Archive for 2011-03


02011-03-18 @ 16:03

Came across this today by accident. Why should this information be kept private? I realize that it’s part of the language in the test ban treaty, but come on, that’s ridiculous. The public has a right to know. Air quality and radiation readings should be available everywhere! I imagine a website that any person can access to look at current readings across the country, and in fact the world. Could be something on the U.N. website, or a new project for Mr. Gates. would be a catchy and memorable URL. What do you think?

Radiation Reaches California: But Don’t Rush for the Iodide Tabs
Minuscule amounts of radiation – “about a billion times beneath levels that would be health threatening” – have been detected in Southern California, fallout from the developing nuclear disaster in Japan. The U.N. keeps many measuring stations throughout the world, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, which keeps all its test results private, detected radiation Friday in a California station. The diplomat who released the news asked for anonymity.

The CTBTO stations run by the U.N. are interesting, set up around the world to monitor atmospheric nuclear testing. Those that have capability to detect radionuclides are scattered throughout the world, from Tahiti to Sand Point, Alaska to Macquarie Island, south of New Zealand, to St. Johns, Newfoundland.


02011-03-18 @ 10:03

If you are on Twitter you can follow @ottmarliebert. But you don’t have to join Twitter to read my posts at

Santa Fe

02011-03-17 @ 22:03

DigiPak Outside:

DigiPak Inside:

Just the front:

Red and yellow are the colors of the New Mexican flag. Greg Gorman took the photographs of me in Forrest Moses’ house in 2002 or 2003. It was a wonderful photo shoot. Just the two of us and a bottle of wine. No assistants, no make-up person, and no record company people!

It is looking like we shouldn’t have any problems getting the CDs in time for the May tour. And we are still on course for a Summer release of this album by this company, although they will likely design a different cover and use a jewel case.

Orlando, second half

02011-03-17 @ 21:03
Audio MP3

You can download this file here.

This is the second half of the concert in Orlando on January 20th.

We had a trio rehearsal this morning, because Houman already flew to Germany to get his visa. If all goes well, he will join us in Riga on Sunday.

I might not have a lot of access to update this Journal in the next three weeks, but opened a new Twitter account to tell you about our journey as it unfolds. You don’t have to join Twitter to read my posts at If you are on Twitter you can follow @ottmarliebert. I have had a sleeper account (((meaning I have never posted there))) under an alias for a while and have been following the tragedy in Japan and the events in the Middle East via Twitter. I was impressed with the information I was able to glean. Much of it was of higher quality, and was spread faster, than what was available from the disgustingly sensationalist American news TV channels.

PS: Really, I can play that first piece, a duet with Houman, much better than that. Damn, I choked a few times that evening… I look forward to working on this piece with Houman during the coming weeks. Before this Journal comes to an end at the end of May I shall upload a much improved version.

Tour News

02011-03-17 @ 12:03

The concert in Trento was moved from April 5th to April 6th.
We are adding Chicago after Minneapolis in May. Details to follow.


02011-03-16 @ 22:03

Mrs Tsk *
I’ve spent the last couple of days split between watching the enormous crisis unfold up north and proofreading my Book of Japans. One of the central motifs of the book is the binary division of its 24 characters into 12 idiots and 12 experts, with a pivotal event — a major earthquake in Tokyo — making the idiots look like possible savants and the experts look, possibly, dumb.

Life continues to imitate art. Interesting post by Momus. Continue reading here.

PSFK » Pepsi Reveals World’s First 100% Plant-Based Bottle
Today, PepsiCo unveiled a breakthrough in bottle technology with the announcement of the world’s first petroleum-free plastic bottle in an effort to further reduce its carbon footprint by piloting production of the new bottle in 2012. The snack and soft drinks company will use raw materials such as switch grass, pine bark and corn husks, and has identified methods to create a molecular structure that is identical to polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, which is the plastic material used to produce a majority of bottles. The race to create a petroleum-free bottle was triggered in 2009 when Pepsi’s rival Coca-Cola unveiled a bottle that was 30 percent plant-based. Environmentalists have been critical of petroleum-based plastic because of their high carbon emissions and for being slow to biodegrade.

