5,7,5 – 365 16th November 2015
A haiku and a diary entry, every day for a year. OK, not every day and certainly not in any particular order!
The very first post on this blog tells of a night out to see Giant Sand Presents – performances by members of Giant Sand, introduced by Howe Gelb. That gig was one of a chain of events that set this all in motion. Tonight I get to see Howe Gelb himself play a solo set as part of The End Festival at The Crypt Studio in Hoxton. It’s Monday night (I’ve posted this late) and Laila has university many miles away, Lynne is adventuring in Rome and so my friend Paul joins me.
First up, a set by Nadine Khouri and her band. Nadine has a lovely voice and a slick band that really seem to be on the same wavelength as her. Sadly, just as they get warmed up and settled in, their set is over. She is one to watch.
Next up, it’s the man himself, Howe Gelb. I have described Howe as being akin to what Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman would call an anthropomorphic personification, in this case the embodiment of the concept of music and cool. Everything he says and does is cool; his hat is cool, his boots are cool, he plays and sings in a profoundly cool and relaxed manner, he is cool. I’m also told by both Laila and Lynne that he is a very handsome man, in fact another friend, Denise, described him as the most attractive man she has ever seen – I don’t know about any of that so I’ll just stick with cool.
Previously, I’ve been to preview sets by stand up comedians, trying out new material or honing a routine before heading to the Edinburgh Fringe or taking the show on the road. I’ve also heard sets by bands experimenting with their music, trying their own songs in different styles – most notably, The Low Anthem, who never seem to play a song the same way twice, with often sublime results. Tonight’s set is something in between those two. Howe described it on his Instagram feed as, “Attempting a set of half baked songs on full baked jet lag“. He says he’s trying to write a standard, a song that will still be played in a hundred years. I can’t help thinking he has already done that several times over. The Giant Giant Sand album ‘Tuscon’ alone is crammed with standards, I would love to still be playing ‘Out of the Blue’ in a hundred years – that’s something worth aspiring to.
John Parish joins on the drums and Howe, shuffles through his notes and plays half written, half learnt songs at the piano, songs that, “go something like this”. He also talks about his friend and musical co-conspirator, the late Rainer Ptacek, the early days of Giant Sand and how they broke out of Tuscon. I’m enjoying myself immensely. I’m getting a peek into the creative process, the early stages of something yet to come and hearing some of Howe’s back story. Paul, who has come into this blind, or perhaps deaf, is not so sure. He doesn’t really know what to make of it. Never mind, Laila and Lynne would certainly have got this. You can’t please everybody.
With notes and jet lag
He plays the still unresolved
Searching for standards