Monthly Archives: November 2011

Report: Sting Live in Los Angeles

 

November 28 at
the Wiltern, it was Back To Bass time for the erstwhile Police-man.

 

By
Jose Martinez

 

At
this stage in my fogeydom, nothing makes me feel and look like a youngster more
than going to a classic rock concert, in this case, Sting. And while Sting’s
fans haven’t aged as gracefully as the 60-year-old musician, who, performing
the first of three sold out intimate dates at the Wiltern, looked too damn fit
in his tight jeans and equally tight t-shirt revealing quite the buff physique.
That’s just wrong. The man indeed has it all.

 

Currently
on his Back to Bass Tour, celebrating 25 years as a solo artist, Sting, along
with his extremely tight five-piece band, went for the back to basics approach
playing on a no-frills stage sans a fancy light show and tired concert antics.

 

 

Before
taking the stage, a single spotlight shun over Sting’s microphone on the
darkened dais. Indeed, there was no denying whom the man of the hour would be
once the show started. And when the concert began, Sting didn’t share the
spotlight with anyone, as even the drummer was off to the side instead of
playing directly behind the singer.

 

With
impressive, spot-on vocals, Sting was in fine form during his two-hour set.
Celebrating 25 years as a solo artist, it was interesting how many Police songs
filled the set list. Sting’s song selection touched upon all of his work, but
it would have been more interesting perhaps had he focused on his early solo
material, which hasn’t been played in years. Some songs were welcome treats but
far from concert staples. And if ever there was an appropriate occasion for
Sting to skip playing any Police songs this would have been it, but such was not
the case.

 

With
two violin players in his band, some of Sting’s songs took on a country music
feel. In fact, Sting’s “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying” was even covered by
Toby Keith and became a No. 1 country hit, while “I Hung My Head” was covered
by Johnny Cash. The country vibe continued with “Love Is Stronger Than Justice”
and “Desert Rose” even took on an almost a Riverdance sound.

 

The
evening’s final song featured Sting by himself onstage, standing alone with an
acoustic guitar in hand as he played the Police classic “Message In A Bottle.”
Any by 10:30 p.m. the satiated audience disbursed. No late night for the older
set, which I’m sure appreciated not staying up late on a school night. But then
again, what would you expect from the former schoolteacher? He came, he
delivered the goods, and just like that, Sting left without any fanfare.

 

SET LIST:

All
This Time

Every
Little Thing She Does Is Magic

Seven
Days

Demolition
Man

I’m
So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying

I
Hung My Head

Stolen
Car

Driven
To Tears

Fortress
Around Your Heart

Fields
Of Gold

Sacred
Love

Ghost
Story

Heavy
Cloud No Rain

Inside

Love
Is Stronger Than Justice

The
Hounds Of Winter

The
End Of The Game

Never
Coming Home

 

ENCORE:

Desert
Rose

Every
Breath You Take

Next
To You

Message
In A Bottle (Acoustic)

3 New Black Keys Songs Streaming Online

 

That makes five from
the new album, and counting.

 

By Fred Mills

 

As previously announced, next week, on Dec. 6, the Black
Keys’ new album El Camino arrives on
Nonesuch, and the band has been slowly unveiling material leading up to the
release – the first single, released on Record Store Day’s Black Friday, was “Lonely
Boy” b/w “Run Right Back.”

 

Now they’ve got “Gold on the Ceiling,” “Little
Black Submarines” and “Sister,” all from the album, streaming at
their website
along with the other two.

 

 

Video: New Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers

“Gravity” hails from
the recent Gift Horse album.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Very stoked to present a brand new video from one of our
fave bands, Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, whose adventurous recent album Gift Horse (Vanguard) prompted one of our
writers to enthuse in a review, “With a band that is always evolving, change is
certainly a good thing for them.  They show that they aren’t afraid to try
new things and that is what good musicians do.  Kellogg’s lyrics can be
uplifting to heartbreaking but are always honest and candid.  He says what
he feels and that speaks to listeners.  If you can feel, not just hear, an
artist’s music, that is true art, and that is what Stephen Kellogg and the
Sixers are.” Catch the band on tour through the end of the year – dates are
listed below.

 

The tune is called “Gravity” and the Stephanie
Keane-directed clip is given a unique animation treatment you’ll dig:

 

 

 

 

Stephen
Kellogg: “‘Gravity’ is about not being afraid of the future and
embracing what is real: your family, your friendships, a good laugh. Like
everyone, I worry about – health, money, failure, you name it…and I wanted a
song that would feel like a celebration of the things in life that
overcome fear and worry. The stuff you’ll remember when it’s all said and done.”

 

 

Director,
Stephanie Keane: “Knowing that Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers
wanted an animated music video I could not help but think of them as characters
living out the song, “Gravity.” There is so much heart in the lyrics,
I felt the band’s natural state -that backstage feel- was key to the concept.
They helped by collecting personal videos that I edited to the music and then
rotoscoped, letting the fantasy of animation and reality of these handpicked
memories intertwine.  Nearly 1,500 hand drawings went into making
“Gravity” come to life.” 

