A Kind of Interview with Howe Gelb

Dear Interviewer.

There’s no way I can answer the questions you put forward. And I mean no disrespect. It’s too late in the day and I’m too long in the tooth to attempt to clarify my existence of song or sell myself to those unaware.

I can only tell you that I believe Ireland invented song. And Africa invented rhythm. And in America those two influences collided and  became things like country music and jazz. Like blues and rock & roll.

And some of us at a certain point growing up took notice of how Hank Williams handled it. How Thelonious Monk handled it. How Bob Dylan enlightened the path by forging his own pen upon the stage with both of those influential territorial sparklings.

Otherwise. .. I really have nothing to add.

I am looking forward to spending the time in Ireland. And taking in the sites on our few days off, things like making our way up to Malin Head.  Last time we were there we went down close to the tumultuous sea. The wind was wicked. Tried to take photos but my phone died when I got too close. So did Mark’s phone. Malin Head didn’t want to be captured by the plastic Apple. When we hiked back up to the car, Mark’s phone worked again. It’s a powerful place.

Mark McKowski said he likes the venues we will play, and that’s exactly good enough for me. Mark is a stellar feller.

Maybe the quote below that just popped up today can offer some additional illumination. Probably not. But it’s all I got.

It’s from an interview with Winston Watson, the first drummer in my band Giant Sand. Our first of around 50 albums was recorded in 1983 and Winston was on board then, who went on to play for Dylan in the 90s. After which came Tommy Larkins ( who went on to play with Jonathan Richman ). Then John Convertino ( who went on to play with Calexico ). Jeromy Gara ( went on to play with Arcade Fire ). And Peter Dombernowsky ( who’s gone on to tour with M Ward, and Mark Lanegan, God rest his soul ).

These are all drummers. Trust me. It’s not my rhythms that make them great to go on to greater things. It’s me mixing it up on any night. Changing it up. Keeping the music alive by allowing it to change like a living thing instead of keeping it the same  from night to night like something less than alive.  Anyway. Below is what Winston said, if it’s of any use.

Thanks for your time,


“It’s like Miles Davis. Bob Dylan didn’t give a s@#t what you were going through the night before or tomorrow, he wanted whatever the f@#k it was you had in you that night. I understand that now more than ever, mainly because of working with Bob Dylan or Howe Gelb. Working with Gelb prepared me for the unpredictability of working with Dylan. The two of them are parallel. They are both very prolific, both very idiosyncratic – and they are both really special. They’re the kind of people that only come around once in a very long while.”

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