My first experience on stage with Howe Gelb was a 35 minute excursion of sweating bullets and sheer guessing. Brian Lopez, Sergio Mendoza and myself had spent weeks working on the handful of songs Howe had asked us to learn for his induction into the Tucson “Tammies” hall of fame, only to be bludgeoned with songs we had never heard, and new chords to the songs we thought we knew. Since then I feel I’ve been immersed in the greatest music school there is, and it is called Giant Sand. Brian (who ranks high as one of my favorite songwriters) and I have taken this off the cuff, anything goes mentality into our new group, XIXA. There is no way in hell our music would sound like it does now if we hadn’t spent the last few years playing with Howe… and I dare say Howe might say the same about playing with us. Songwriting is a craft that should live and breathe and change with the world, and Howe has certainly instilled that in Brian and I. “Don’t insult the future by rehearsing” Howe often tells us… I can live with that.