 

 

Tour Dates:

 

11/30/2011           
Lawrence, KS
– Bottleneck 

12/01/2011           
Boulder, CO
– Fox Theater 

12/02/2011           
Denver, CO
– Bluebird Theater 

12/03/2011           
Salt Lake, UT – State Room

12/04/2011           
Boise, ID
– The Reef 

12/06/2011           
Seattle, WA
– Tractor Tavern

12/07/2011           
Portland, OR –
Doug Fir Lounge

12/08/2011           
San Francisco, CA – Slim’s

12/09/2011           
Los Angeles, CA – Key Club

12/10/2011           
San Diego, CA – Winston’s

12/13/2011           
Dallas, TX –
HOB Cambridge

12/14/2011           
Austin, TX
– The Parish

12/15/2011           
San Antonio, TX – White Rabbit

12/16/2011           
Houston, TX
– The Capitol

12/26-27/2011           
Annapolis, MD – Ram’s Head Tavern

12/28/2011           
Richmond, VA
– Capital Ale House

12/29/2011           
Wilmington, NC
– Brooklyn Arts
Center at St.
Andrews

12/30/2011           
Duluth, GA –
The Red Clay Theatre

12/31/2011           
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
– Seaside
Amphitheater

1/15/2012           
Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun Casino – Wolf Den

 

 

Steal This Book, er, Box Set!

 

Elvis Costello goes
out on a limb (of marketing panache).

 

By Fred “Abbie” Hoffman

 

Somewhere at this very moment an enterprising Elvis Costello
fan is prepping a cache of FLAC files for upload.

 

RollingStone.com reports that with Costello’s mega-expensive
($203.00), limited edition (just 1500 copies) The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook  set to drop via Hip-O on Dec. 6, Costello
himself is suggesting to fans that instead of buying that collection they opt,
instead, for the less pricier – and in Costello’s words, “vastly superior” –
Louis Armstrong box Ambassador of Jazz. In a blog post at ElvisCostello.com, the musician, writing as “The Right
Reverend Jimmy Quickly,” bemoans the high ticket price “as either a misprint or
a satire.”

 

“If you should really want to buy something special for your loved one at
this time of seasonal giving,” writes Costello, “we can whole-heartedly
recommend, Ambassador Of Jazz“- a
cute little imitation suitcase, covered in travel stickers and embossed with
the name “Satchmo” but more importantly containing TEN re-mastered albums by
one of the most beautiful and loving revolutionaries who ever lived – Louis
Armstrong. The box should be available for under one hundred and fifty American
dollars and includes a number of other tricks and treats. Frankly, the music is
vastly superior.”

 

Rolling Stone notes that Costello “isn’t the first artist to advocate
illegal downloads of his music. Artists like System of a Down and Kid Rock have
publicly encouraged piracy of their music over settling for pricey distribution
routes, but Costello’s move has surfaced as an unexpected and deliberate snub
to his label. Many have said, though, that the move has become a sort of
reverse-psychology promotion for the set in spite of the singer’s dismissal.”

 

Decide for yourself. At any rate, word has it that some or all of the parts
of the Costello box are slated to be released separately next year. Meanwhile,
though, The Return of the Spectacular
Spinning Songbook
[Super Deluxe Edition] [1 CD + 1 DVD + 10″ Vinyl EP]
is up for pre-order at Amazon.com. Gift wrap is available.

 

 

MP3: Galactic; New LP Due Mardi Gras Day

 

More funk, jazz,
hip-hop and soul than you can shake a peppermill at…

 

By Blurt staff

 

New Orleans
stompers Galactic have set Feb. 21 – Mardi Gras Day – for the release of their
next album, Carnivale Electricos (Anti-).
It will be accompanied by an extensive US tour that will run Feb. 17
through April 1, and beyond. Full itinerary, below.

 

NOLA
guests on the record span several generations and styles from Neville brothers
Cyril and Ivan, to rappers Mannie Fresh and Mystikal (making one of his first
recordings since being released from prison); from Big Chief Juan Pardo, one of
the youngest Mardi Gras Indians, to the KIPP Renaissance High School Band, one
of the city’s most riotous marching bands.

 

Check
out the new track “Hey Na Na”:

 


Hey Na Na feat. David Shaw (of the Revivalists) and Maggie Koerner by Galacticfunk

 
Brazilian influences on the album are similarly diverse including a cover of
the Sergio Mendes Carnivale classic “Magalenha” and Galactic’s new composition,
“Guero Bounce,” which pairs Brazilian rhythms with a New Orleans
Bounce beat. “Julou,” named for the band’s own off-the-grid Mardi
Gras parade, is inspired by another popular Carnivale melody, while ” O
Côco da Galinha” features rising Rio samba
star Moyseis Marques.

 

Meanwhile,
on the tour Corey Glover (Living Colour) and Corey Henry (Rebirth Brass Band)
will join the group as special guest vocalists, while openers on the tour will
include Orgone and the Soul Rebels.  

