Howe Gelb

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Howe Gelb
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Howe Gelb has traveled many a long and dusty mile to get to his place of prominence as an “elder statesman” of freewheeling Americana and “erosion rock”—a brand of music changing with the elements on a daily basis as nature intended. As the front man of the Tucson band Giant Sand, he believed that continuous evolution should be a palpable element in music, as when songs were first handed over again and again, before the frozen capture of a recording studio.

In 1980, Gelb formed the post-punk band Giant Sandworms with his close friend Rainer Ptacek, the renowned slide guitarist and beloved Tucson icon. Rainer died from brain cancer in 1997, but his name is often mentioned in any conversation with Gelb. Giant Sand emerged in 1983 and released that group’s debut album, Valley of Rain, in 1985. In the thirty-plus years since, Gelb has released an estimated forty albums or so with Giant Sand. He is not sure of the exact number since his first releases were facilitated by handing out rough mixed cassettes to a touring band passing through Tucson in the early 1980s.

After thirty years of performing and touring with Giant Sand, Gelb announced the band’s retirement in early 2016. Gelb will release his new solo album, Future Standards, on November 25, 2016. This release takes an outsider’s view of early gospel and R&B, both part of the American musical socialization that he touched on in Sno Angel (2006). Now, he’s on a jazz-tinged trip, bending the genre and taking it back to his shack.
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By: Musical Instrument Museum - MIM

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