Archive for 2001-10

Art Therapy

02001-10-31 @ 01:10

Art is a form of therapy. Sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in the human situation. – Graham Greene

Home Again

02001-10-30 @ 01:10

Home again after over 5 weeks on the road.
On Saturday morning we arrived in Santa Fe from Chicago.

This was undoubtably one of the harder tours…it seems that we were constantly following disaster….when we were in Pompano Beach they had just found Anthrax in nearby Palm Beach….when we stayed in Trenton, NJ for a day, we heard on the news that the Anthrax letters had been sent from the Trenton Post Office….and the night before we were to roll into Manhattan our drivers heard a rumor that cannisters of anthrax had been found on Brooklyn Bridge that day – I was up very early in the morning and watched CNN for an hour to find out whether there was any truth to the rumor, which proved to be totally false of course…..we left at 9 am and took the bridge to Manhattan figuring that it would be prudent to have 3 hours to get to B.B.Kings in Times Square with all of the road blocks and searches….instead we arrived in Manhattan at 10am already and had to search for a spot to park the one bus we had brought….at least we were smart enough to leave the other bus in NewJersey for the day…..

When we were in Detroit the sirens started blaring as we started our show to indicate that a tornado was near. The wind became so strong in fact that it rained onstage- and this was an indoor theater!!! We had to stop for about 15 minutes because my guitars were getting wet and we wanted to make sure that Jon Gagan would NOT get electrocuted by his electric bass.

That’s why we jokingly refer to this latest tour as the disaster tour……

The band sounded great during these last weeks and I am hopeful that the live recording for the Echoes radioshow in Harrisburg turned out beautiful.
During the tour I started sketching out ideas for the next show, whenever that might happen… will be quite different from the shows of the last few years and I am quite excited about this brand new concept…..


02001-10-24 @ 01:10

2002 is the first year of the rest of my career. It is a new beginning. This is the new stuff, this is my own deal and SSRI is my own record company. Now the buck stops here.

The first album to be released in March of 2002 by SSRI will be a solo album. It will be called: In the Arms of Love: Lullabies 4 Children + Adults
It is a quiet album without percussion and with lots of guitars. Relaxing, but not boring. Mellow yet engaging. A beautiful mind trip.
I played all of the instruments with the occassional synth played by Jon Gagan or Gary Lyons.

The second album will be released in June of 2002 under the name: FIESTA!
It will contain re-recordings of earlier songs (from 1990-1996) and some new material. The reasons for re-recording some of my earlier songs are these:
1. The improved sound quality overall. The new digitall equipment is SO much better than what I had to use a decade ago. It is amazing to hear comparisons!!!
2. I would like to show you how some of the songs have evolved over the years… the result of countless live performances!
3. To create 5.1 Surround Sound albums new and higher quality recordings are absolutely necessary.
4. I am sure my former record companies will release more compilation CDs and I would rather create a new compilation like this.
5. To re-record my songs means to own the recordings at last. All other masters are owned by Higher Octave and Epic Records.
6. To be able to use these melodies for new editions of EUPHORIA.

Here is a list of songs we have been recording for FIESTA!:
La Rosa Negra/Borrasca
Isla Del Sol
Heart Still/Beating
2 The Night
Reaching Out 2 U
Havana Club
Morning Arrival in Goa (New Bossa Nova Version)
Barcelona Nights
Dancing under the Moon
Turkish Night
Plus some new and yet untitled stuff…..


02001-10-19 @ 01:10

Tonight’s show in Westhampton Beach was great. It was fun. It seemed effordless. It felt wonderful. The whole band sounded superb. I have been proud of all the shows on this tour, and it will be exciting to try to outdo this ‘Little Wing’ show.

I have some ideas already. I think the next incarnation of Luna Negra will be a quartet w Jon on bass + synth, Mark on cajon, udu + other percussion, Michael on dumbek, bongos etc.

Best and Worst

02001-10-10 @ 01:10

We are in Atlanta, Georgia today. Here is my report on the venues we have encountered so far.

Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida.
Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples, Florida.
Florida Theater in Jacksonville, Florida.
Majestic Theater in San Antonio, Texas.

All of the above are wonderful facilities and great sounding halls with wonderful audiences. Clearwater has the edge because of the best catering of this tour so far. Naples had the best artwork of any hall.

The Abraham Chavez Auditorium in El Paso was very nice. The audience was fantastic. The exterior of the hall was being renovated.