 

 

‘Carnivale
Elctricos’ Tracklisting:
1. Ha Di Ka
(feat. Big Chief Juan Pardo and the Golden Comanche)
2. Hey Na Na (feat. David Shaw from The Revivalists and Maggie Koerner)
3. Magalenha (feat. Casa Samba)
4. Voyage Ton Flag
5. Out in the Street (feat. Cyril and Ivan Neville)
6. JuLou
7. Move Fast (feat. Mystikal and Mannie Fresh)
8. Karate (feat. KIPP
Renaissance High
School Marching Band)
9. Guero Bounce
10. Carnival Time (feat. Al “Carnival Time” Johnson)
11. Attack
12. O Côco da Galinha (feat. Moyseis Marques)
13. Ash Wednesday Sunrise

 
Galactic US Tour Dates:
Feb 17 – Soul Kitchen – Mobile, AL
Feb 23 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
Feb 24 – Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
Feb 25 – Terminal 5 – New York, NY
Feb 26 – House of Blues – Boston, MA
Feb 28 – The Westcott Theatre – Syracuse, NY
Feb 29 – Mr. Small’s Theatre – Pittsburgh, PA
Mar 01 – Beachland Ballroom – Cleveland, OH
Mar 02 – Park West – Chicago, IL
Mar 03 – Cabooze – Minneapolis, MN
Mar 04 – The Vogue Theatre – Indianapolis, IN
Mar 14 – The Pageant – St. Louis, MO
Mar 15 – Liberty Hall – Lawrence, KS
Mar 16-17 – Ogden Theatre – Denver, CO (2 nights)
Mar 18 – Belly Up – Aspen, CO
Mar 20 – Knotty Pine – Victor, ID
Mar 21 – The Wilma Theatre – Missoula, MT
Mar 22 – Domino Ballroom – Bend, OR
Mar 23 – Showbox Sodo – Seattle, WA
Mar 24 – Crystal Ballroom – Portland, OR
Mar 25 – The Crystal Bay Club – Crystal Bay, NV
Mar 27 – Moe’s Alley – Santa Cruz, CA
Mar 28 – Belly Up Tavern – Solana Beach, CA
Mar 29 – El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles, CA
Mar 30-31 – The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA (2 nights)
Apr 01 – Hard Rock Cafe – Las Vegas, NV
Apr 18 – Mercy Lounge – Nashville, TN
Apr 19 – Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA
Apr 20 – Minglewood Hall – Memphis, TN
Jul 26 – FloydFest – Floyd, VA

 

Video: Watch Morrissey On Conan

“People Are the Same
Everywhere” done live before the great man.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Ain’t every day you turn on the TV and see ol’ Mozzer right
there in front of you, but that’s what happened last night for viewers of Conan
O’Brien’s show. He and his band performed “People Are the Same Everywhere,”
although needless to say, the erstwhile Smiths frontman, in the middle of a
brief US tour, didn’t hang out too long to swap bon mots…

 

 

Video: New Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers

“Gravity” hails from
the recent Gift Horse album.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Very stoked to present a brand new video from one of our
fave bands, Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, whose adventurous recent album Gift Horse (Vanguard) prompted one of our
writers to enthuse in a review, “With a band that is always evolving, change is
certainly a good thing for them.  They show that they aren’t afraid to try
new things and that is what good musicians do.  Kellogg’s lyrics can be
uplifting to heartbreaking but are always honest and candid.  He says what
he feels and that speaks to listeners.  If you can feel, not just hear, an
artist’s music, that is true art, and that is what Stephen Kellogg and the
Sixers are.” Catch the band on tour through the end of the year – dates are
listed below.

 

The tune is called “Gravity” and the Stephanie
Keane-directed clip is given a unique animation treatment you’ll dig:

 

 

 

 

Stephen
Kellogg: “‘Gravity’ is about not being afraid of the future and
embracing what is real: your family, your friendships, a good laugh. Like
everyone, I worry about – health, money, failure, you name it…and I wanted a
song that would feel like a celebration of the things in life that
overcome fear and worry. The stuff you’ll remember when it’s all said and done.”

 

 

Director,
Stephanie Keane: “Knowing that Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers
wanted an animated music video I could not help but think of them as characters
living out the song, “Gravity.” There is so much heart in the lyrics,
I felt the band’s natural state -that backstage feel- was key to the concept.
They helped by collecting personal videos that I edited to the music and then
rotoscoped, letting the fantasy of animation and reality of these handpicked
memories intertwine.  Nearly 1,500 hand drawings went into making
“Gravity” come to life.” 

 

 

Tour Dates:

 

11/30/2011           
Lawrence, KS
– Bottleneck 

12/01/2011           
Boulder, CO
– Fox Theater 

12/02/2011           
Denver, CO
– Bluebird Theater 

12/03/2011           
Salt Lake, UT – State Room

12/04/2011           
Boise, ID
– The Reef 

12/06/2011           
Seattle, WA
– Tractor Tavern

12/07/2011           
Portland, OR –
Doug Fir Lounge

12/08/2011           
San Francisco, CA – Slim’s

12/09/2011           
Los Angeles, CA – Key Club

12/10/2011           
San Diego, CA – Winston’s

12/13/2011           
Dallas, TX –
HOB Cambridge

12/14/2011           
Austin, TX
– The Parish

12/15/2011           
San Antonio, TX – White Rabbit

12/16/2011           
Houston, TX
– The Capitol

12/26-27/2011           
Annapolis, MD – Ram’s Head Tavern

12/28/2011           
Richmond, VA
– Capital Ale House

12/29/2011           
Wilmington, NC
– Brooklyn Arts
Center at St.
Andrews

12/30/2011           
Duluth, GA –
The Red Clay Theatre

12/31/2011           
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
– Seaside
Amphitheater

1/15/2012           
Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun Casino – Wolf Den

 

 

Wasteland Bait & Tackle / James McMurtry

 

Occupy: “It’s common feeling and common conviction
that makes a movement.”