Pepsi said the new bottle will eventually allow for by-products from its food businesses, including potato peels from chips and orange peels from juice to be recycled into bottles. PepsiCo Chairman and CEO, Indra Nooyi adds the company will ultimately have “a sustainable business model that we believe brings to life the essence of Performance with Purpose.”

You see, that’s why corporations have to be pushed, by the people, the media and by the law, because at first they’ll whine that it is impossible and then they can come up with brilliant solutions like this one. This guitarist would never touch a Pepsi, but I tip my hat to PepsiCo and hope they’ll make a bundle on licensing their bottle tech to other companies.

Orlando, first half.

02011-03-16 @ 14:03
Audio MP3

You can download the file here.

Since Jon thinks this first show of our new 2011 Luna Negra quartet turned out pretty good and since Mark asked here is the first half of our Orland concert on January 20th – warts and all.

I will post the second half on Friday, and since I won’t take my laptop to Europe this time there won’t be many posts after that, until we return on April 9th. You can follow my photos from this journey here.


02011-03-15 @ 14:03

There will be two versions of the album Santa Fe for sale this year. It looks like Sommerset will manufacture and distribute the CD and it will be available in Target stores – as was/is Spanish Sun. We will also manufacture our own version, our usual Digi-Pak design, which will only be available at our concerts. This SSRI CD will not be digitally distributed and will not appear in our online store in any form. We are hoping to have the album with us on the East coast run in May – which, by the way, was extended to include Chicago. Details to follow.

Germany to shut down pre-1980 nuclear plants | Green Tech – CNET News
Germany will shut down all seven of its nuclear power plants that began operation before 1980 and it is unclear whether they will start up again, the government said today.
Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the closures under a nuclear policy moratorium imposed following Japan’s crisis, and said they would be carried out by government decree as no agreement with the plants’ operators had been reached.

I think there are anti-atomic power plant protests in France as well – and France has many of them.

Drink Link Tea Set by Joon Lee | Design Milk
Eindhoven-based designer Joon Lee looks to old artifacts when designing tableware that engages people to converse at the table. The “Drink Link” tea set consists of a teapot connected to its cups, directly linking every person to each other.

Was his inspiration a hookah?
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••» Blog Archive » FOMO and Social Media
FOMO —Fear of Missing Out— is a great motivator of human behavior, and I think a crucial key to understanding social software, and why it works the way it does. Many people have studied the game mechanics that keep people collecting things (points, trophies, check-ins, mayorships, kudos). Others have studied how the neurochemistry that keeps us checking Facebook every five minutes is similar to the neurochemistry fueling addiction.

Tom Waits and Neil Young! (photo)

Picture from Japan – Owner and Dog Reunited | Seattle DogSpot
“Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson

A six month journey along the 2,200 mile long Appalachian Trail, condensed and reinterpreted into five minutes of stop-motion. (Vimeo)

The video looks awful, I think, but that might be a walk I should take!!
Nice Rilke Quote

Book By Its Cover » Amy Cutler
Brooklyn-based artist Amy Cutler makes detailed narrative paintings that look like they belong in an old children’s fairy tale book. In most of her paintings the figures are usually women or some sort of hybrid women in a surreal scene. In Traction, women are pulling a house with their braided hair, like rope. In Egg Collection, the woman’s head is a basket full of eggs and some of the chickens have women’s heads.

Saw Amy Cutler’s paintings at Site Santa Fe. She uses Guache, which is a water-based paint, but while water-color is transparent, Guache is not. I think many of the old hand-written books pre-Gutenberg, for example the old bibles, were illustrated with Guache. Fabulous! I ended up buying the book that was on sale at the gallery. It is beautiful and very well made. The exhibit is up until 15. May and I highly recommend it if you should visit Santa Fe.

Friday Morning

02011-03-11 @ 09:03

For nearly twenty years Al Gore has spoken about Climate Change. Most people don’t seem to listen, especially politicians. Drought in Australia, then devastating flood a month ago. The earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, happened only a couple of weeks ago. Now Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan. Horrible devastation.