Formerly a highlight of our tours the Pompano Beach Amphitheater is getting worse and worse backstage. The city needs to invest some money here. Paint is peeling of the seats, there is only one dirty toilet and one shower and the catering sucks.

Stubbs in Austin came highly recommended by other bands but I think not having a single toilet for the band and crew is not acceptable. I don’t mind having to use the public toilet, but I do mind having to wait in line when I am supposed to start performing in a few minutes.

Earthlink Live in Atlanta. Leaky faucets and soggy carpet backstage.

Electric Guitar

02001-10-09 @ 01:10

I have never in my life felt very comfortable with an electric guitar. Even when I was playing electric guitar in a Rock band in Boston I did not really feel comfortable with it. Until this Summer!!

Jon Gagan suggested I should play the electric guitar without a pick, the way I play the Flamenco guitar. And that made all the difference. I seem to be able to get more colors from the strings and playing the guitar feels much more comfortable.


02001-10-08 @ 01:10

Some people love fancy orchids and I admit that orchids are a marvel.

Some people are into roses (I prefer the ones that also smell wonderful – what’s the point of a pretty rose that doesn’t smell?).

Others admire cacti and I can see why……but me, I like trees.

Give me any old tree and I’ll go on and on about it. I love the high desert piñon in New Mexico. I love oak, ash and maple. I love the Californian Redwoods, the marvelous Mangroves in Florida and I can’t wait to see a really old Bristle Cone Pine Tree in Utah or Nevada….some are over 5,000 years old! I love gnarly olive trees and wish I could grow some in Santa Fe. I love those tall pine trees in Italy with all of the branches cut off except the top so they provide shade and yet leave room for people gathering or playing Boccia beneath.

In February I bought a little box at Urban Outfitters, a Bonzai kit with Japanese Maple seeds. By now I have four maples that are between 6 inches and two feet tall. I don’t have the heart to turn them into little Bonzai trees. Instead I will put them in larger pots next spring and will slowly get them used to the outside. I’ll find them a spot without a lot of wind and not much direct sun and will plant them there.

I think I love trees because by nature I am not a patient man and the trees, they teach me patience.

Luna Negra

02001-10-07 @ 23:10

I have heard from a few people that there is some confusion about a couple of things:

1. Who is Luna Negra and 2. What are those “hearing Aids” everybody in the band is wearing?

Allow me to explain. No, Luna Negra is NOT the opening act and you are NOT getting ripped off because it says on the ticket Ottmar Liebert + Luna Negra and where is Luna Negra, I didn’t see an opening act……. We have been touring since the release of the album Nouveau Flamenco in 1990, and my band has always been called LUNA NEGRA. Most album covers actually say OTTMAR LIEBERT + LUNA NEGRA. The exceptions are: Euphoria because those are all remixes, and Leaning into the Night because we used an orchestra instead of the band. Luna Negra has been a trio and has been as large as a nine-piece in 1997. The name LUNA NEGRA was inspired by a poem by Federico Garcia Lorca I read in 1989. The poem talks about the spurs of the highwaymen gleaming in the light of the black moon.

Hearing Aids: what you see everyone in the band wearing are not hearing aids. They are in-ear monitors. I am not exactly sure about the history of the in-ear monitors, but believe the Grateful Dead were the first to use them in the early nineties. I believe a company called FutureSonics might have been the first to offer them. We started using them in 1994 when we decided to record a live album. You see, until the in-ear monitors became available everyone had to use wedges, big monitor speakers that cluttered up the stage and created sonic havoc with the mix of the music. In order to hear my guitar over the loud drums I used to have two such wedges in front of me. Of course they “bled” back into my guitar microphone and that made the sound of my guitar a lot worse. This of course would also make it much harder to record a band live, because instead of recording the pure sound of the guitar one would record the sound of the monitor wedge amplifying the guitar as well as the guitar itself. Does that make sense?

I hope I am explaining this well enough. Another advantage of the in-ear monitors is that they are in stereo. We intruduced in-ear monitors to my friend Eric Schermerhorn when he performed with us at the Beacon Theater in New York as a special guest guitarist and he instantly fell in love with them. Carlos Santana made fun of our in-ear monitors in 1996, saying that they were like having phone sex instead of the real thing, but was impressed when my monitor engineer showed him what we heard on stage.

