed a revolutionary compositional style – based on the principle of stylistic integration applied to bowed string instruments – that has earned him two Grammy nominations (in the instrumental arrangement category, for his string quartet adaptations of Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night In Tunisa,” and the jazz ballad “You’ve Changed,” featuring clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera) as well as numerous composing grants, both from private sources such as conductor Marin Alsop, who commissioned his piece for violin and orchestra, “Little Mouse Jumps,” as well as national service organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts and Meet The Composer foundations. In 2005 he received an MTC/ASOL “Music Alive” three-year extended residency with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, for which he is composing six orchestral works.

The NCO also commissioned Balakrishnan’s composition “Darkness Dreaming,” which premiered in April 2004 with guitarists Sharon Isbin and John Jorgenson. His piece, “Spider Dreams” (1992), has been widely performed and recorded throughout the world by a diverse array of musical organizations, including a live recording by Turtle Island with the Detroit Symphony conducted by Neeme Järvi on Chandos Records.

A 2002 commission awarded by a consortium of presenters headed by the Lied Center of Kansas City resulted in a string octet entitled “Mara’s Garden Of False Delights,” which is featured on Turtle Island’s Grammy-winning Telarc release, “4+Four.” His most recent commission is again from the Lied Center, who received a Creative Campus grant from the Duke Foundation, for which Balakrishnan is composing a full-length work involving theatre, dance, poetry, video, and Turtle Island with the KU wind ensemble that is an artistic response to the social issues concerning the various theories of evolution, both scientific and cultural, entitled “The Tree Of Life.”