Will we simply continue? Will people go on as if nothing is happening, while allowing their policticans to continue to delay writing Climat Change legislature in order to please the large corporations?

This is what you can do right now:

The EPA is accepting comments on their New Source Performance Standards, a set of rules used to limit the global warming pollution from big fossil fuel industries like coal plants and petroleum refineries.
The big polluters will be pressuring the EPA to slow down the rulemaking process and issue weak, watered-down rules. The EPA needs to hear from you, too.

Tsunami hits Japan (YouTube)
Skyscrapers swaying (YouTube) – amazing feat of Japanese engineering.

The Atlantic (photos)
MSNBC Photoblog (photos)
BoingBoing (photos)

The end of News TV? How would I know, I don’t have TV…
Exhibit one
Exhibit two

I saw this yesterday. Very disturbing.

NYT and “torture”: Searching for a justification – Glenn Greenwald –
So according to The New York Times, it’s journalistically improper to call waterboarding “torture” — when done by the United States, but when Nazi Germany (or, more generally, China) does exactly the same thing, then it may be called “torture” repeatedly and without qualification. An organization which behaves this way may be called many things; “journalist” isn’t one of them.

We need a serious old-media shakeup. Or maybe they are just giving people what they want and what we need is a culture shakeup?

My thoughts are with the people in Japan. The aftershocks in the region continue to be more powerful than the devastating Haiti earthquake.

Wednesday Links

02011-03-09 @ 09:03

Handmade Portraits: Liberty Vintage Motorcycles (Vimeo)
Beautiful portrait and some of the things said really ring true.

Analog recording at its finest. The Nagra SN

Cool Brazilian light hack (YouTube)

Millions of Fish Die in Redondo Beach
Can you say Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of Balance.

In the Hopi language, the word Koyaanisqatsi means “crazy life, life in turmoil, life out of balance, life disintegrating, a state of life that calls for another way of living”.

Will people wake up?

Bicycle and Djembe (YouTube)

The Beginning of Something Wonderful (photo)


02011-03-09 @ 09:03

Yesterday I received an email with questions for an interview with Greek media. Here are the questions and my answers.

Ottmar Liebert Questions

Question: What do you see as the main changes in the development of your career from the time of your first demo recording?

On the technical side there was the change from analog recording to digital recording. On the business side there was my switch from indie label (Higher Octave Music) to major label (Epic Records/Sony Music) in 1992, and then to my own label SSRI in 2002.

Question: What have you found to be your more boring moments over the span of your career?

I don’t get bored. Waiting is part of every musician’s life. A few years ago I wrote an article about musicians for a magazine:

A professional musician will spend a good amount of his life waiting – for the start of the concert, for the boarding of the flight, for the bus to reach the next venue, for the recording to get finished, for the CDs to arrive in stores, and most importantly for a check to arrive, months or sometimes years later… Being able to wait is a difficult skill to master. Most people will get bored, but one skilled in waiting will not.

Question: I guess that music is your first love. Tell me some things about your second great love: photography. Do you prefer automatic cameras? What’s your opinion about Digital Photography?

I like digital cameras. One of the reasons I did not become a photographer was my dislike of the darkroom and in particular the smell of the chemicals. The best camera is the one that we carry with us. Sometimes that’s my Canon 5D, and sometimes that’s my iPhone.

Here is a video that shows me playing guitar and some of the images from a slideshow that often accompanies my solo perfomances:

I also have a photoblog:

and slideshows:

Question: What’s the secret of your success?

I have no idea, really. I think I write nice melodies, and my band creates a tight grove.

Question:Is music a code for international communication?

Absolutely. Music reaches across borders. I have listeners on every continent. I love instrumental music for that reason. There are no words that could get in the way. Instrumental music is like reading a book, while songs with lyrics are like watching a movie. What I mean by that is that a book requires the participation of the reader and instrumental music requires the participation of the listener. The reader has to imagine the tree that was discribed on the page – otherwise it is just words. The listener has to lend his imagination to the music, or it remains just notes…

Any song with lyrics, like a movie, requires no imagination… just acceptance. Everything is spelled out for the listener, or the viewer.

