Wednesday night, Dean Ween returned to NOLA and painted the town brown with a little help from his friends in the Dean Ween Group and Claude Coleman Jr.’s band, Amandla. Weeners from all over the city emerged from a haze of smoke and lackadaisically found their way to Tipitina’s. Dean Ween Group is the side-project of goofy, cult guitar legend Dean Ween of Ween, in which he writes solo music and jams with touring guest players. Often part of the group are other Ween members Dave Dreiwitz, Glenn McClelland and Claude Coleman, Jr. He just released his debut, The Deaner Album, and has been on a mini-tour to promote it. In the early days of the group’s formation, they were known to play mostly Ween songs. However, since the production of the new album, less and less Ween tracks have been making the setlists. After spending January in the northeast, DWG are now on the second leg of their tour, starting in New Orleans. The current cast is Mickey Melchiondo (Dean Ween) on guitar and vocals, Dave Dreiwitz on bass, Joe Kramer on guitar, Ray Kubian on drums, and recently added is New Orleans resident Mike Dillon on vibraphone.
Ween drummer, Claude Coleman Jr., took a break from playing with DWG to begin the first tour with his own side-project, Amandla. Claude also has a new album, Laughing Hearts, which comes out this Valentine’s day, and he is joining Dean Ween Group on the rest of their tour. Amandla is a solo effort that Claude has been working on since the early 2000’s, but it has never really seen much light. New Orleans is a good place to start, though.
Amandla started at 8:00pm and breezed through some tunes off of the new album as well as oldies from previous releases like “Little Jimmy” and “Back Down.” Claude writes, performs, records, and produces his own albums, but he’s chosen some exceptionally talented friends to tour with him. For the live performances, he plays guitar and sings. His musical style is soulful and bright. He carried the audience to a fun, peaceful plane with an upbeat set that juggled styles of R&B, country, and rockabilly.
At 10:30, the house roared as they caught a glimpse of Dean Ween strolling out with his signature red Fender guitar. Surprisingly, they opened with a Ween song, “It’s Gonna Be a Long Night,” which was sung by the bassist, Dreiwitz. It was indeed a long night, though, with Dean Ween Group cranking out a number of awesome songs: a couple Ween tracks, a few from the new album, and even some unreleased material, all that they jammed extra hard for the best music city in the world. Deaner loves NOLA and makes a point to play his best whenever he’s here. One of the new songs was actually titled, “Sunset Over New Orleans,” which was a heartfelt instrumental ballad. The additional effort showed throughout the night as DWG melted the minds of his friends and fans through psychedelic rock greatness. It’s no wonder why people love watching Deaner kick out astonishing solos while making the silliest of faces. After what seemed like days of sweet grooves and licks, they closed out the show with the unreleased tune, “Finger Bangin’.”