Sat Nov 15 - Grant-Lee Phillips/Howe Gelb @ Tree Bar!
- November 14, 2014 8:54 am at 8:54 am #1050406
SAT. NOV 15
@ TREE BAR.
887 CHAMBERS ROAD
Tickets on Sale Now: http://hayezentertainment.bigcartel.com/
an evening with
Grant-Lee Phillips is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He is probably best known as the voice and vision of the critically-acclaimed group Grant Lee Buffalo, which existed from 1992 to 1999. In the early 2000s Grant featured regularly in the television series Gilmore Girls as Star Hollow’s local busker. He did not sing his own songs on the show – he mostly covered songs of other musicians, usually in the background as the main characters are passing.
Phillips spent his formative years in Stockton, CA, where he founded a band called Bloody Holly, but prior to his 20th birthday Phillips headed to Los Angeles to study film, and he quickly found himself beneath the spell cast by local bands as The Rain Parade and Dream Syndicate. Phillips soon joined with Stockton acquaintance Jeff Clark to form Shiva Burlesque. The band dissolved after two critically acclaimed records, and Phillips soon began writing and demo-ing using the Grant Lee Buffalo alias.
Following some solo dates, Phillips invited former bandmates Joey Peters and Paul Kimble to join him, and the trio signed to Warner subsidiary Slash in 1992. Phillips’ golden, honey-soaked voice went largely to waste in Shiva Burlesque, but the new band enabled him to step out as a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. GLB went on to release four very different LPs, consistent in excellence. A cult following, successful tours, and across-the-board critical acclaim (he was voted Rolling Stone’s Male Vocalist of the Year following their second LP) didn’t translate into sales, however. Frustrated with his label’s dead-on-arrival promotion, Phillips asked for his band to be released from their contract, and he was obliged. (It was erroneously reported that GLB had been dropped.) Phillips dissolved his band, anxious to forge a new path.
In October of 1999, he headed to Jon Brion’s studio and recorded a handful of new songs, played exclusively by himself. Dubbed Ladies’ Love Oracle, it was self-released the following year online and at his numerous appearances at Largo in Hollywood. After landing a deal with Zoe/Rounder, Phillips issued the excellent Mobilize in 2001. The next year, Rounder reissued Ladies’ Love Oracle in time for Phillips’ joint tour with Kristin Hersh and Joe Doe. In 2004, he released Virginia Creeper, followed by an album of covers (Nineteeneighties) in 2006. Strangelet appeared in 2007 on Rounder Records, followed by Little Moon (2009), and Walking in the Green Corn (2012) .
It took singer/songwriter Howe Gelb nearly 20 years to receive the type of attention upstart indie rockers routinely obtain by their second album. During those two decades, Gelb released an abundance of material at the helm of his group, Giant Sand, presenting a highly original take on Southwestern roots and garage rock. Gelb rarely stepped off his wayward musical course and onto even ground for any length of time. Combine this with inadequate promotion and distribution from a number of independent labels, and Gelb was ensured regrettable obscurity. By the late ’90s, however, people finally began to take notice of a group of musicians gathering in Tucson, Arizona. Gelb and Giant Sand had spawned a number of side projects including OP8 (Giant Sand plus Lisa Germano), Calexico, and the Friends of Dean Martinez. Gelb received the biggest critical and commercial success of his career with his Chore of Enchantment album in 2000.
Howe Gelb formed the first incarnation of Giant Sand (then, the Giant Sandworms) in 1980 with longtime friend Rainer Ptacek. Like most of the early lineups, however, the group didn’t last long, undergoing the first of many personnel changes. In 1985, Gelb took a new quartet (which included future Friends of Dean Martinez drummer Tom Larkin) into the studio to record Valley of Rain (the official debut as Giant Sand) for $400. More members came and went until 1988, when Gelb had settled briefly on a trio of bassist Paula Brown (his first wife who had joined in 1987) and drummer John Convertino. While Gelb and Brown would part ways in 1989, Convertino would eventually make up one-third of Giant Sand’s most consistent lineup. The final ingredient came in 1991 with the addition of Joey Burns. This core group recorded Ramp (1991), Center of the Universe (1992), Purge & Slouch (1993), and Glum (1994), albums that alternated pulsating rock with dusty acoustic etchings.
In the years that followed, the story of Giant Sand’s extended family grew increasingly complex. Convertino and Burns launched their duo project, Calexico, and co-founded the Friends of Dean Martinez. Gelb laid relatively low, releasing live and outtake material on Goods and Services, Backyard Barbecue Broadcast, and Official Bootleg Series, Vol. 1 (all 1995). He lent piano and organ to the Friends’ debut (The Shadow of Your Smile, 1995) and joined an exceptional cast for contributions to Richard Buckner’s stunning Devotion + Doubt album (1997). In 1998, V2 released Gelb’s formal solo debut, the ethereal, lo-fi home studio project Hisser.
In 1997, Gelb lost his close friend Ptacek to cancer, months before he was preparing to record the next Giant Sand album. The event threw him into an emotional tailspin. Initial Tucson sessions (at the same studio where he had worked with Ptacek just weeks previously) were largely unsuccessful. Three producers (John Parish, Jim Dickinson, and Kevin Salem) later, Gelb emerged with Chore of Enchantment, only to have the album rejected by V2. Chicago’s Thrill Jockey ended up releasing what, against all odds, was one of Gelb’s most cohesive collections. Chore drew from the broadest palette yet. Gelb stretched from the laid-back grooves of “X-tra Wide” to the escalating rock of “Satellite” with ease. He seemed less reliant on Giant Sand as an outlet than ever before. Near the end of the ’90s, he launched his own Ow Om label. The Internet/mail-order imprint released discs from Gelb’s Official Bootleg Series.
Gelb spent a great deal of 2000 touring, orchestrating an increasingly spontaneous live show. A set list-free performance, a walkman playing snippets of previous shows, and a looping device (with 82-percent accuracy) were all used to supplement his extensive catalog of songs. More and more, both his live and studio performances began incorporating chance elements like these. At the start of the new millennium, the singer seemed busier than ever, working on a series of releases including a collection of solo piano instrumentals and a new album for Thrill Jockey. The latter project, designed as the follow-up to the intimate Hisser, was issued in early 2001 under the title Confluence, and displayed a sound closer to Giant Sand than any of Gelb’s previous solo outings. Lull, a collection of piano pieces, appeared that same year.
Gelb returned in 2003 with the similarly muted Listener album, and released Arizona Amp and Alternator in 2005. The latter included collaborations from M. Ward and Scout Niblett. ‘Sno Angel Like You, an album deeply influenced by gospel music, arrived in March 2006. Gelb spent the next five years touring both solo and with Giant Sand. The band released 2008’s Provisions and 2010’s Blurry Blue Mountain. In the spring of 2011, Gelb finally issued another solo album, entitled Alegrias. This set showcased the songwriter fronting a group of Andalusian gypsy flamenco musicians — including guitarist extraordinaire Raimundo Amador — who went under the moniker a Band of Gypsies. The album was recorded on a rooftop in Cordoba, Spain, and released by Fire Records during an extensive Giant Sand reissue campaign by the label. Gelb produced KT Tunstall’s Invisible Empire/Crescent Moon, which was released in the spring of 2013. In the late fall of that year, his own album, The Coincidentalist, appeared on New West.
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