So you might say that instrumental music is an international code, a global language, and to speak it one has to allow one’s imagination to bloom.

Question: Your musical style combines the elements of Fusion, Flamenco and World Music. Do you identify your musical style with any particular term of art?

I think my music is some kind of fusion of many different styles. I think of my music as a brew in a large cauldron, full of different spices and foods.

Question: What’s your opinion about Miles Davis and his music? Tell me please some backstage information about your collaboration.

I did not collaborate with Miles Davis, but had the good fortune of opening for him at the Paramount theater in Seattle in 1990, which was a wonderful experience. I did, however, collaborate with Carlos Santana. We recorded a couple of songs for my album “Solo Para Ti” in 1992, and in 1996 my band opened for Santana for several months. Every night we would also perform with his band, which was very memorable.

Question: Do you consider yourself married to music?

No, I am “married” to life. But, music is my life, most of the time. I don’t consider music a career. Music is much more important to me than a career. A career is what happens because I live my (musical-)life.

Question: Do you see yourself as a symbol of “showbiz” or a typical music star?

My first record label demanded that I move to Los Angeles in 1990, but I refused. I live quite simply, in a small town called Santa Fe. I have been nominated for a Grammy five times, but chose to not attend any of the award ceremonies. I feel that’s for showbiz people or stars, but not for me.

Question: What do you know about Greece?

Not much. Like everyone I learned about Greek history in school, the Greek gods, the Iliad, Plato, Socrates, the mathematicians, and so on. I have only been to Greece once, when we played in Athens in 1996, and I regret to say I have never been to the Greek countryside and the seaside. I hope to travel there in the near future.

From the beginning of 2006 until the end of 2009 we had a Greek-America guitarist in the band. His name is Stephen Duros ( ) and he recorded a couple of very nice albums that SSRI ( ) released. Stephen’s great-grandparents were from Athens and had the name Pappanduros, but it was changed when they arrived in the USA.

Questions: What is your opinion about Greek women?

Unfortunately I don’t know very much about Greek women. Will you tell me?

Question: As a member of showbiz elite what would you change concerning a better tomorrow for everyone?

Peace, love and happiness, reduce, re-use, recycle, responsible stewartship of the eco-system…

Question: As a master of your art, what advice would you give to a young person who may want to enter the professional world of music?

Hm, I would ask whether they could consider a different profession? A musician’s life has become harder over the last two decades, I think. However, if music is what they love, then that is the path they should follow. The first advice I would give, is to start performing – recording can follow later.

Question: What is your opinion about reality and talent shows?

I have no opinion about them. I do not watch TV.

Question: What do you believe about the international financial crisis?

I am just a musician, not a financial expert. I have my own thoughts about the origins of the crisis, but this is not the place to get into that.

Question: How difficult is it to connect family and career in showbiz?

I don’t think it is very difficult. It is true that a musician has a life style that is different from most people, but we also have “down-time”, weeks between touring and recording projects that we can devote to family. You might say that rather than working during the day and spending evenings and weekends with family, we travel for weeks and then spend weeks with family. When I am home, I am home 100%.

Question: What are your main plans for the future?

In June SSRI will release my album “Santa Fe”. It’s a look back to some of our favorite music from the Nineties. We re-recorded songs like “Barcelona Nights”, “2 the Night”, “Santa Fe”, “Isla del Sol”, “Snakecharmer” and others. The album turned our great and was finished a month ago.

I also started work on music for two albums to be released in 2012, an album of new music with the band and a solo-guitar album.

PS: I should have insert WINNING! a few times, shouldn’t I?

10,000 Butterflies

02011-03-08 @ 12:03

That is the result of my first video edit. I combined a video of me playing “This Spring Release 10,000 Butterflies”, a song from the album One Guitar, with images from the slideshow that usually accompanies my solo performances.


