music / Columns

Jam Central Station 12.16.12 – Ween

December 16, 2012 | Posted by Knight-of-God

Hey everyone. Hope you had a great week! I’m pretty psyched because my band, The MuckleBuck, killed at the Beachland Ballroom last friday. It’s great to go up on stage and do exactly what you want to do. If you’re interested, you can check out the whole set right here! 😀

“Alternative” rock means a lot of things to a lot of people. It defined new wave, grunge, nu-metal, and countless other rock styles outside of typical, straightforward rock and roll. In many cases “alternative” quickly became “mainstream,” at least for a time. That’s not the case with Ween. Like a handful of other artists, Ween truly encompassed what it means to be “alternative.” Without the benefit if any major radio hits or massive label support, Ween managed to build up a fiercely loyal fan base and stay together for over 25 years. Throughout that time they smashed barriers, bended genres, and made music that no one else could make.

The band started, like so many great bands before them, in an 8th grade typing class. Yes, the infamous duo of Dean and Gene Ween were in middle school when they first started the band. By the time they were 16 they had already released a pair of (now out of print) cassette tapes as well as opened for the Butthole Surfers. They also had created the “Ween mythology” of the Dean and Gene Ween and The Boognish. They wrote songs that were offensive, sexist, and absurd, mostly to amuse themselves. As sometimes happens when a band is interested in pleasing absolutely nobody but themselves, others quickly latched on. They continued to release tapes on their own, and in 1989 they were signed to Twin/Tone Records.

Their first Twin/Tone album was the double album GodWeenSatan. It was very clear from this album exactly what Ween was about, at least in that moment. The album was recorded in a living room with very little actual production work done. The opening track was “You Fucked Up” and it just got more fun from there. “L.M.L.Y.P” was an overly sexual pop/funk song that became a concert staple that would often last for 20 minutes or more, and other songs from the album would be played for years. Ween toured Europe somewhat successfully, although they didn’t do many shows in the U.S. during this time.

Their second album, The Pod was released in 1991. The album was basically recorded as a demo on a four track, and the band and record company simply decided to release it as is. The album was heavily influenced by the band’s drug use and is considered by fans to be a little difficult to get through. The band again did very little in the way of production and used a drum machine for the album. They followed the same procedure for their next album Pure Guava. Despite the fact that the album was again almost completely unproduced the band was able to sign to Elektra Records and get them to release the album as is. Pure Guava gave the band the closest thing they would see to mainstream success, with the unexpected of the single “Push th’ Little Daisies.”

Chocolate and Cheese represented a major shift for the band. They actually went into the studio for an album instead of recording on a 4 track and there was some real production work done. The album was they continued to see some minor success with the single “Voodoo Lady” and the band toured for the first time with a full band instead of pre-recorded drum tracks. They took another detour with their follow up, the country-western 12 Golden Country Greats. Of course the album only contained 10 songs, but it featured some legendary country artists on the record, and, while the songs were still absurd and shocking, they were surprisingly strong representations of the genre. For a band that had never limited themselves to any style of music this was a huge change.

Despite intially planning on heading back into the studio, Ween decided to tour behind 12 Golden Country Greats. They brought some of the studio musicians from the album on the road for a month to support the album. They then went to the Jersey Shore (in the winter) to record their next album. The Mollusk was a critically acclaimed album, and the band toured extensively behind it. They had become very comfortable as a touring entity, playing over 3 hours a night with a full band. The band would also begin releasing a variety of live albums, starting with 1999’s Paintin’ The Town Brown. The album featured live recordings from throughout the band’s career, going back to their earliest days. They then released an MP3-only album, 1999’s Craters of the Sac before their next full studio album, 2000’s White Pepper.

White Pepper would be the band’s final Elektra album, with the band beginning to explore a variety of ways to release albums through alternate methods. They began releasing live albums through their own label and they signed to Sanctuary Records for other recordings. Their live performances continued to be a huge focus for the band, although they continued to put out a huge amount of studio material as well. White Pepper was very polished and pop-oriented, and it was recorded with a full band. This continued for Quebec, a major fan favorite album.

Studio albums became less important to the band, as they continued to release a massive amount of live material as well as rarities and other unreleased songs on their own label and online. La Cucaracha wasn’t released until 2007, and the band streamed the entire album online prior to the release. They followed that up with another live release, this time releasing a full show from 1992. The band continued to stay out of the studio, however, although they toured on a regular basis.

