Black Moon Rising Plus More Zen

P.D. Kelley

Ottmar Liebert and his band Luna Negra thrilled the Rogue Theatre house on September 16th with a mix of Latin, pop, jazz, and so called “Nouveau Flamenco”. The band itself is fluid and kind of like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: you never know who will be on stage or how many or what kind of instruments will be supporting Liebert’s classical guitar. This night it was Jon Gagen on bass and Chris Steele on drums. This trio was absolutely mesmerizing and here’s one reason why. Every musician on the stage is a consummate artist in his own right. Gagen has several albums under his guitar strap and is a gifted composer and arranger. His bass line sometimes provided the traditional rumbling background and sometimes came to the forefront for a sound that was both supportive and stunning. Chris Steele has played on an album or toured with everyone from Kenny Burrell to Barry Manilow to the Glenn Miller Orchestra. He has a Bachelor’s in Classical Percussion and a Masters in Jazz Studies and is simply the best percussionist I have ever seen perform live. He has all the bells and whistles on his set and is fascinating to watch. Liebert sat in the middle of these two, barefoot, with clean-shaven face and head in the simplest of shirt and pants. Sometimes a gentle smile would appear as he appreciated the talents of Gagen and Steele and he was generous in sharing the spotlight. And a true joy to listen to. Wonderful melodies and rhythms emerged from his guitar, mellow at times, sometimes robust and surprising, always in tune with the other players with smooth, seemingly effortless transitions. Not so effortless from a physical standpoint. He requested a bucket of ice at the end of the show to soak his fingers in. The best make it look easy and pay the price. Thanks, Rogue Theatre for bringing such a class act to Grants Pass.

Next up on September 25th is the newly birthed Magpie Salute. Former Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson put together the band last October along with former BC bandmates Marc Ford and Sven Pipien. I checked them out on You Tube and there should be a host of other talented musicians on stage, some of whom Black Crowe fans will recognize. This is classic rock and roll and it brought me back to my 60’s roots. They’ve played to sold out shows and have had success with their eponymous first album which came out in June of this year. Put your money down now for a show that promises some great fun for rockers of all ages.

Catch you on the flip side. . .