Over the past handful of summers, German-born, New Mexico-nurtured flamenco-style guitarist Ottmar Liebert has included Tucson on his dead-of-summer tours.
He usually gets here in June or July, but this year his name blazes the Rialto Theatre marquee for an August date.
He comes here today after he and his Luna Negra band loaded their tour bus in Sante Fe and headed to Denver before circling back for a gig in Alto, New Mexico. We get him seven dates into his grueling West Coast summer tour, which covers 27 shows in 23 cities through Aug. 31.
“I really don’t understand why so many people prefer to fly on tour,” he said just hours before getting on the bus. “It takes longer. You spend so much time getting through all the checks and everything. After a show, I get on the bus and wake up the next morning somewhere else. It’s perfect.”
Liebert’s show this time around will focus on his two just-released albums: The all-acoustic “Bare Wood: 2002-2012” and the electrified “Three-Oh-Five,” an album with very bluesy tones, flamenco accents and pronounced nods to 1970s funk and soul.
“That was one of the really influential times for me. The first concert I ever went to was in 1975, and it was Earth, Wind and Fire opening for Santana,” Liebert recalled.
“Can you imagine Earth, Wind and Fire let loose on a largely unsuspecting audience? I’ve never seen an opening act do two encores; it just doesn’t happen. But they did.”
“Bare Wood” gave Liebert a chance to erase the electric elements of songs he had written and recorded between 2002 and 2012 and recast them in their acoustic purity.
“It’s basically only three instruments. My flamenco guitar, which was made in 2002; Jon’s Gagan’s German upright bass, that was probably made in 1902. … And then a cajón.”
At his concert, we all hear “these two slightly different sounds and … it’s nice to hear both,” Liebert said, referring to the new albums. “You get this really organic, more traditional sound in the first half, and the second half we will do all sorts of other things.”
He also will perform material from his considerable catalog, which spans 25 years and at least 25 albums.