New Hope favorite son Mickey Melchiondo (aka Dean Ween) brought his Dean Ween Group to John and Peter’s in New Hope Wednesday night to warm up for their upcoming tour, which will kick off at the Otto Bar in Baltimore.
Having not known about the gig until reading about it on Facebook an hour before it was to start, I was not happy about going out in the rain and dragging myself downtown, but boy was I glad I did.
Considering the show wasn’t even announced till about 7 p.m., it was rather surprising that the place was so packed on a nasty Wednesday night, but when the band hit the stage at 10 p.m., it was standing room only.
And what a night of music it was.
Leading his band through an evening of old and new tunes, Micky and the boys lit the place up for a banging 90-minute set of high-powered rock. Setting a blistering pace with the new killer instrumental Dickie Betts, an ode to the Allman Brothers guitarist by the same name, Mickey and guitar ace Joe Kramer wove a wonderful tapestry of harmony guitar parts. Joe’s thick Les Paul guitar backing Mickey’s Fender Strat tones evoked all the best of the Allman Brothers’ guitar work.
The band whipped out a few more tunes four-piece including It’s Gonna Be a Long Night, eternal favorite Piss Up A Rope, Ode to Life, and My Own Bare Hands (all with Mick on vocals), then Moistboyz front man and long time collaborator Guy Heller popped onto stage for lead vocals.
From there on, they tore through an evening of old and new material — Ween songs like a steaming version of Gabrielle and A Tear For Eddie, plus a number of new originals which I believe were being played for the first time in public like Night Crawler (written by Mickey and a John and Peter’s bartender), Bums, and I’ll Take It Break It (a personal favorite), I’m Gonna Get High, and One For Garry.And just for good measure, a few cover tunes, the best of which was a great Sweet Jane complete with a long guitar intro.
I can’t say enough good things about this band: Guy Heller’s naked-to-the-waist, chain-smoking, man-on-fire act is as strong as any other front man in modern rock and his lyrics are brilliant. This was the group’s first gig and they only managed two days of rehearsal, but they came on like a freight train. Ray Kubian on drums, and New York City’s favorite bass player, Dave Dreiwitz, are a sledgehammer rhythm section. Ray’s solid, trip hammer beat is the perfect engine for the act and Dave’s wonderful, spot-on bass cannot be surpassed.
And the guitar playing…well, it’s just too good and their styles so different. Mick’s claw hammer, all-wrong style of playing is perfectly backed by Joe Kramer’s perfect fingering and delicate technique.So different, and yet they play like they are joined at the hip.
I can’t recommend this band highly enough. Check out their upcoming shows and make one if you possibly can. You won’t regret it.