A few months following the release of his new album “Fete,” Grammy nominated contemporary flamenco guitarist Ottmar Liebert will play his first-ever concert at the Lobero Theatre on Sept. 15.
Performing a mix of new and old songs with his trio Luna Negra, which also consists of bassist Jon Gagan and drummer Chris Steele, Mr. Liebert will present his fans an a slightly different take on his new material, one they won’t be able to experience just by listening to the new album on his bandcamp.com page.
Originally from Cologne, Germany, Mr. Liebert first took up guitar at the age of 11 and first encountered flamenco music around the time he first started taking lessons. As he recalled, however, “The call of the louder, electric guitar was strong” and for many years he played in rock bands, first in Germany, and then in Boston, MA.
The switch to nylon string guitar began when he drove a van for a friend of his who was moving to Santa Fe, NM, the city in which Mr. Liebert currently resides. His friend had a Spanish guitar that although cheap, was such a joy to play that it reminded him of the flamenco songs he heard when he first took up guitar. It forever changed his musical trajectory and in 1989, Mr. Liebert founded the first incarnation of Luna Negra.
Unlike many modern artists who insist on reproducing the sound of their records by utilizing backing tracks to fill out their band’s sound, Mr. Liebert follows an ethos as a recording artist and live performer similar to that of the 70s rock bands he used to listen to: Rearranging songs for live performances.
“It was such a joy to hear bands play their stuff and do it different,” he recalled.
For him, changing up songs for live gigs is necessary because there’s no way to recreate the album versions of his songs with only three musicians. Speaking of his 1990 debut album “Nouveau Flamenco,” Mr. Liebert said the record had so many overdubbed guitar parts that recreating it in a live setting would have required several other guitarists. Not one to limit himself in the studio, reconfiguring songs for concerts is preferable to only recording what can be played by three people.
“To me, it’s not something that I want to hamper me when I’m recording, so it’s not something I think about much,” he said.
After releasing his 2016 album “Slow,” a record that he made entirely on his own with music that “lives up to its name,” the guitarist decided to do what he does with each successive recording and go for a new sound. This time, it entailed going in the opposite direction musically.
“I wanted after that to do something more joyful and upbeat,” he said.
Although he plays with flamenco techniques and Spanish influence is apparent in his music, Mr. Liebert doesn’t view what he does as strictly flamenco. The easiest way to describe it he said was a “flamenco hybrid,” though he added that traditional flamenco is itself also a hybrid of many different kinds of music. In 2015, he made this point with his “Waiting n Swan” album, which seamlessly combined tangos and classic reggae music to show how a great deal of the flamenco sound is influenced by Caribbean music.
Despite being a guitar player, when asked which guitarists have influenced his playing, Mr. Liebert surprisingly said that he is “not that interested,” in guitarists. Though he said he does admire rock guitar players like Jeff Beck and Carlos Santana, they’re not particularly influential on his playing and he actually prefers listening to trumpeters and singers, as he views what they do as more “natural.” Tickets for Mr. Liebert’s September 15 performance at the Lobero Theatre can be purchased at www.lobero.org. The Lobero Theatere is located at 33 E Canon Perdido St. and the concert will begin at 7 p.m.