 

By James McMurtry

 

About a week ago, at the end of a short solo tour of Southwest Alaska, I wandered down to Occupy Anchorage.
The camp was only a block from my hotel.

 

The temperature was in the single digits with a light
snow. There were three tents, the first of which was wide open. Inside were
four young men, two white and two native, a dog, and a propane heater.  I offered them some smoked salmon and some
CDs. They took great interest in the salmon and it was quickly consumed. The
white guys introduced themselves. The natives did not.

 

I guess I should have introduced myself to all of
them, but I felt sheepish and shy, like an interloper or a tourist. They all
seemed to handle the cold pretty well. I asked them if they had any tips to
help Occupiers in the lower forty eight get through the winter. They shrugged.
John, the dog’s owner, said, “It’s pretty simple. You need shelter, heat,
and food.” About then, a nice woman named Wendy, who lived in the neighborhood,
came in with a crock of hot soup. Morale improved instantly. Wendy struck up a
lively conversation with a young man named Matt, who seemed like he could
become a spokesman, if the movement wanted a spokesman. He had something of a
thousand yard stare from, I guessed, fatigue and constant cold.

 

Matt considered himself lucky to be protesting in Anchorage rather than Portland
or Oakland,
because the Anchorage Police were not bothering the protesters, and some
officers were openly supportive of the movement, stopping by to chat and to
gripe about departmental budget cuts. Matt said he thought he preferred sub
zero temperatures to pepper spray, horses, and batons. He offered me some of
the soup. I’d had plenty to eat and had to catch an early flight, so I
declined, wished them luck, and left. I was struck by their generosity. I liked
the salmon, but they needed that soup.

 

 

Historically, it’s always been pretty easy for the
powerful to get poor people to swing sticks at other poor people. The powerful
simply have to pay the stick swingers just a little bit more than they used to
pay the strikers or the protesters or whatever group is causing them annoyance;
divide and suppress. Police officers may not live in abject poverty, but
they’re certainly not rich. They need their jobs and they’re trained to follow
orders. They are not paid to care whether or not they belong to the one percent
that gives the orders, though I don’t doubt that some of them do care anyway.
I’m curious about the origin of the orders.

 

With regard to Occupy and Law enforcement, mayors and
college presidents seemed to be charged with giving the orders, at least
officially, and they are subsequently charged with taking the heat when the
execution of any of their orders goes terribly wrong and produces violence,
physical injury, and embarrassing YouTube videos. Politicians and
Administrators don’t generally like controversy, it’s bad for careers. I don’t
think such people would give orders that would likely result in some really
messy controversy, unless enough pressure were brought to bear on them that
they would fear for their careers anyway. I think there are bigger forces at
work here.

 

In October, the New York City Police Department
arrested over seven hundred Occupy protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Some were held for hours without charge. Earlier this year, J.P. Morgan/Chase,
one of the recipients of the government bailout, derided by both Occupy and the
Tea Party, donated 4.6 million dollars, partly in technology, patrol car laptops
and such, to the New York City Police Department. This was the largest single
donation ever received by NYPD. You can’t tell me there were no strings
attached. City Budgets are strapped. Departments are underfunded. A direct
donation from a major corporation must be like manna from heaven to a police
department. But of course, the department will need more in the future, and it
won’t get more if it turns on its new benefactor.

 

No one gives away 4.6 million expecting nothing in
return. J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon is quoted as saying, “These officers
put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe, we’re incredibly proud
to help them build this program and let them know how much we value their hard
work.” I wouldn’t argue that NYPD, or any police department, is not worthy
of such a donation, but I must question the motive and the timing.  I wonder if Mr. Dimon actually lives in the
City. The few New York CEOs I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with all lived in Connecticut and rode
limos down the Merritt Parkway
to work and back. Wherever Mr. Dimon lives, I doubt he fears for his safety.

 

 I hear
complaints that the protest is unfocused, that the protesters’ rejection of
traditional hierarchy renders the movement ineffective as a political force,
that it has no clear message. But I don’t see a problem yet. Occupy has been
effective simply by coming into existence. No one organized Occupy ahead of
time. A call went out and people showed up.

 

They’re still showing up and their numbers and
tenacity do have an effect. They get noticed. As for the message, one can Google
Keith Olbermann and hear the message, well written by Occupy and well read by
Olbermann. Basically, occupiers want to take their country back
from the banks and lobbyists. Their demands aren’t that different from those of
the Tea Party. The two groups should join forces. They’re mad about
the same conditions, though they disagree on where to put the blame.

