(this piece was published by Planet Jackson Hole)
…Also Ben Folds, Moon Hooch, Teton Serenade, Sneaky Pete, Chanman Roots Band, Wyatt Lowe and beyond
The mass of music offerings for this Halloween weekend is unprecedented. This is off-season?!
The Deaner, Dean Ween, Michael “Mickey” Melchiondo, Jr.—he’s all the same beast of a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and yes, a fishing guide. I first heard his international cult band Ween in 1992 on a mix tape, the same tape that introduced me to Phish. In 1984, Deaner co-founded Ween as a middle school student with Aaron Freeman (Gene Ween) in New Hope, Pennsylvania. This weekend, he’ll bring his Dean Ween Group, which includes the touring members of Ween except Gene. The super double-bill pairs them with The Meat Puppets courtesy of KHOL, Jackson’s community radio station.
Seeing Ween three times in the late ‘90s was as mind warping as listening to The Pod (1991) or Pure Guava (1992), two of their nine strikingly non-mainstream studio albums that are like nothing I’ve heard before or since. Deaner’s fresh release Oct. 21, The Deaner Album, brings his love of classic guitar rock to fourteen tunes including four instrumentals, and sound waves that echo cracked country and the quirky mix of soul, funk, metal and punk that has defined his career.
“After Ween [took a four-year hiatus in 2012], I put my guitar down for almost a year,” Deaner says in a press release (he hasn’t given a proper interview in years according to his publicist). “I’ll never do that again. I’m so into practicing and writing and being good at my craft right now. I’m back in playoff shape. I write and play and record all day, every day, and I’m going to keep it there for the rest of my life.”
At times, The Deaner Album plays out, like a Ween discography bookend with splashes of digital backing drum tracks, the same way Ween performed as a duo for over a decade. And, of course, there’s some ridiculously hilarious subject matter (“Exercise Man,” “Bundle of Joy”) and other surprises like “SchwartzePete”—a tight instrumental and loving tribute to Les Paul, originally written long ago for a TV pilot with Deaner playing all of the instruments. Moreover, it’s a trippy set of accessible guitar-inspired anthems. The biggest change for Deaner was moving into his own studio, converted from an old chicken coop in the woods of Western New Jersey on a patch of land donated by a friend’s father.
“I think finally having my own studio has been a big part of why this record is as good as it is,” said the forty-six year old who also happens to hold a captain’s license and run his own charter fishing company out of Belmar, New Jersey. “All the gear I’ve acquired over the years that’s been in storage and my garage and my attic, it’s all in one place now. I’m there pretty much all day, every day, all night, every night, doing something—recording, practicing, mixing. It’s in the country, in the woods, nobody can hear us, and you can go outside in your underwear and smoke a cigarette or blow off a grenade and nobody’s going to hear you.”
As for The Meat Puppets—also a product of the mid-80s—they have sustained a career via playing hard, loud and fast, but with the sensibilities of classic artists like ZZ Top, The Grateful Dead, and Neil Young. The long, storied epic of the band is worth checking out, though their association with Nirvana is undeniably their most memorable mainstream footnote. After re-emerging as Nirvana’s opening act on their 1993 tour, The Meat Puppets appeared on MTV Unplugged with the famed band, which covered three Meat Puppets songs that led to a commercial breakthrough for the band. KHOL presents Dean Ween Group with The Meat Puppets, 9 p.m. Saturday at Pink Garter Theatre. $33-$35. PinkGarterTheatre.com, 733-1500.
As of late, pop-rock pianist/vocalist Ben Folds has been encouraging his audiences to fly paper airplanes to stage with song requests, giving fans a chance to choose from the 150 or so tunes in his brain. As a songwriter, his lyrics have often been deeply personal. His biggest hit with Ben Folds Five, “The Brick,” is about a high school girlfriend’s abortion. It was released in 1997, the same year he stayed on the road for over a year including the infamous H.O.R.D.E. Festival.
Folds has been back in the limelight more in recent years as a judge on NBC’s a capella competition reality show, The Sing Off. His most recent release is 2015’s So There, an eight-track set of chamber pop originals recorded with New York City-based classical sextet yMusic, as well as his “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra,” which features the Nashville Symphony. Ben Folds, 7 p.m. Monday at the Center Theater. $81-$101. JHCenterForTheArts.org, 733-4900.
Ladies Serenade the Tetons
The 3rd annual Teton Serenade is a dude-less, all-female variety show that has sold out the last two years. This year’s event broadens the scope of backgrounds from career musicians to enthusiasts, and the presence of more songwriters. Most of the performers do not have a regular gig or stage on which to perform outside of the open mic circuit.
“We just like to try to find local women musicians who might not have opportunity or even time to get out and play on stage,” said co-organizer Jenny Landgraf preceding last year’s show. “Having this concert of women-only might get some on stage who might not otherwise do it, so Teton Serenade acts to empower women.”
Ten women will be featured—Seadar Rose, Sage Hibberd, Jennifer Ford, Tasha Ghozali, Veronica Verdin, Hannah Leigh, Lee Robert, Lina Marquis, and organizers Landgraf and Sally McCullough. Teton Serenade, 8 p.m. Saturday at Dornan’s in Moose. $12 at Dornan’s, The Liquor Store, and Valley Bookstore. Dinner served until 7 p.m. 733-2415.
Spooky riffs and more costume parties
Moon Hooch with Honeycomb, 9 p.m. Monday at Pink Garter Theatre. $23-$25. If there’s a better concoction for this twisted holiday than Moon Hooch, let me know. Jazz, groovy funk, synth-pop and pulsing electro dance music, Moon Hooch is a Brooklyn-based double horn-and-percussion trio that met while attending the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. NPR called their sophomore release This Is Cave Music “irresistible,” and it’s not far from house music, but more primitive, jagged and raw. Honeycomb—known as the “vocal cord conductor”—will be the guest vocalist in an otherwise instrumental outfit.
Sneaky Pete & the Secret Weapons, 9 p.m. Monday at the Knotty Pine in Victor. $10. Three full sets with “a stupendous surprise planned for set two,” The Weapons have been touring the great Northwest and Rocky Mountain circuit as hard as any band from Jackson Hole’s original-minded band history, and it shows. Get funked on, with special guests to boot, to boot, to boot.
Chanman Roots Band, 7:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday (the festive party) at the Silver Dollar Showroom. Free. If your party-hopping budget is at off-season levels, here’s your free ticket with a high value. What has become a tradition at the Silver Dollar Showroom in recent years is a reggae Halloween on Saturday with local eight-piece Chanman Roots Band, decked out by The Celestial Horns and a gang of backup vocalists. The costume contest runs 9 to 10 p.m. for these categories: best female, best male, and best couple with the prize being dinner for two at the Silver Dollar Grill.
Wyatt Lowe & the Mayhem Kings, 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. Free. The rockabilly fright fest will be in full affect as you straddle a saddle or cut moves on the valley’s biggest dance floor. Also a costume contest and Lowe guarantees “to lure you thrill seekers into our throne to be tranced into insanity.”
HalloBASS, 10 p.m. Saturday; DJ Capella, 10 p.m. Monday at Town Square Tavern. $TBD. Heavy
hitting electronic music is a staple of the downtown throw down.
Halloween Scaraoke, 8 to 11 p.m. at the Silver Dollar Showroom. Free. A new offering this year, get weird with festive karaoke on anthems like “The Monster Mash.”
Aaron Davis is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, studio engineer, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan Tour.