Last, but not least the in-ear monitors take up very little space and we can take them anywhere. Instead of carrying between 1 and 2 monitor wedges plus amplifiers per musician on our truck or hoping that the local promoter would supply good monitors, we can fit all of the little monitor amps in one little case. We use ones made by SHURE. They look like little Walkman devices and we wear them on our belts or in my case it is attached to my chair. Mark wears a wireless version so that can move freely between his percussion set-up and the cajon. These little SHURE monitor amps are wonderful because in the mid-nineties we needed a rackmounted amp plus a rackmounted limiter per musician – the limiter does just that – it limits the sound that reaches our ears. If something should break or feed back it makes sure that our ears don’t get damaged. That meant we had to carry one or two heavy racks which were over the airline limit of 70 pounds.

Here is a funny story regarding in-ear monitors:

I heard about a travelling broadway production that used a lot of wireless in-ear monitors for their performers. In order that the sweat of the singers wouldn’t get into the little amplifiers they had to wear concealed under loose clothing or in a belt – they pulled condoms over the packs to shield them from the moisture. I bet some eyebrows were raised when a person had to buy new supplies while on the road and bought 40 packs of condoms……..


02001-10-06 @ 23:10


This beautiful latin phrase on U.S. coins means OUT OF MANY ONE……..

And it means integration…..socially, musically, philosophically and in every other way…

Yes, we must cherish tradition and history and yet we also must try to find ways to make the past fit into our TODAY…..the ancient and the modern, the old and the new, it needs to come together, not stay separated. Our thinking needs to be updated yearly, weekly, daily. We need to interpret and re-interpret the world and how we fit in it. Was the discovery that the Earth was one planet of many in the universe – instead of a lone flat disc – the end of society and religion? No, people simply had to adjust and newly integrate their understanding of the universe and religion.

This integration is an endless process. Any success will be only temporary and the next hurdle will be just around the corner.

As Frank Howell told me once: the moment you stop learning you begin to die…..

And when you stop integrating you calcify, you turn into stone……Like the petrified trees on the side of the highway in Arizona……

Pompano Beach

02001-10-05 @ 23:10

Tonight we played at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater in Pompano Beach, Florida. Nice audience as always here in Pompano, but I must say the facility is falling apart. There is only one dirty toilet that has to be shared by the local crew, our crew and the band – everybody. There is also only one shower. And today someone from the local promoter’s crew forgot some of the parts for the motor that pulls the lighting rig up… a result we had to put our lights on the stage floor and our lighting designer had to spend an additional three hours reprogramming all of the lights to light upward instead of downward. And since there was no light from above we could not see well onstage and were being blinded by the light in front of us. I have no idea how the show looked from the audience point of view.

Wow, tonight was work, not play. Everybody in the band was giving it their all, but it was very difficult….and it certainly did not help that catering was awful today. I am telling you, if a situation is difficult but you’ve had a nice meal, maybe a glass of wine to wash it down with, you can nevertheless gather strength and make the best of it. If the local caterer’s idea of a cheese sandwich is a few slices of Kraft singles on a dry piece of white bread… are going to run out of inspiration, you know what I mean? I am glad that tonight’s show is over and look forward to playing in Clearwater tomorrow night. The Ruth Eckard Hall is beautiful and the catering rocks because they use Schmooze Inc…….

Maxwell King Center

02001-10-04 @ 23:10

This Morning I found the following note pinned on an announcement board in the Maxwell King Center in Melbourne, Florida:

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where the thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There is also a negative side – Hunter S. Thompson.


02001-10-03 @ 23:10

I saw a great commercial for music education in school on TV the other day. Paid for in part by Folger’s coffee. Beautifully put together it explained the advantages of teaching music to children in plain and convincing English. Congrats to Folger’s for doing that……whatever we think of their coffee…. : )
Hm, we are definitely watching way too much TV these days……


02001-10-02 @ 23:10

I watched an interview with Afghan men on TV yesterday. They were being asked by a reporter why they were bringing opium to the West when the Koran didn’t allow drugs. The answer was something to the effect that it was complicated but that if the money they got for the opium was used against the non-believers then it was OK. Then one man was asked whether he would blow up a schoolbus if they were aked to. He answered that if the scholars told him to do that he would. The men kept referring to the Koran and to the islamic scholars that interpreted it for him. I kept wanting the reporter to ask the men whether they could read, because I got the sense that these men could not read the Koran themselves, but rather depended on the interpretation of a scholar. This reminded me of how the catholic church for the longest time spoke latin and the catholic priests were the interpreters that were the link between the Bible and the people. Without the ability to read there can be no freedom…..


02001-10-01 @ 23:10

We have never before watched this much CNN. It seems the TV on the bus is on almost 24/7. The first person back on the bus after our show will turn on CNN. No partying – just disussing the events and trying to wrap our minds around it.


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