Press Release: Just when you thought Giant Sand couldn’t get any bigger, Howe Gelb 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. 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 11, 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.
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Fire Records have recently completed a series of reissues to mark the 25thAnniversary of Giant Sand by releasing all sixteen albums by the group. Formed in 1983 by Howe Gelb and his reinvented “older brother” Rainer Ptacek, Giant Sand were pioneers in forging a particular strain of Americana and Desert Rock. Although Rainer died in 1997 from brain cancer, he continues to leave his imprint on Howe’s recording from the day they met. In turn, Howe Gelb remained influential in the careers of the likes of Grandaddy, M Ward and brought together the duo of John Convertino and Joey Burns of Calexico when they were Giant Sand’s rhythm section.
Howe Gelb has also enjoyed a prolific solo career, with fourteen albums all to be reissued by Fire later this year. The most recent solo project is entitled, Alegrias, by 'Howe Gelb and A Band of Gypsies', was recorded on a rooftop in Cordoba, Spain, during the last several years. The band is a collection of Andalucian Gypsies featuring guitarist extraordinaire Raimundo Amador, that is, quite frankly, stunning. The solo album just before, Sno angel “like you”, featured a full Canadian Baptist gospel choir was heralded as a career high receiving a 5 star review from Mojo.