 

The Tea party blames the government; Occupy blames the
corporations that now own the government. Is there that much difference?
Ultimately, we will all have to join forces if we are to call ourselves a
nation. Right now, we are too polarized to be effective. We no longer recognize
each other as Americans. The mayors and college presidents who call out the
riot squads apparently don’t know that those are their fellow Americans getting
beaten and pepper sprayed. Those are American sons and daughters. Those are
American students, American librarians, American grandmothers, and American veterans,
and when they get hurt, we all get hurt. The stick swinging has to stop. It
serves no useful human purpose.

 

I’ve taken part in very few protests. I attended one
No Nukes march in Washington
D.C. in the late seventies. It
seemed to be conducted mostly by old hippies who wanted to do it again, and
younger people like myself who thought we were sorry to have missed the
sixties. My son and I attended several anti war protests in Austin
at the start of the Iraq
war. Our fellow Americans screamed expletives at us as we stood on the street,
but we didn’t get arrested. There were some “protest for fun” types
there too.

 

I think Occupy is different. I’ll have to go to New York and check it
out. I’m pretty sure the guys in Anchorage
weren’t out there for the fun of it. They seemed to feel that they needed to be
there, that they had no choice. It’s common feeling and common conviction that
makes a movement. And it seems that more and more of us feel that we have no
choice.

 

 

Singer-songwriter James McMurtry lives in Austin, Texas.
When he’s not touring, you can see him at the Continental Club every Wednesday,
‘round about midnight. Full details at his official website.

 

 

Benefit for Japan School Music Revival

 

Proceeds of benefit concert go to help children return to
their music studies.

 

On November 20 at 7pm at Largo in West
Hollywood, CA, The
Section Quartet hosted “A Concert to Benefit School Music Revival”.
Co-MC’ing the show were comedienne Margaret Cho and singer/songwriter Grant-Lee
Phillips.  Artists initially scheduled to perform were Sam Phillips, Van
Dyke Parks, Linda Perry, mike watt, Lisa Germano, Wendy & Lisa, Matt Sharp,
Jenny O and Grey DeLisle who were joined by Ken Andrews and Kellii Scott (of
the band Failure), Vivian Campbell (of Def Leppard) and Murry Hammond (of Old
97s), with more guests to be announced.  

 

Pictured above are Cho and
Phillips performing together at the event. (Photo by Chris Cuttriss.)

 

All the artists performed in
collaboration with The Section Quartet who acted as “house
band,”  making for an evening of
unique and unforgettable musical moments.  In addition, journalist and
co-founding editor of BoingBoing.com Xeni Jardin spoke about her recent
trip to Japan
to report on the ongoing nuclear crisis for PBS’ News Hour program. Eric
Gorfain of The Section Quartet will be traveling to Japan
to hand deliver 100% of the concert’s proceeds to Mr. Naoyuki Seo of the School
Music Revival foundation in Tokyo.

 

The March 2011 earthquake and
tsunami in the Fukushima region of Japan decimated
the immediate area and created an ongoing nuclear disaster; the images of the
disaster beamed around the world in real time shocked and horrified all. As a
musician who has spent much of the last 21 years repeatedly visiting and making
music in Japan,
as well living there for a four year stretch, Gorfain, wanted to help in some
way, large or small.  Then, Gorfain discovered that composer Ryuichi
Sakamoto had co-founded School Music Revival, an organization devoted to
repairing or replacing school instruments damaged or lost in the disaster.
 

 

“While human life was lost in
incomprehensible numbers, lives are being put back together, and music plays a
large role in mending the mind, as well as the body, so I wanted to help the
children of the region get back to ‘normal’ life with their music studies as
quickly as possible”, says Gorfain.

 

More details:  http://www.schoolmusicrevival.org/purpose_eng.html

 

AUTODISCOGRAPHY: Howe Gelb/Giant Sand

 

 

Companion piece to
today’s “The Story of Giant Sand’s
Chore Of Enchantment” feature – consult Britain’s Sa-Wa-Ro website for
even more in-depth discographical details.

 

BY HOWE GELB (as told
to Fred Mills
)

Giant Sandworms: Giant
Sandworms
EP (1980, Boneless)
It’s really a bad sounding record. I’m totally embarrassed by this whole sort of
David Byrne style of singing that I was latching onto. It was 1980, and in Tucson, that kind of
erratic crap was big. But at the time it was a process of elimination, getting
rid of the .38 Special and stuff. Rainer and I had started Giant Sandworms and
got the two other guys [David
Seger
, Billy
Sed
] and it became a four-headed beast.

Giant Sand: Valley Of Rain (1985, Enigma)
‘Desert rock’… that was an accident of geographics. I like the contrast: ‘valley
of rain,’ there in the desert with no water, but that one time of year — the
summer monsoons — when things seem to pour. First records are always so
important because you have all this ‘stuff.’ That took 28 years to make; it was
recorded in ’84. But the next one only took eight months to a year! The
greatest compliment is that if you can still put it on and it’s not embarrassing,
it has good sounds, and the energy still comes through – how many years after
the fact, sixteen?

