Photo by Mark Adams

The Deaner

You can't put your finger on it

Like a jackrabbit, the music of Dean Ween is a little hard to get a handle on. He’s a coyote and a trickster. He’s got the guitar-playing hands of a virtuosic gearhead with the heart of a Zappa-esque outsider artist. He’s a stylistic chameleon. He’s a comedian.

Dean Ween isn’t even his real name (it’s Mickey Melchiondo). 

His band Ween, formed in 1984 alongside childhood friend Aaron Freemen (who performs under the name Gene Ween), is known for semi-jokey tunes like “Bananas and Blow.” 

The song sounds a bit like Bryan Ferry covering a Jimmy Buffett parody. 

Ween’s done country albums. They’ve done filthy sex funk. They’ve done a little bit of everything, and they’ve done it effortlessly. Capping-off a successful summer tour at his day job, Dean Ween is now on a short run of dates with his side-project, the Dean Ween Group. 

With the Dean Ween Group, Ween seems to feel a bit freer to indulge all his musical impulses, letting the Dean Ween shtick fade into the background. But don’t expect anything exceedingly different. They even riff on a lot of Ween tunes. 

Back in the day, Phish showed Ween some love, which endeared him to the jam-band crowd. So there’s a bit of that in the mix, with tunes like “Dickey Betts,” a 13-minute instrumental tribute to the Allman Brothers. 

There’s also irreverent tunes like “Exercise Man.” Over up-tempo country-rock Ween sings: “He’ll die at 57 of a heart attack / but he’ll ride that fucking bike as hard as he can. / He’s the exercise man.”

Last time Ween was in town, he followed his set at Hi-Fi’s main hall by joining the funk jam for an impromptu set over in the lounge. Which just goes to show, you should never turn your back on the Deaner. That’s when he’ll surprise you.

Dean Ween Group plays with Keith Kenny 9 pm Thursday, Sept. 13, at Hi-Fi Music Hall; $20 advance, $25 door, 21-plus. — Will Kennedy