In 2012, much to the surprise of everyone, including Dean Ween, Gene Ween (Aaron Freeman) announced the end of Ween. Freeman announced this under his given name, leaving behind the Gene Ween persona publicly. Dean Ween (Mickey Melchiodo) was taken by surprise by the news, and responded by saying that he will consider Ween to be together for as long as Dean and Gene were alive. Freeman stated that he chose to leave Ween primarily for personal reasons stemming from substance abuse.

Whether or not Ween performs together in the future is still up in the air. But the fact that they were one of the most influential and truly alternative bands for over 20 years cannot be argued. They are one of the very few bands that always appeared to be doing what they wanted to be doing musically, and they were simply happy that others were along for the journey. They wrote and recorded hundreds of songs, and there are probably hours of demo and live recordings that may never see the light of day. But Ween left behind a plethora of material to sort through, all of it intriguing, and some if actually very good. Spending some time with Ween is always worthwhile, even if you’re never sure what you’re gonna get.

RIP Ravi Shankar
Ravi Shankar, the legendary sitar player who heavily influenced the Beatles, passed away this week at 92. Shankar is by far the most well known Indian musician in western culture, primarily because of his very close relationship with George Harrison.

Northwest String Summit dates
Yonder Mountain String Band announced the dates for their annual Northwest String Summit. The 2013 event will take place at Horning’s Hideout in North Plains, OR and will run from July 18-21. No other artists have been announced yet, but this is annually the top modern bluegrass festival in the country.

Governors Ball Expands
The 2013 Governors Ball in New York City will expand to 3 days next year. The event will take place June 7-9 on Randall’s Island in New York City. You may recall that 2012 was the first year the festival was a 2 day event, so this is a pretty rapid expansion for Governors Ball.

Phish to webcast NYE
Once again Phish will be webcasting their entire New Years run from Madison Square Garden. Fans can order all four shows for $58.99 or they can order an individual show 12/28-30 for $14.99 and 12/31 for $19.99. Fans who order the shows will also be able to watch archived streams.

STS9 announce new album and tour
STS9 will be releasing a new album in the early part of 2013. No word on a title yet, but they plan on releasing a single in February. The band will also be embarking on a month-long tour starting in February. This will be their first national tour in a while.

02.21.2013 :: Crystal Ballroom :: Portland, OR
02.22.2013 :: Showbox (SoDo) :: Seattle, WA
02.23.2013 :: McDonald Theatre :: Eugene, OR
02.24.2013 :: Eureka Theater :: CA
02.27.2013 :: Senator Theater :: Chico, CA
02.28.2013 :: Montbleu Resort :: Stateline, NV
03.01.2013 :: Fox Theatre :: Oakland, CA
03.02.2013 :: Tha Palladium :: Los Angeles, CA
03.07.2013 :: Cain’s Ballroom :: Tulsa, OK
03.08.2013 :: House of Blues :: Dallas, TX
03.09.2013 :: BUKU Festival :: New Orleans, LA
03.12.2013 :: Liberty Hall :: Lawrence, KS
03.13.2013 :: Liberty Hall :: Lawrence, KS
03.14.2013 :: The Pageant :: St. Louis, MO
03.15.2013 :: Riverside Theater :: Milwaukee, WI
03.16.2013 :: Congress Theater :: Chicago, IL
03.17.2013 :: House of Blues :: Chicago, IL
03.20.2013 :: Music Farm :: Charleston, SC
03.21.2013 :: Georgia Theater :: Athens, GA
03.22.2013 :: Georgia Theater :: Athens, GA
03.23.2013 :: The Orange Peel :: Asheville, NC
03.24.2013 :: The Orange Peel :: Asheville, NC

Lotus announce new album
Lotus will be releasing a new album on SCI Fidelity Records on February 19. Build was recorded on analog tapes using live instruments before adding their trademark electronic elements.

North Mississippi Allstars to tour
The North Mississippi Allstars will tour in 2013. The band will feature Lightin’ Malcom on bass, since the band’s regular basis, Chris Chew, is still recovering from a major health issue earlier this year.

anuary 30 Hattiesburg, MS—Brewsky’s
January 31 Baton Rouge, LA—The Varsity Theatre
February 1 Houston, TX—Last Concert
February 2 Austin, TX—The Parish
February 5 Phoenix, AZ—Rhythm Room
February 6 Solana Beach, CA—Belly Up
February 7 Los Angeles, CA—The Grammy Museum
February 8 San Francisco, CA—The Independent
February 9 San Francisco, CA—The Independent
February 11 Eugene, OR—WOW Hall
February 12 Portland, OR—Doug Fir
February 13 Seattle, WA—Tractor Tavern
February 14 Spokane, WA—The Knitting Factory w/Leftover Salmon
February 15 Missoula, MT—UC Ballroom
February 16 Bozeman, MT—The Filling Station
February 19 Lincoln, NE—Bourbon Theatre
February 20 Omaha, NE—The Waiting Room
February 21 Kansas City, MO—Knuckleheads
February 22 Tulsa, OK—Cain’s Ballroom
February 23 Little Rock, AR—Revolution Music Room

Strings & Sol
December 12-16, 2012
Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa
Tulum, Mexico
Yonder Mountain String Band will perform 3 shows, and Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, and The Infamous Stringdusters will each be performing 2 shows.

