Village Underground presents HOWE GELB - 31st May - Giant Sand founder stripped back
This will be a unique chance to see Giant Sand founder Howe Gelb in the intimate surroundings of Village Underground. This stripped down solo show will be one of a kind.
Dubbed the "elder ambassador of desert rock", Howe Gelb carries a sound of wisdom along with his dusty rock-tuned Americana. Pairing along the ages with pre-eminent artists such as PJ Harvey, the diaphanous Isobel Campbell and more recently Lambchop's Kurt Wagner and KT Tunstall, Gelb has become a genre landmark by the means of redefining, possibly inventing, alternative country.
And just when you thought Gelb, nicknamed Giant Sand, couldn’t get any bigger, he has done just that by regrouping, expanding and magnifying his vision with the newest version of past ensembles, calling it (appropriately enough) GIANT GIANT SAND. With band members assembled over the years from Denmark, Spain and one with a full Canadian gospel choir, Gelb has gathered his diverse past to return to his Southwestern roots. As a sort of homage, he’s named the album Tucson after the town he’s called home for forty years. This self-described country rock opera by one of music’s leading risk-takers, is set to be released on June 11th, 2012 on Fire Records.
In GIANT GIANT SAND you will recognize six members, all hailing from Denmark, who have been a part of past incarnations of Giant Sand. In addition, you’ll be introduced to six new musicians from Howe Gelb’s native Tucson making their Giant Sand debuts.
The inspiration for assembling these collaborators (or cast if you will) for an album was the idea of a country rock opera, a vision that has followed Howe for decades.
Taking place in the town of Tucson , the story revolves around a “semi grizzled man with overt boyish naïveté” who sets off to escape his hometown and embarks on a life-changing road trip; eschewing all his worldly goods and leaving his girlfriend, encountering jail at the Mexican border, finding love at a train station saloon and fearing the end of the world. The album is a dusty work of art, conjuring images of the desert, rivers, and a cactus-strewn landscape.
The GIANT GIANT SAND lineup includes Brian Lopez, Gabriel Sulivan and Jon Villa who bring their Mexican-American heritage to the album with a permeating cumbia style of playing, drawing on African and South American traditional music. Joining them is a string section from Aarhus, Denmark (where coincidently the rest of Giant Sand are from) as well as an Aarhus-based violinist/violist named Iris Jakobsen, who coincidentally was born in Tucson. Fate could not have planned things any better.
He will be supported by the excellent Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards, whose solo project following Absentee quickly grew into him "fooling some of London's most talented players to join". Gelb will also be joined by Ned Collette whose forthcoming album is a mix of experimental pop songwriting, musique concrete and dark folky soundscapes. His current solo shows are performed with voice, nylon string guitar and samples.
Howe Gelbe plays Village Underground, London 31st May
Thursday 31st May 7.30pm
Past Praise for Giant Sand and Howe Gelb:
"Suffice it to say that Blurry Blue Mountain is a lovely, oddly charming record. And in the unlikely event that it doesn't move you,there's a whole heap of past glories waiting to be discovered." Uncut ****
"These artfully slouched barroom meditations on midlife maladies glow with a wry romanticism, warming like whiskey or Tom Waits on a sentimental tip." Independent
"Blurry Blue Mountain is as idiosyncratic as ever, pregnant with moments of mercurial magic." Mojo ****