by Ann M. Colford and Mike Corrigan

Okay, for all the guitar purists out there, let's get one thing straight -- Ottmar Liebert doesn't play traditional flamenco music. In fact, the title of his first album, Nouveau Flamenco, was meant as something of a joke, sort of a musical takeoff on Nouveau Cuisine. But his pop-infused blend of musical and cultural influences caught on with fans of adult contemporary instrumental music, and the 1990 album went platinum. Soon the music marketers applied the album's title to the whole sub-genre of guitarists playing Spanish- and Moorish-flavored originals, and artists like Strunz & amp; Farah and the Gipsy Kings were lumped together under the Nouveau Flamenco umbrella along with Liebert.

While critics derided the style as flamenco-lite, Liebert went about perfecting his craft, fusing influences from across southern Europe, South America and the East into a pleasant m & eacute;lange. Sometimes spirited, like the bouncy "Barcelona Nights," and sometimes moody, as in the dreamy "Flowers of Romance," Liebert's music engages listeners and invites them along on an emotional, imaginative journey. In a self-described "rant" online, Liebert talks about capturing the ears of listeners with notes rather than words.

"Instrumental music is to vocal song what a book is to the movie," he writes. "In order to get the picture from instrumental music, the listener has to invest something, has to let the music resonate within him, has to flesh out the mood the music portrays, just as a reader has to fill the words with life. Without that imagination, a book is just words and the music is just notes."

Not only does Liebert's music cross international boundaries, but he is also a walking testament to multiculturalism. Born in Cologne, Germany, to a Chinese-German father and a Hungarian mother, Liebert first picked up the guitar at 11. By 18, he had completed a course in classical guitar, so he took off for a year traveling across Asia. He returned to Germany briefly then made his way to Boston, where he worked as a bike messenger by day while playing in rock and jazz-funk bands by night. In the mid-'80s, he moved to Santa Fe, where his love for flamenco guitar blossomed.

"I wanted to look at my music and my life with open eyes and ears and see where I really wanted to go, and I realized I had never been as comfortable with an electric guitar as I was with a nylon-stringed guitar," explains Liebert. "I love the intensity of flamenco, but I always knew that I wasn't interested in traditional flamenco. I was interested in how I could combine that with the Bossa Nova and everything else -- rock, jazz, classical -- into a different thing, a more personal thing. I wanted to make it part of the whole soup that is today."

Liebert brings his musical soup to the Met on Monday with his long-time collaborators, Luna Negra. Their newest release, The Santa Fe Sessions (Higher Octave), has the guitarist revisiting and reinterpreting favorites from his earlier albums, and many of the updated arrangements have found their way onto the playlists of his current tour dates. Whether the tunes are new or newly reinvented, Liebert's playing is bound to deliver a sure return on your investment.

Dont Nede No Edukashun -- If you thought laser light shows went the way of the carrier pigeon back in the days when Ozzy was still at least partially menacing, you'd be wrong. For proof, head out to Wild Waters Waterslide Park in Coeur d'Alene this weekend as the folks out there unveil their latest and perhaps most amusing toy. With no qualms whatsoever about mixing such seemingly disparate activities as light show-augmented rock music appreciation and hot tubbing, Wild Waters (together with Rock 94.5) presents the Pink Floyd Laser Light Show. Pink Floyd and waterslides? British art rock a la hot tub? Lasers and an impressive assortment of snacks? By the gods of prog rock, why not?

In an effort to deliver further on their promise to provide something fun for everyone, Wild Waters is supplying late boomers and early X-ers the kind of entertainment they've been clamoring for. And so, in addition to the acres of waterslides, tube rides, pools, snack bars, arcades, grassy picnic areas and water toy ponds, the water park now features a giant hot tub (dubbed "The Big Soak") and the entertainment to go along with it, thanks to a new sound system and laser show. That's right, the kiddie rules will go down the drain as the adults settle in for a hot tub party that will include barbecuin', water slidin', beer drinkin', cavortin' and the high-intensity sights and high-decibel sounds of Laser Floyd. Thursday and Saturday's laser show will be set to the Floyd classic Dark Side of the Moon, while Saturday night's show will be set to the paranoid sounds of The Wall.

Roger Waters at Wild Waters? It's so wacky it just might work.

The park will be open at 6:30 for swimming and sliding. The laser show will start at dusk.

Other Wild Waters laser extravaganzas scheduled for this summer include a patriotic laser light show (July 1-2), a country western show (July 8-9 and July 15-16), a Beatles show (July 22-23 and July 29-30), a Led Zeppelin show (Aug. 5-6) and an oldies show (Aug. 12-13 and Aug. 19-20).

Publication date: 06/26/03

Open Studio at The Hive @ The Hive

Wednesdays, 4-7 p.m. Continues through Feb. 22
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