Warren Haynes Christmas Jam
December 15, 2012
US Cellular Civic Center
Asheville, NC
Performers include: Warren Haynes Band, String Cheese Incident, Blind Boys of Alabama, Sheryl Crow, Trombone Shorty, and many others.

S.S. Coachella
December 16-19, 2012 (Bahamas)
December 19-23, 2012 (Jamaica)
Departing from Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Performers include: Pulp, Hot Chip, Yeasayer, Girl Talk, James Murphy, Sleigh Bells, and many others.

Mayan Holidaze
December 17-21, 2012
Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa
Tulum, Mexico
Umphrey’s McGee, The Disco Biscuits, and STS9 will each perform two shows. STS9 will also perform a special midnight set commemorating the beginning of the new Great Cycle of the Mayan Calendar.

Jam Cruise
January 7-12, 2013
Performers include: moe., Medeski, Martin, Scofield & Wood, Funky Meters, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Univers, Big Gigantic, Lettuce, ALO, Tea Leaf Green, Greensky Bluegrass, Hot Buttered Rum, and many others.

Island Exodus IV
January 16-20, 2013
Negril, Jamaica
Gov’t Mule will host the event and perform multiple sets. No word on other performers.

Panic En La Playa Dos
January 27-31, 2013
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
This event will be the return of Widespread Panic to the stage after a year-long hiatus. Tickets go on sale August 24.

Jam in the Sand
March 1-5, 2013
Breezes Grand Resort
Negril, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra’s first Jamaican event. This event will feature multiple DSO shows as well as three Keller Williams sets and other activities

Buku Music Project
March 8-9, 2013
Mardi Gras World Warehouse
New Orleans, LA
Performers include: Kid Cudi, Calvin Harris, Primus, Passion Pit, STS9, Zedd, Major Lazer, Big Gigantic, Datsik, Lettuce, and many others

Suwannee Springfest
March 21-24, 2012
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Performers include: Peter Rowan, Keller and the Keels, Leftover Salmon, Donna the Buffalo, The Travelin’ McCoury’s, Elephant Revival, and many others.

March 21-24, 2012
Killington Resort
Killington, VT

April 12-14, 2013
April 19-21, 2013

Wanee Festival
April 18-20, 2013
Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL

Hangout Music Festival
May 17-19, 2013
Gulf Shores, AL

Summer Camp Music Festival
May 23-36
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
Performers include: moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Trey Anastasio Band, The Avett Brothers, Yonder Mountain String Band, Thievery Corp., Big Gigantic, Lettuce, Cornmeal, Keller Williams, and many others.

May 23-26, 2013
Cumberland, MD

Mountain Jam
June 6-9, 2013
Hunter Mountain, NY

Governors Ball Music Festival
June 7-9, 2013
Randall’s Island
New York City, NY

June 13-16
Manchester, TN

Solid Sound Festival
June 21-23, 2013
Museum of Contemporary Art
North Adams, MA
Hosted by Wilco

High Sierra Music Festival
July 4-7, 2013
Quincy, CA

All Good Music Festival
July 18-21, 2013
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH

Northwest String Summit
July 18-21, 2013
Horning’s Hideout
North Plains, OR

Floyd Fest
July 25-28, 2013
Floyd, VA
Performers include: The Lumineers, John Butler Trio, Yonder Mountain String Band, Railroad Earth, Trampled by Turtles, Blitzen Trapper, and many others.

Newport Folk Festival
July 27-28, 2013
Newport, RI

Newport Jazz Festival
August 2-4, 2013
Newport, RI

August 9-11, 2013
Snow Ridge Ski Resort
Turin, NY

Outside Lands
August 9-11
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA

Catskill Chill
September 6-8, 2013
Camp Minglewood
Hancock, NY

Austin City Limits
October 4-6, 2013
October 11-13, 2013

Thanks again for hanging out. Remember to check out more Jam on Facebook Twitter. Until next week, Jam On!


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