“Howe The Southwest Was Won”
It is pretty much impossible to talk about the Southwest indie music scene of the last couple of decades without referencing the enduring legacy and influence of Howe Gelb. Like Calvin Johnson of K Records in Olympia Washington (see interview here), Gelb has had his hand in the formation, support and/or cultivation of multiple artists and projects over the last three decades. He possesses an extensive resume of creative artistic collaborations (including one of my favorite albums of the 1990’s, his OP8 side project) and has performed with a myriad of other legendary musicians such as PJ Harvey, Neko Case, Calexico, Steve Wynn, Isobel Campbell and countless others. An extremely prolific musician, he has over 50 released albums under his belt, with no sign of slowing down soon. His lyricism and musical aesthetics, while diverse, have consistently contained a certain degree of stoicism combined with creative, improvisational playfulness that contributes to the uniqueness of his creative voice.
I had the pleasure of seeing Howe perform many years prior with Grant Lee Phillips (who has recently toured with Robyn Hitchcock, who also referenced Howe in our recent interview here…it’s a small world indeed!). He is clearly well respected amongst fans and his fellow musicians alike, with his name coming up frequently in our conversations with other musicians.
I’ve also been particularly intrigued by his ability to maintain a consistently successful D.I.Y. approach funding his projects. Howe has repeatedly taken a unique approach wherein he has retained long-term creative ownership of his albums by licensing the release of his music for a designated period, after which these rights revert back to him. However, the downside of this approach (for fans) is that his back catalog of releases has often been out of print and difficult to obtain. Luckily for all of us, this April Fire Records released the first of a series of Giant Sand vinyl box sets, in alphabetical order, with the remaining albums anticipated to be released in short order in the near future. As such, Giant Sand fans have the opportunity to pick up many of his out of print albums on vinyl for the first time in many years.
As a man of few words who isn’t typically prone to unnecessary exposition, Howe was gracious in sitting down with me to talk in length at the Don Quixote International Music Hall in Felton, California. Without further ado, we bring you our 23-minute interview with Howe:
For all of the latest info on Howe and his projects, check out www.giantsand.com.
Inner Edge Music