02011-03-07 @ 11:03

Dancing Alone

02011-03-04 @ 15:03

Here is Dancing Alone, from Petals On the Path, as we played in on 21. January in Florida. I like the switches between the more R&B-ish backbeat and the rumba sections!

Audio MP3

Here is a screenshot to show you what this post looks like on my iPhone:

That little symbol to the right of the numbers “-3:54”, a triangle within a rectangle, is Apple’s Airplay switch. You will only see it IF your network contains one or more AirPort Express Wi-Fi base stations that connect to stereo systems. In my case it shows the option to play the above embedded track over three different stereos in the house plus the headphones I am wearing. I think Airplay is the greatest new option in iOS 4, because it allows streaming of any audio content (((including the audio in videos))) from any iOS device – iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad – to any AirPort Express stereo in the network. I imagine that will make for a nice listening party, where everyone who brings an iPhone can play their favorite track right through my speakers…


02011-03-04 @ 09:03

The NYT has an article on a new networking tool for artists, called FanTrail. I downloaded the app they created for the Roots, and it lived on my iPhone for less than a minute. Ugly app, but of course it was free for the Roots. Monetized – what an ugly word – with messages from Sponsors. I suppose that FanTreail matches sponsors with artists, e.g. Nike with the Roots, or perhaps they get scatter-shot to everyone. Anyway, the FAQ is interesting. Is this what fans want? Seems rather bizarre to me. Perhaps I am getting too old.
Bought a pair of inversion boots. So Seventies, right? I always enjoyed hanging upside down, and I have practiced head stands since I was fifteen. I don’t know why I waited until now to get these boots – I love ’em. I should buy a baby-blue tracksuit to wear with them… (I am kidding). But seriously, yesterday I hung from the rafters twice, like a bat, and did reverse squats (against gravity) and situps, and in the evening I just hung and let my spine decompress. The kninks I usually feel after sleeping were not there this morning and my back feels great.


02011-03-03 @ 16:03

The Cove released in Japanese for free online
Startup Claims It Can Sell Your Used MP3s Legally
(((I doubt it, but it might be fun to watch ’em try…)))
Lost at sea: On the trail of Moby-Duck
Photographs from Google Street View: art, journalism or something else altogether?
Related: The Nine Eyes of Google Street View
LetterMPress Kickstarter Project
Melting Smiley
Cotton prices at an alltime high:

Why Are Cotton Prices Increasing And Affecting Prices Of Denim Jeans And Other Apparel ?
This week, cotton futures prices topped $2.00 per pound. A year or so ago, the big debate in the cotton world was whether cotton could reach the history-setting level of a $1.00 per pound.


swissmiss | Communication Crisis
I have reached a personal communication crisis. Too many channels. Too many messages. Too much noise. Too much guilt.

Guilt? Not me, I simply delete most email I receive. Sometimes I leave email in my inbox for a few weeks… and then delete it.
Note from a friend:

I like to encourage my students to have a practice of some type. Many of them will say, “I meditate in the bath” or “I meditate while I clean the house.” It’s not that I don’t feel one can make these activities meditative; I’m just not sure that they’re appropriate substitutions for sitting meditation. I asked a Buddhist about this & the reply was that sitting meditation teaches you to be meditative in other activities. Just curious what your take is.

My reply:

Meditation is not thinking, it is also not not-thinking. Meditation is not sleeping, is not drowsing, is not relaxing. Meditation is not a passive state, it is active.

In my opinion one might increase one’s awareness while doing things such as cleaning the house, doing the dishes, taking a walk and so on, but it is categorically NOT meditation. Meditation is a single activity, not an overlay one can add to other activities.

Of course it is great when people increase their awareness – especially while handling sharp objects, cars or powertools! – but increasing awareness is not meditation. One does not make activities meditative… but one can bring more awareness to these activities. Sitting meditation teaches a person to be more aware in other activities, but one does not become more meditative in other activities.

La Luna 2004

02011-03-02 @ 15:03

Boulder Theater 2004, with Robby Rothschild and Ron Wagner.


