“William Powell” was written in 1989 and originally released on the recording My Father’s Face (Private Music 2050-2-P). In 1995 it appeared on Leo Kottke Live (Private Music 0100582132-2), recorded at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO. It has been a mainstay of Kottke’s performances repertoire for the past thirty years.
This transcription was developed principally from documentary video recorded on July 28, 1996, with comparative analysis of video recordings made between 1990 and 2019.
Leo Kottke’s technique is loaded with nuance, and that, of course, is what makes his sound so distinctive. You may have noticed Kottke’s unusual right-hand position: his thumb seems to be extended toward the fingerboard a little more than usual. With this thumb position, he is able to control the duration of a bass note — to stop it by muting the string with the side of his thumb after it has been played. And this technique is a distinctive and recognizable feature of his sound — one that is not explicitly notated in either standard notation or tablature. This is, nonetheless, an important part of the rhythmicality of this composition.