The Band of Blacky Ranchette: The
Band Of Blacky Ranchette
(1985, New Rose,
France)
Dan
Stuart
‘s girlfriend had moved out to L.A.
and was going to put together a real country-punk record. [The Don’t Shoot compilation
featuring John Doe, Divine Horsemen, the Giant Sand side project Blacky
Ranchette and various members of Green On Red and the Long
Ryders
, on Zippo, 1986.] She turned us on to this studio and we went out
there and did this in a day and a half for 400 dollars. This French guy offered
me a thousand dollars for it and that’s what began the formula: to record for
half of whatever the front money was gonna be and split up the difference. I
took Rainer out there and did his Barefoot Rock album the same way! At any
rate, Rainer had quit Giant Sandworms but I had wanted to get back playing with
him. I had started doing this thing with Van
Christian
, but he eventually wanted to do his thing with Naked Prey, so I got Rainer and this great, straight-ahead
rhythm section. This was in ’84. I moved out to L.A., and the first night out
there, I had the tapes of both Blacky and Valley Of Rain in the van and I
had a feeling it was gonna get ripped off so I’d taken everything out of the
van but I forgot the tapes! We had the pre-mix and the rough-mix of each
session, and we got back and sure enough, they’d ripped off the van — they’d
somehow stolen one reel of each, leaving me with the rough mix of Blacky and
the pre-mix masters of Valley Of Rain. Those tapes became the two albums. The
next day we went down to this ghetto area and suddenly Scott
Garber
[G.S. bassist] goes, “Did you see the shit that guy was
wearing?” And it was a Giant Sandworms shirt that he must have stolen.

Band of Blacky Ranchette: Ballad
Of A Thin Line Man
(1986, Enigma) and Heartland (1986, Zippo,
England)
These came out the same day. Thin Line was
recorded in L.A. and Heartland was done in Venice and in Reno. At that time, back
in the ’80s, I was so free that I wanted to have five or six different bands
all playing different music. Then when I started getting acclaim for any one of
them, I started to feel the weight of each, and it began to make less sense to
go off starting something new. Why not just do Giant Sand since they know this
name now, so with the following record I just combined both.

Giant Sand: Storm (1988, What Goes On)
We’ve got Paula [Paula
Jean Brown
, ex-Go Gos, and Gelb’s first wife] on bass — she was pregnant
there — and Neil
Harry
on pedal steel. It made sense just to combine the attitudes, of the
country stuff as well, and just call it Giant Sand. I was trying to get Tom [Tom
Larkins
, drummer, now with Jonathan Richman] to play with brushes then.

Giant Sand: The Love Songs and Long
Stem Rant
(1988 and 1989, Homestead)
This is when John came in. We were living in the same building, which is how we
met him, and when we went down to record Love
Songs
he was playing in the Insect Surfers and was really, really good in
that. He only had 45 minutes so we hurried through the songs, sometimes playing
faster than normal so we could get them done! Paula and I were living in Hollywood and had just had
our baby, Patsy; she’d had a hit with “Mad About You” with Belinda
Carlisle and that was paying our bills. I was barely making anything and had to
get side jobs. I was trying to get this job at RCA working the phones. At that time
Paula and I weren’t getting along, Chris
Cacavas
who’s on the album was going off to do his solo thing, and in the
meantime Craig Marks at Homestead was setting up this tour, and I asked John if
he wanted to go on the road. It came down to whether or not the RCA job came
through; I was gonna piss off Homestead
and say, “That’s it, I’m gonna get a steady gig and not make records!”
If that job didn’t come through I was gonna hit the road.

      That Friday it
didn’t, and by the weekend we were on a plane. Craig picks us up, bought us a
$2000 ’81 Honda Accord with his credit card, bought me that amp [points at
amplifier in the room], and that was our tour support. We would show up
everywhere as a two-piece five minutes before we were supposed to play and
they’d give us hell because they were expecting a band! But they’d see how
little gear we had and the soundmen loved us — I just said, “Make it sound
like Hendrix!” It was great; that was some of the happiest times. It was
on that tour that we first went to South By Southwest and we met this guy Dusty
Wakeman and his partner Michael Dumas. They invited us up to this little place
near Joshua Tree where they were gonna build a studio. When we got there they
hadn’t gotten it finished, so our friend Eric Westfall, who has worked with us
on most of our records, dragged an eight-track up there to that barn [pictured
on the sleeve]. It was after that when Dusty called me and said he needed a
caretaker to live there, in one of the four little cabins nearby. It was very,
very remote and I loved it. I was fresh from a divorce, and I’d had enough of Hollywood.

Giant Sand: Giant Sandwich (1989, Homestead); Giant Songs: The Best Of Giant Sand (1989, Demon); Giant
Songs Two
(1995, Demon)
Sandwich was an excuse to put out some
unreleased stuff and some remixes. The others are “sort of” best
of’s, not chronological in order. With compilations it’s all about flavor;
anything that has to do with lists on paper is probably the last thing you
should do.

