Monthly Archives: May 2012
Head over to Neil Young’s website for a free 40 minute film from Director Bernard Shakey (aka Neil Young). Music from the new album Americana and a preview of the commissioned artwork of Shepard Fairey, which I wish I could be lucky enough to get my hands on.
This is a pleasant surprise…
Tuesday pretty much sucked. After a long day of work and a delightful meeting with a lawyer I drag myself home and turn on the computer to read that bluegrass/folk legend Doc Watson passed away at 89. That was bad enough but then I read that Aaron Freeman was hanging up his alter ego Gene Ween and ‘closing the door’ on the band he formed with Mickey Melchiondo (Dean Ween). Damn.
I only saw Doc Watson once. But I really don’t count it as it was at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Fransisco and I was half a mile away from the stage with half a dozen empty beer bottles laying around my faux Indian blanket. I do have a few of his records (yes, vinyl) and I have been a fan of his music for what seems like a really long time. His picking style was just damn impressive. If you have never heard his music give it listen…
But then I see the fallout from a short interview Aaron Freeman gave to Rolling Stone where he seemed to announce that Ween had broken up.
So does that mean the end for Ween, the band that Freeman formed with high school friend Mickey Melchiondo (a.k.a. Dean Ween) in New Hope, Pennsylvania, in the mid-Eighties?
“Pretty much, yeah,” says Freeman. “It’s been a long time, 25 years. It was a good run.”
After this story broke Aaron’s partner in the band, Mickey Melchiondo, posted this on the band’s Facebook page…
They never have had the best communication between members (Mickey released a load of demos free on the net without approving it with Aaron), but if you are breaking up the band you might want to inform the other members of the group and management of your decision. Sounds to me like this was not a very thought out statement from Aaron.
The guy has been going through a lot these past few years. He had a very public melt down in Vancouver last year…a very intoxicated show were he forgot lyrics, tuned his guitar endlessly and had the band walk off leaving him onstage alone.
Arron hit rehab and by all counts he seems to be doing great and he may be trying to distant himself from what he precieves as ‘bad influences’…and that is his fun, substance using alter ego Gene Ween. So he has taken out on his own it would seem. Too bad he chose to release such a bland solo debut with his all Rod McKuen cover album MARVELOUS CLOUDS.
There seems to have been a little bit of tension between the founding members of the band for the last few years. Which is understandable. They are getting older and are just not as close as they once were. Mickey has a fishing business he seems to love. Clearly the passion is not as red hot as it once was.
Ween may broken up for good or this might just an extended break from each other. I hope Aaron can get to a happier phase of his life.
The Boognish is dead, long live the Boognish…
On July 22, 2006 my wife and myself made the drive down to one of my favorite concert venues, the Greek Theater in Berkeley, CA . The Greek is in the hills overlooking the campus of UC Berkeley. From the top of the lawn you can see the Golden Gate Bridge on a clear day. Needless to say it is one of the more beautiful venues that I have ever had the pleasure of attending. On this day we sat in the bowl on the hard concrete and watched Ween take the stage in daylight, playing for about an hour and twenty minutes. Then the show was finished off by the always visually exciting band of lovable weirdos from Oklahoma City the Flaming Lips. These photos were taken with a old Sony Cyber-shot digital camera…
It seems like they are rolling out these videos every few days now…so, here is the latest black and white video oldie to “God Save the Queen” from the album Americana by Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Americana is due out on June 06, but you can preorder the album on Neil Young.com.
Bob Dylan turns 71 years old today. He is possibly my single favorite artist of all time. Nobody has mastered phrasing like he has. His couplets bring up different images and meanings. His songs make me feel.
I remember the first Dylan album I bought…Greatest Hits…and I bought it used for 1.99. None of my friends liked him and they would sing in a mocking ‘Dylan voice’ when one of his songs came on the radio (usually Lay, Lady Lay or Rainy Day Women), but for two bucks I thought I would give it a try.
The album was full of wonderful songs, but two of the tracks floored me. It Ain’t Me Babe and Positively 4th Street. Those two songs were so cutting, so expertly crafted. Dylan showed me how powerful words can be. I played those songs over and over for months. My sixteen year old mind was laid open and when I was able to afford a Dylan record I bought one.
Everyone has a favorite Dylan period and as much as I like his early works I am most fond of his later period. His voice of rough gravel roads. The albums Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, and Modern Times are some of his strongest work ever. And Tell Tail Signs: The Bootleg Series Volume 8 shows you how strong the material left on the cutting floor really is.
At 72 Bob shows no signs of slowing down. He still is giving concerts all over the world on his Never Ending Tour. Rumor is that his new album is finished and about to have a release date set (an even juicer rumor of it containing a 14 minute long song about the Titanic). More of the Bootleg Series to be released, possibly the complete Basement Tapes or the complete Supper Club recording. And hopefully volume two of his excellent autobiography Chronicles.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Zimmerman.
Enjoy two very different versions of the same song…Jokerman. One of his best songs of the pretty dry 80’s. First the official video for the song from the Infidels album. Produced by the then super hot Mark Knofler from Dire Straits and featuring the Jamaican rhythm section of Sly and Robbie.
Then the same song promoted on Late Night with David Letterman with a pick-up punk rock band from LA called The Plugz. Which version is better? I can’t decide…although I love the rawness of the Letterman performance.
John Cummings (aka Johnny Ramone) worked on this book while he was fighting cancer. I am not sure if he had the sense that cancer was going to win the battle, but if he did this memoir is not a sad, hang your head look back at his life. This is Johnny Ramone telling the reader about his views on life, country and money. His passion for the band he founded and when he felt mistakes were made by them. He is honest about his feelings for his band mates and the decisions they made together. He thought Joey was a sickly prim a-donna, Dee Dee was just flat-out crazy, Tommy was the heart of the band.
He talks about his conservative political views in the very liberal rock and roll world. His goal for retirement, which was ‘don’t spend a dime…save, save, save’. He sheds some light on some of his close friends in showbiz…he was best man at Lisa Marie Presley and Nickolas Cage’s wedding, two of his closest friends were Rob Zombie and Eddie Vedder. He speaks about his cancer and his lack of medical treatment when he first thought something was wrong. It makes for a very sad ending.
The book is packed with photos and some of Johnny’s famous lists. The book reads in a very conversational tone. But overall, other than it coming from Johnny’s pen, the book offers no new revelations about the Ramones. Everett True’s book HEY HO LET’S GO – THE STORY OF THE RAMONES is the book to go to for all the Ramones history. Still there is a charm and simplicity about this book. If you love the Ramones and everything they did for the future of music you owe it to yourself to get to know Johnny…sadly reading this book is the only way to do that right now.
3.5 out of 5 Stars