Category: Ween

Ween sets the table for the inevitable reunion

Photo: Aaron "Gene Ween" Freeman. Credit: Shore Fire Media

A world without Ween? We can only hope that some other band will step forward to write more songs about weasels, all the while attempting to reach across the genre aisle to unite fans of jam bands and sea chanteys. Ween is done, says principal Aaron "Gene Ween" Freeman, who, on his recently released solo effort "Marvelous Clouds," has apparently moved on to soft rock crooning.

Yet no breakup is complete with the airing of some public drama. "This is news to me," wrote Freeman's partner-in-Ween Mickey "Dean Ween" Melchiondo on Facebook.

So is Ween kaput?

Freeman was pretty direct in an interview with Rolling Stone, telling the mag that his alter ego of Gene Ween is retired. "For me it's a closed book," he said of the band, which is just a few years shy of its 30th anniversary. "In life sometimes, in the universe, you have to close some doors to have others open."

That, despite Melchiondo's online plea of ignorance, doesn't seem to leave much room for interpretation, at least for now. There's been no additional statement from either camp and no updates to Ween's official website or Facebook page. 

Yet beloved cult acts rarely disappear for good these days, and events such as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Outside Lands have given such artists a forever home. Ween (est. 1984) has continued to be a draw, even selling out the Wiltern in 2011 on a tour that had its share of on-stage catastrophies

The band, which used a jokey, smart-aleck exterior to mask plenty of catchy, complex music and thought-provoking psychedelia, has had its share of near breakups. 

"I liken it to more of a marriage between two people than a band," Freeman told The Times last year. "And with that comes its ups and downs and its times of intimacy and distance and miscommunication. But as long as we're still walking on the earth, Ween will still be there."

And if not today, we should reiterate that a 30th anniversary is but a couple of years away. 

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Gene Ween's 'Marvelous Clouds': Fans text reactions

An appreciation: Doc Watson, flatpicker, song stylist, messenger

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Aaron "Gene Ween" Freeman. Credit: Shore Fire Media

Gene Ween's 'Marvelous Clouds': Fans text reactions

Aaron "Gene Ween" Freeman

Last week Aaron Freeman, best known to freaks the world over as Gene Ween, released his curious new soft rock album, "Marvelous Clouds," a straight-faced examination of the music of 1960s singer/poet Rod McKuen. Those who know Freeman's work with Ween, though, can appreciate that by "straight-faced," we probably mean "brimming with irony."

Created along with producer/songwriter/TV composer Ben Vaughn, "Marvelous Clouds" features McKuen gems such as "Mr. Kelly," about carefree days spent rolling in the grass and frolicking on the beach; and "Doesn't Anybody Know My Name," which begins with the sound of trains on tracks and is about a soldier returning from the war and finding his old world vanished (and his dog gone lame). "Jean" is a sticky, saccharine ode to a woman, featuring red roses, drifting clouds, green leaves and "hills ablaze with a warm yellow haze." 

As a way to interact with his fans and maybe share some emotional moments, Freeman made public his cellphone number and invited listeners to text him their reactions to "Marvelous Clouds." That number -- (609) 542-0751 -- is still active, and has received more than 2,000 messages from fans so far.

Freeman recently shared some of the most inspiring text messages. Below are a few highlights (typos and misspellings intact).

"Hi Aaron. The new album rules! So chilled out. I plan to play it the next time I make love to my girl. U should be proud of the album."

"I always thought you were adoreable... cute.... quirky.... Marvelous Clouds says Aaron Freeman is SEXY!"

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Saturday's Ween show: Train wreck or concert bliss?

Ween

Considering that the guys in Ween, who are featured in Saturday's Times, built part of their legend on their alleged fondness for huffing household cleansers and the like, they have never been known for their grimly sober stage shows. In fact, one of the last times we saw Ween in concert some five or so years ago, a bottle of Jack barely left the vicinity of Dean Ween's puffy lips. But it didn't seem to negatively affect the proceedings -- Ween played for nearly three hours that night, including many sumptuous cuts off of "The Mollusk," one of their most accomplished works.

If only the crowd in Vancouver, Canada, had gotten so lucky the other night. According to several blog reports, their concert on Jan. 24 was a sorrowful catastrophe, with Gene Ween (nee Aaron Freeman) so wasted that the rest of the band eventually abandoned him on stage, but only after he interrupted songs with extraneous guitar tunings, botched lyrics and weird vocals, and sometimes simply staggered around amuck. There's video floating around but we don't want to be responsible for spreading it because we still smile (in spite of our blushing at some of the lyrics) when we hear the raunch country classic "... Up a Rope." Wait, actually, we don't have those kinds of scruples. What the hell, here's the video.

According to reports from the next nights in Seattle and Portland, Ore., Ween got its act together quick and turned in stellar shows that left the fans blissed out enough to flood the band's Facebook page with accolades. So what will we have in store for us Saturday when they come to the Wiltern? Let's hope the business side of Ween's righteous mullet-friendly party-rock. In the meantime, read our Saturday story on how a band with no new album but a devoted legion of fans manages to sell out the Wiltern.

-- Margaret Wappler

Photo credit: Jimmy McGinley

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