The Band Of Blacky Ranchette: Sage Advice (1990, Demon,
UK; reissued 1993, Restless)
I had the notion to drive back to Tucson
and hang out. So I thought I would record while I was there. I didn’t have any
songs at the time for it, so I wrote a few on the drive down from Rimrock. Not
so hard when you’re alone on a 7 hour drive in a ’66 ‘cuda. You kind of need
that sort of exercise to eat a few miles. And in that car, you felt every one
of them. It was fun finding folks to record, some of the same people that did
the first 2 Blacky records. Rainer of course,  Neil Harry on steel, Tom
Larkins [now with Jonathan Richman] on drums, Bridget Keating on violin…
Later when I got back to California,
I added Lucinda Williams to one of the tracks for a duet thing.

Giant Sand: Swerve (1990, Amazing Black Sand)
That was also written up in Joshua Tree. There are a lot of people on it [Steve
Wynn
, Chris Cacavas, Mark Walton, Falling James, Juliana Hatfield, Poi Dog
Pondering, etc.] because while we were on the two-piece tour we met Poi Dog
Pondering and another band whose singer I became totally enamored of. That was
Juliana Hatfield and the Blake Babies. We recorded some in Boston
and she came in, then again later in L.A.
when she had come into town to do something with Susanna Hoffs. And Steve had
become a friend, met him in Europe, and it was
fun just to come in and cut something fast. Falling James was nothing but
great. I had put it out in Europe, which is
where I got the financing to have it done, and then I put it out in the States
myself. (Later, Restless picked it up.) It was a cottage industry we had in our
one-room cabin. Me and John would do it and would answer the phones as
“Big Julie.” That was great. Big Julie would talk about the band like
we were assholes! The reason the records have a Tucson address on them is
because I hadn’t stayed in one place for more than two years so having that
mail drop seemed as good an address as any.

Howe Gelb: Dreaded Brown Recluse (solo album, 1991, Houses In Motion, Germany;
reissued ’93, Restless)
I ended up hating the art on that, stupid pink-purple cover. Part of the problem
with dealing with Europe and get things done
quick. When Restless picked it up I was able to do the cover better. Ultimately
a solo record was only an excuse not to do a Giant Sand record because we’d
been putting them out every six to eight months and they were saying,
“Please, can you wait longer between releases!” It could just as well
be a Giant Sand record. By then we had Joey… John’s on there, Paula, Rainer,
Victoria Williams…

Giant Sand: Ramp (1992, Amazing Black Sand; reissued ’92 on
Restless)
I was splitting my time between New
Mexico and Rimrock, near Joshua Tree. Victoria and
Pappy [Allen} are both on there.  Eric Westfall was engineering and
producing our records, and he would get the keys to the studio that would allow
us to sneak in and do an all-night session. We’d have maybe 24 hours, a day or
two, to get these things done. On used tape for 50 bucks. So a few years before
Eric took me to meet Victoria;
he’d met her and had fallen in love with her, but she’d fallen in love with Peter
Case. A couple of years later I drove my Barracuda down to McCabe’s in
Hollywood where Steve Wynn was doing a gig and had asked me to come down. Pappy
had a bar in Rimrock and I’d been helping him do stuff, fix his urinals, and I
invited him to go with me and sing. When we got there the first person we saw
was Victoria,
and I said if she ever wanted to come out and all that…
   A mutual friend of ours recommended Joey to us. The idea of
finding someone who could play — and had! — an upright bass was part of the
job description. It was time to expand the format even more, and he didn’t seem
to mind at all the hide and seek turns the songs would take. This would really
take its toll on bass players. Drive them nuts! But Joe hung in there real
well. He was the first bass player we ever had that never complained when we
didn’t rehearse. He enjoyed the game of us trying to lose each other. John and
I had this telepathy thing going, and then Joey, of course, was allowed in the
triangle. He figured it out.

Giant Sand: Center Of The Universe (1992, Restless)
I think that’s the best one. The songs are short, a lot of them are realized. The
sounds aren’t great but I like ’em because they aren’t great. There are no deep
tones on that record, for example. I had gotten into this method of working.
Most of the distortion is done with an acoustic guitar. With the pickup on it,
I got one of these pedals with an A-B switch so I could throw it to the amp
when I wanted to. In effect it allowed me to get the recordings done even
faster because I didn’t have to overdub two guitars. I’d be playing acoustic,
step on the pedal, kick in the distortion, then turn it off and come back down
to acoustic.

Giant Sand: Purge & Slouch (1993, Restless)
We had a good relationship with Restless; I think they used us to attract other
bands but that was okay. We had a verbal deal, nothing on paper, but they
claimed we owed them another record when they knew we were gonna sign to Imago.
But I liked the idea and wanted to make a Metal
Machine Music
record like Lou Reed. They got nervous with that: “But
wasn’t that a ‘fuck-you’ from Lou to RCA?” “Yeah, but I’m gonna have
fun with it! I just wanted to walk in with no ideas and see what happens.”
And that became Purge & Slouch with Al Perry, Rainer, all those other guitarists.

Giant Sand: Stromausfall (1993, Return To Sender, Germany)
Limited edition, outtakes from Purge
& Slouch,
recorded at Harvey Moltz’s in Tucson, kept acoustical. That
will probably be rereleased in our bootleg series. Bonus tracks, and I might
take one or two that bugged me off of that.

