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Giant Sand

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Giant Sand
Giant Sand performing in Faenza, Italy in 2006
Giant Sand performing in Faenza, Italy in 2006
Background information
Also known asGiant Sandworms, Giant Giant Sand
OriginTucson, Arizona
GenresAlternative rock, americana, roots rock, alternative country
Years active1980–present
MembersHowe Gelb
Tom Larkins
Nick Augustine
Thøger T. Lund
Anders Pedersen
Peter Dombernowsky
Nicolaj Heyman
Brian Lopez
Gabriel Sullivan
Jon Villa
Iris Jakobsen
Asger Christensen
Maggie Björklund
Lonna Kelley
Past membersJohn Convertino
Joey Burns
Rainer Ptacek
Chris Cacavas
Paula Jean Brown
Iain Shedden
Andrew Collberg
Billy Sedlmayr

Giant Sand (formerly Giant Sandworms) is an American musical group from Tucson, Arizona, United States.[1] Its most constant member is singer-songwriter Howe Gelb.[1] The groups have developed idiosyncratic sound rooted in alternative country, but touching on a wide range of other styles and featuring Gelb's beatnik-influenced vocals and songwriting.[2] Since about 2012, they have also performed as Giant Giant Sand when featuring a larger ensemble than their traditional four to six musicians.



Howe Gelb, also a prolific solo artist, started the group as Giant Sandworms in the late 1970s in Tucson, Arizona. In 1980, an EP was released entitled Will Wallow and Roam After the Ruin. After which Gelb sacked the other members.[1] 1983 saw the release of Valley of Rain on Enigma Records with the shortened name of Giant Sand. It had Scott Garber on bass, Winston Watson on drums for most tracks, with Tommy Larkins drumming on the others.[3] By 1990, John Convertino had become the band's drummer. Multi-instrumentalist Joey Burns joined around that time. Convertino and Burns formed Calexico in 1996, later leaving the group to concentrate on that project. In 2004, saw the first release without Convertino and Burns; the Is All Over the Map album.[4]



Members have included keyboardist Chris Cacavas (of Green on Red),[5] bassist Paula Jean Brown (who was briefly a member of The Go-Go's and was married to Gelb at the time),[6] Mark Walton (of The Dream Syndicate and Continental Drifters), drummer Tom Larkins (later to become a Jonathan Richman sideman[7]) who rejoined Giant Sand in 2019[8] (without quitting Richman's band), and Iain Shedden, drummer with Australian band The Saints. For a long while the band's rhythm section consisted of John Convertino and Joey Burns. In the early 2000s Howe Gelb reinvented the band again – this time with players from Denmark.

Guest artists over the last three decades have included Victoria Williams, Neko Case, Juliana Hatfield, PJ Harvey, Vic Chesnutt, Steve Wynn, Vicki Peterson, Rainer Ptacek, M. Ward, Isobel Campbell, Ilse DeLange of The Common Linnets, nearly all members of the band Poi Dog Pondering, and Indiosa Patsy Jean (Gelb and Brown's daughter).[9]



Giant Sand

  • 1985: Valley of Rain (Enigma Records)
  • 1986: Ballad of a Thin Line Man (Zippo)
  • 1988: Storm (What Goes On)
  • 1988: The Love Songs (Homestead)
  • 1989: Giant Sandwich (Homestead)
  • 1989: Long Stem Rant (Homestead)
  • 1990: Swerve (Demon)
  • 1991: Ramp (Restless/Rough Trade)
  • 1992: Center of the Universe (Restless)
  • 1993: Purge & Slouch (Brake Out)
  • 1993: Stromausfall (Return to Sender)
  • 1994: Glum (Imago)
  • 1995: Goods and Services (Brake Out)
  • 1995: Backyard Barbecue Broadcast (Koch)
  • 1997: Official Bootleg Series Volume 1: Build Your Own Night It's Easy (¡Epiphany!)
  • 2000: Chore of Enchantment (Loose)
  • 2000: Official Bootleg Series Volume 2: The Rock Opera Years (OW OM Finished Recorded Products)
  • 2001: Official Bootleg Series Volume 3: Unsungglum (OW OM Finished Recorded Products)
  • 2001: Selections Circa 1990–2000 (V2 Records Benelux)
  • 2002: Cover Magazine (Thrill Jockey)
  • 2002: Infiltration of Dreams (Mucchio Extra)
  • 2003: Official Bootleg Series Volume 5: Too Many Spare Parts in the Yard Too Close at Hand (OW OM Recorded Products)
  • 2004: Is All Over the Map (Thrill Jockey)[4]
  • 2008: *proVISIONS* (Thrill Jockey)
  • 2008: Provisional Supplement (OW OM Recorded Products)
  • 2010: Blurry Blue Mountain (Fire)
  • 2015: Heartbreak Pass (New West)
  • 2018: Returns To Valley Of Rain (Fire)
  • 2019: Recounting The Ballads Of Thin Line Men (Fire)

Giant Giant Sand

  • 2012: Tucson: a Country Rock Opera (Fire)
  • 2016: Return to Tucson (Fire)

Melted Wires

  • 2010 Melted Wires (self-released)

Howe Gelb

  • 2011: Snarl Some Piano (Scatterland)


  • "Good Luck Suckers" Giant Sand's concert at the Trabendo in Paris – France 2016

Editing in DVD with the documentary "Sounds of Tucson" – Director Guillaume Dero – La Huit.

  • Score for Ingenius (2011) – feature film with Jeremy Renner (Bleiberg Distribution)
  • High and Dry: Where the Desert Meets Rock and Roll (2006) – a documentary about Tucson musicians which includes music and interviews with Giant Sand members[10]
  • Drunken Bees (1996) – a documentary about Giant Sand by Marianne Dissard.


  1. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 964. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ Jason Ankeny. Giant Sand: Biography, AllMusic, accessed March 27, 2019
  3. ^ Perlich, Tim (August 9, 2018). "Giant Sand Returns To Valley Of Rain". The Perlich Post. Retrieved August 12, 2023.
  4. ^ a b "Giant Sand: Is All Over the Map". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 12, 2023.
  5. ^ Lepper, Joe (January 27, 2012). "Giant Sand – Highlights from Fire Records' 25th anniversary 16 Album Reissue Series". No Depression. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  6. ^ [1] [permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Jonathan Richman Biography". High Road Touring. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  8. ^ "Giant Sand in Reutlingen: Konzert im franz.K – zum Schluss hat Howe Gelb nichts als gute Laune". December 6, 2019.
  9. ^ [2] Archived September 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "High and Dry: Where the Desert Meets Rock 'n Roll". Upstairs Film. 2007. Retrieved August 2, 2008.