German guitarist Ottmar Leibert has been performing modernized styles of classic flamenco with his band Luna Negra (Black Moon) for nearly three decades. Throughout his acclaimed career, Liebert has shared dozens of albums and recordings which have gone on to earn gold and platinum sales status in countries around the world. The guitarist now calls New Mexico his home, and recently released The Complete Santa Fe Sessions, an album comprised of ten new composition recordings which initially appeared on albums released between 1990-1995 in different forms. Cool right?
This fall Ottmar and his band will perform across the United States on a lengthy national tour set to begin tomorrow night (Sept. 1) in Las Vegas, and continuing until Nov. 18 with a show in The Woodlands, Texas. Before he hits the road on Saturday, here are some little-known facts about the German composer that you may not have known.
1. Rock and roll aspirations initially brought Leibert to the United States
Leibert was born in West Germany and spent much of his early life traveling the world with his parents. While he discovered flamenco music early on, he had actually aspired to stay in his native Germany and possibly go after a career in design and photography. He eventually came to the U.S. to pursue music, but it wasn’t going to be while playing flamenco. Liebert's first few years as an American musician were spent as a part of the mainstream rock scene in Boston throughout the 1980s before eventually relocating to the west coast.
2. Moving from Boston to New Mexico changed his musical journey forever
Following Leibert’s attempt at pop/rock stardom, he moved to New Mexico where the southwest region reignited his passion for older worldly musical styles, in addition to allowing the landscape to help define his musical moods. It was while he was living and creating in Santa Fe where he developed his Luna Negra band, recorded their first album and distributed the record in Native American art galleries, eventually opening the door to what would be his next musical journey.
3. Leibert enjoys biking and taking in the local scenery while on tour
National touring artists all take in their experience on the road differently. Some make sure to party their way through a tour, while others take a gentler approach to a busy life on the road. One of Leibert’s go-to leisure activities while touring from city to city include going on peaceful walks and scenic bike rides, according to an interview from 2017.
“I usually go for long walks,” he admitted last year. “I’ve had my foldable bike with me and have really enjoyed going around a couple of nearby lakes. That’s something I always look forward to, but I do not have my bike with me on this  trip, so I’ll just be walking around probably.”
4. Leibert completely disconnects from the world while recording in the studio
Similar to touring, all artists take different approaches when working on writing and recording new music in a studio environment. Leibert’s strategy, at least on his recent projects, is to cut out any distractions coming in from all the new technology that surrounds society on any given day. That also includes removing any element of measured time, as minutes and hours obviously play no part when it comes to creating music.
“My studio is really offline. I don’t have a phone line or cable and there’s no internet connection of any kind,” Leibert admitted in a recent interview. “When I’m there, it almost becomes this weird alternative time. I’m always surprised at how much time I’ve spent in there because there’s no clock either. It is sort of a haven away from all of the external noise.”
5. Prince was one of his biggest influences
As someone who has a very wide range of performing and writing styles, Leibert has surely been influenced by artists on both the global level in addition to popular American artists - one of whom was the late Prince. Leibert was influenced throughout his career so heavily by The Purple One, that he wrote and recorded the song “Elegy” in Prince’s honor just days after his passing back in April 2016.
“In addition to being a great songwriter, singer, dancer, performer, and producer, Prince was also one of the finest guitar players,” Leibert said in a 2017 interview. “How could one not be influenced by him!”