02011-03-02 @ 14:03

Using a new method to embed video. This video should not auto-start and should be viewable on Flash-enabled browsers as well as non-Flash browsers, e.g. iOS mobile devices. We are making changes to the embedded audio files as well and the music in this post should now play in mobile devices also.

Question : Answer

02011-03-02 @ 10:03

Mark Says: March 1st, 2011 at 09:56:
I was just wondering about any new OL music to come out?
I thought I read something about putting a cd together but havent heard any updates.
I am eager to hear new music. Unlike some bands that yes the first album was great anything else after is just okay, your music has a different feel on every cd. I always look ahead for new music from you. Maybe even a book with your photos and a cd :)
Thank you for all you do

Thank you, Mark. The album I just finished is a partially re-recorded, completely re-mixed and newly re-mastered version of The Santa Fe Sessions. The album will be called “Santa Fe” and the cover might look something like this:

Many of the songs have new electric bass guitar parts from Jon, and he recorded a lot of new keyboards (old analog beauties like Fender Rhodes as well as some synthesizer) as well. There are new cajon and djembe parts by Robby Rothschild and cajon and dumbek by Houman Orei. The sequence will look like this:

01 Barcelona Nights
02 Isla del Sol
03 2 the Night
04 Dancing Under the Moon
05 Heart Still/Beating
06 Reaching Out 2 U
07 Santa Fe
08 Borrasca
09 Turkish Night
10 La Rosa Negra
11 Havana Club
12 Snakecharmer
13 Morning Arrival in Goa

The album is a little over 70 minutes long. Everyone who has heard this new album agrees that it sounds much better than The Santa Fe Sessions. That album was solid, but I always thought that it sounded, well, less exciting than others. I am happy that I had the chance to revisit it and improve it greatly. I feel that this is the ultimate collection of music from my Nineties.

The album will be released by the Summer, and will perhaps even be ready for the May tour. But, that depends on how the office is progressing with the licenses. I am the writer of all of the music, but the publishing is controlled by R2M (formerly Higher Octave Publishing) or Sony and so licenses have to be obtained for every track.

The album will most likely released by Sommerset, who released the Spanish Sun CD a couple of years ago, or we could release it through SSRI. If Sommerset releases the album, we will not sell the CD or downloads through our website, but we will be able to sell the CD on tour. If SSRI releases the album, I have decided that the CD will contain all 13 tracks as above, but the download album will only contain 12, minus Mornng Arrival in Goa (((which turned out to be a gorgeous piece!!))) – which still amounts to over 63 minutes of music.

I hope to know more within a couple of weeks, before we leave for Europe. The production master is done and is awaiting shipping to the CD manufacturer.

This month I started working on new music for two albums, a new Luna Negra album and a new solo guitar album. I doubt that either of them will be ready in 2011. The band album will most likely be released in Spring of 2012 and the solo guitar album might be ready for Fall 2012 or Spring 2013. The solo guitar album will be avaiable in two flavors. A regular CD and download album, perhaps called One Guitar Two, and a double CD in a Metal Box that might have the sub-title Organic and Processed, or something like that. CD#1 will contain the same music as the regular CD release, and CD#2 will contain Jon Gagan’s processed, re-worked, take-it-apart-and-put-it-back-together version of CD#1. Allowed: stretch, shorten, sample, loop, filter and so on. Not allowed: adding any other instrument…

A book of photos would be nice, but makes no sense. Very few photographers make any money from books, in fact many have to pay to have their books published since the cost of quality printing is so high. Those books are vanity projects or calling cards. Since I am not a professional photographer I am not interested in spending money I can’t recover. I considered using Kickstarter to finance a self-published book of photos, but don’t believe there would be enough interest to make that work… I think the slideshows that accompany my solo concerts are a very nice showcase of my photography and allow me to do things I could not do in a book, like mixing video with still images. Perhaps I can film a solo concert one day and put together a live DVD (((ideally the disc would contain two or three visual layers that the viewer could switch between: my guitar performance, the slideshow and perhaps a version of both side by side))). Or perhaps it would make sense to add a DVD to the One Guitar Two metal box, that contains a slideshow in addition to the album music.


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