Ottmar Liebert puts a Southwest border-country spin on “nouveau” flamenco. - Photo courtesy of Joe Mozdzen

Ottmar Liebert plays the Rogue Theatre

Ottmar Liebert's new album, "Dune," released in May, is filled with the haunting, Southwest border-country flamenco for which the acoustic guitarist and his band, Luna Negra, have become known.

Here, acoustic guitar mixes with electric, as well as Gypsy accordion, electric bass, handclapping, funky box-drumming and percussion. The album delivers a distinct beauty that is uniquely Liebert's "nouveau" style.

"I wanted to play guitar melodies that sounded sung," Liebert says in a news release. "For some reason, I kept thinking about old jazz and pop crooners. So I sang almost every melody first and then figured out how to play it on guitar."

"Dune" features Liebert on acoustic and electric guitars, Jon Gagan on acoustic upright bass, electric bass and keys, Char Rothschild on accordion and Robby Rothschild and Chris Steele on percussion.

Liebert and his band will perform at 8 p.m. Monday, July 30, at the Rogue Theatre, 143 S.E. H St., Grants Pass.

Liebert's first incarnation of Luna Negra formed in 1989, and the group's debut album was self-produced as "Marita: Shadows and Storms." Copies of the CD were sold at Frank Howell Gallery in Santa Fe, N.M. When the recording found its way to radio stations and generated buzz among programmers — along with an exceptional response from listeners — Higher Octave Music picked it up and released a fully remastered version, retitled "Nouveau Flamenco," in 1990.

"Nouveau" eventually sold double-platinum in the United States. Liebert has since recorded 13 gold- or platinum-selling albums, five of which have been nominated for Grammy Awards.

Liebert was born in 1959 in Cologne, Germany, where he began classical training at age 12 at a music conservatory.

"On Saturdays, I'd watch a television program out of Hamburg, called 'Beat Club,' " Liebert says during a telephone interview. "There were live performances by everyone from Hendrix to Black Sabbath. I knew I wanted to play guitar. I also knew I couldn't play electric because I lived with my parents in an apartment.

"The first time I heard flamenco was on an LP I found in a supermarket when I was 16. Later, I heard Latin and American jazz fusion by Al Di Meola and Spanish flamenco by Paco de Lucía."

Liebert also was 16 before he acquired an electric guitar and began traveling across Europe, the former Soviet Union and Asia.

"I played music with all kinds of people I met," Liebert says. "There was always a party here or there. The music of the time, at least in Asia, was stuff like Earth, Wind & Fire, Steve Miller ... a lot of R&B."

He says while visiting India, he used a classical tremelo technique to play sitar.

"People were flabbergasted with the sound. One of the advantages of traveling solo is that there's no one to remind you of who you are. You can grow in any direction you like."

In 1979, Liebert left Germany to move to the U.S.

"A lot of the music that I loved was from the States," he says. "Earth, Wind & Fire, Miles Davis and Santana."

Liebert settled in Santa Fe in 1986, looking for a new musical sound.

"I enjoyed the sensation of playing with nylon strings again, and I started studying with a traditional flamenco master."

For a while, Liebert was happy playing in clubs and cafes in Santa Fe. One of his first gigs was opening for Davis in 1990 in Seattle.

Tickets for the show at the Rogue Theatre cost $38 and $48 for reserved seating, $33 for general admission. Tickets are available at www.roguetheatre.com, by calling 541-471-1316 or at the door.

Share This Story