He’s a German who, after a trip to the far east, somehow ended up as a flamenco guitar player. He’s Ottmar Liebert, and if you haven’t heard his music, you ought to.
Liebert’s road to success has been a winding one. One that started when he was just 19 and on a train.
“In Moscow I went on the Trans Siberian Train to then the East Coast of the then Soviet Union," he said. "From there I took a boat to Japan, and then continued there to Taiwan, Honk Kong, Thailand.”
On that year-long journey he realized music held a special power.
“Instrumental music expression just goes across all language barriers and borders,” he said.
After being blown away by a Carlos Santana concert, he decided to move to the US. Years later, Liebert toured with Santana, who would call him back out onto the stage to play with him.
“I had to pinch myself," Liebert said. "This is going all the way back to when I was 15 or 16 and went to my first concert.”
Now Liebert is coming to San Antonio’s newly re-opened Aztec Theater on July 31, and here’s what he has planned:
“We play two sets and (the first is) just upright bass, the cajón and flamenco guitar,” he said.
A cajón is a boxy-looking drum.
“And then for the second set we perform pieces with a hybrid drum kit and electric base guitars and the occasional electric guitar bit, but mostly flamenco guitar,” said Liebert.
I was surprised Liebert credits jazz trumpeter Miles Davis as an influence.
“He stretched the label 'jazz' in every direction; perhaps as far as anybody has,” he said.
And like Davis, Liebert has found his own way.
“The shows just seem to go by in a blink of an eye; we have such a good time,” he said.