Giant Sand: Glum (1994, Imago)
All these records were done in a few days; Center might have been a week. That record, it’s a major label record, and we had
four weeks total time put in. You can hear the difference in the sounds. The
low end is just beautiful, and John was totally possessed. We were in New Orleans and I’d never
heard him play drums as magnificently.  That was the record that we
learned about editing. Trina Shoemaker did the editing and she would chop the
songs to make them more concise, and Malcolm [Burn, producer] would tell us how
John Lennon would edit here and here, how War would jam for a half hour and make
a 3 ½ minute song. What I’d done previously was just leave the song long, or
make these really, really weird edits. Which I loved! I’ve got this cassette of
the pre-edit rough mixes for the album. I’ve also got these outtakes with Lisa
Germano, who was going out with Malcolm. She ended up sitting in on three songs
that didn’t make it onto the record. The idea is to re-release that in the
bootleg series as the hissy cassette mixes and then throw on the Lisa Germano
tracks too.

Giant Sand: Goods And Services (Brake Out/Enemy), Backyard
Barbecue Broadcast
(Koch), Volume
One Official Bootleg Series
(Epiphany) (all 1995)
Each one is made up from DATs; none involved us going into the studio to do a new
record. They’re all one-offs. Goods came out in Germany; I’ve wondered if I should
release that in the states. The guys who did it recorded us live, mostly in
Europe, both as a three-piece in Europe and as
a six-piece [Gelb, Burns and Convertino, plus Paula Jean Brown on bass, Bill
Elm on steel and Mike Semple on guitar]. They remixed it, and I could add
remixes and one or two extra tracks. Barbecue, I let Nick Hill, of WMFU-FM, put it together. It was recorded at WMFU in ’94
and ’95 and it was his puppy. And the bootleg thing, it had some outtakes from Barbecue and Goods, some bits and pieces that we wanted to take and make a
semi-ambient sounding album. The first track is a live show in New York with Cris
Kirkwood — which nobody knows, because I opted for the luxury of not putting
any credits on there.

OP8: Slush (1997, Thirsty Ear)
The Lisa Germano sessions. Something smoother, almost like the sound of when we
play in the lobby of Hotel Congress here on Friday nights. That’s really the
only studio Giant Sand between Glum and Chore — and it’s not really Giant
Sand, it’s OP8. We had actually started working on some of the songs that would
become Chore, and about that same time we started working on The Inner Flame [Rainer Ptacek
tribute/benefit album that Gelb and Robert Plant spearheaded]. Then Lisa came
to town.

Howe Gelb: Hisser (solo album, 1998, V2)
A different methodology. Culminating crap in the living room, just acoustic guitar
and piano, and friends who drop by. It wasn’t like going in and working. A
friend of mine who lives out in the desert had a big reel-to-reel in storage
and he came over and set up this huge four-track and a couple of big mikes,
some old tube pre-amps, literally right here in the living room.

Howe Gelb: Upside-Down Home (solo album, 1999, Ow Om)
That was just a quick CD-R release I made, mostly outtakes from Hisser. It’s when I was first beginning
to stand on my feet again, go out and play some shows, see what’s out there, if
anybody gives a shit, whatever. I made up a few with cheap covers. Maybe only
20 or 30 copies altogether. And I ended up using a few of the tracks for the
European edition of Hisser, but I
dunno, that was probably long enough!

Giant Sand: Chore Of Enchantment (2000, Thrill Jockey)
I couldn’t be happier. The beauty, I guess, of working on it for so long was that
I got to consider it and say, “No, we don’t need that…” or,
“Yeah, it’d be good to use this…” I got to live with it for a long
time — which we never get to! And the other thing was that I wanted to make it
more concise.
        We had gotten to the point where
we were playing 2 1/2 hour, 3 hour sets, then that wasn’t appealing any more. I
felt we were wasting people’s lives: it’s better to be a pharmacist and dole
out the proper dosage, so we then were doing 45 minute sets that were really
good instead. And I thought for the actual studio records I wanted it to be
thick enough for those who have waited for so long, but short enough so it
doesn’t become too exhausting. So I thought, “I’ve gotta keep it under an
hour,” which is why it’s 59 minutes and 59 seconds.

Giant Sand: The Rock Opera Years (2000, Ow Om)
It’s the second volume in the Bootleg Series, available on the website and at
live shows. It’s a companion piece to Chore; four songs are the same titles but very different versions. “Dusted
(In Tucson)”, for example, was recorded the same day in ’96 we did “The Inner Flame” for the Rainer tribute. I added a
little electric, some steel, some pump organ. “Punishing Sun (In
Tucson)” is a relentless pulse of dance fever compared with the acoustic,
almost solo ballad on Chore. Also
included is the title track “Chore Of Enchantment” that isn’t on Chore at all. Evan Dando sang on a couple
tracks when he’d come out for a visit. Victoria Williams did the same when we
went to visit her, and then ended up doing “Music Arcade,” a 
Neil Young cover up there. All this stuff was done just prior to beginning the deal
with V2, and this is how the record would have been if we’d never signed to V2.