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Our own house publication, providing an interesting look into what's what on our island and beyond...
A special column giving a high-five to worthwhile articles and opinions all through the year...
Monday, 29.07.2019, 20:20
oh what a night...
Howe Gelb + M. Ward
Two wild and crazy guys. One from Tucson, Arizona and the other from Portland, Oregon.

Howe Gelb 
loves kittens. He exudes taste and class. Could be all you need to know aside from him being a prodigiously talented and influential musician. If it weren’t for other factualities like having been born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1956. From whence he relocated to the somewhat sandier but immensely sunnier and warmer climes of Tuscon, Arizona. Where in the 70’s he met Rainer Ptacek, the slide and fingerpicking guitarist, and experimental electronic wizard. With him, Billy Sedlmayer and Dave Seger, Howe formed Giant Sandworm in the ’80s which became the forerunner for the legendary Giant Sand, now featuring bass player Scott Garber, drummers Winston Watson and Tommy Larkins and later the hiring of another percussionist, John Convertino. The otherwise benign '90s led to the discovery and gainful employment of bass player Joey Burns. The band then wiggled into different shapes, one initiated by its own rhythm section which became Calexico. When Rainer Ptacek died in 97, Howe and Robert Plant spurred the tribute album of Rainer’s songs  «The Inner Flame». The album featured Giant Sand, Plant, Jimmy Page, Emmylou Harris, PJ Harvey, Vic Chestnut, Evan Dando, Chuck Prophet a.o. The 2000s found Howe going frequently solo and unearthing M. Ward and producing the man’s first album. The 2010s added another Giant to Giant Sand and the band was renamed Giant Giant Sand. He also released the solo and seminal album “The Coincidentalist” for New West Records, which not only restored our belief in coincidence but featured Steve Shelley, M. Ward, and Thoger Fundalong, along guest appearances by Will Oldham (aka Bonny “Prince” Billy), KT Turnstall and Andrew Bird. Which leads us from the then to the now and to Howe Gelb’s current work as the revivalist of the nearly lost art of the Americana piano standard, its songwriters and piano players. So now you wanna know what he’s up to tonight? Quien sabe

 

M. Ward,
(born 1976) singer-songwriter and guitarist, well-versed in the genres of alt-country, indie folk and get this, American Primitive Guitar. He first popped up into our consciousness with his Howe Gelb produced solo debut “Duets for Guitars #2” which Pitchfork described as «ragged and lo-fi…recorded on a shoestring and not necessarily the worse for it». It quickly went out of print but was re-issued in 2007. M. continued to record only analog and he still records the demos for his songs on the same recorder he’s used as a teen.  He’s tackled songs by the Beach Boys You Still Believe in Me and J.S. Bach’s Wohltemperierten Klavier and went to town on David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, rendering it nearly unrecognizable. He’s toured with Conor Oberst’s Bright Eyes, Beth Norton and My Morning Jackets, supported Nora Jones and produced for Mavis Staples. M. was also true to form with his ear opening 2005 hommage «Transistor Radio». His brand-new newest (2019) is «What a Wonderful Industry» about which he has this to say: «The album is inspired by people I know in the music business – heroes and villains alike. There are some beautiful moments and I’m grateful to be part of a trade that has so often led me around the world. But at this particular zoo, there’s a perfect balance between the cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals. The album visits the most memorable characters and I was able to work with some most inspiring folks. Some others I wish I’ve never met. The thing ends tragically with an imaginary murder ballad, inspired by Griffin Millin. The album wants to remind you that both your friends and your enemies are close. However, I hope you’ll like it. All names have been changed to protect the innocent.» The spirit of Matthew Stephen «M» Ward.

The summer treat at El Lokal, Howe Gelb and M. Ward. Alter egos, separate together.

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