Discussion in 'The Howard Stern Show' started by Howards Slow Toilet, Jun 19, 2015.
Q&A: Gene Ween On His Billy Joel Tribute Band And Lifelong Love Of The Piano Man
Credit: Scott Harris
By Scott Lapatine @scottgum / June 17, 2015 - 2:10 pm
Late last month Billy Joel played New York City’s Madison Square Garden for the 63rd time. Meanwhile, across the river, Aaron Freeman played many of the same tunes to a smaller crowd at Brooklyn’s most upscale bowling alley. It was the Ween co-founder’s fourth time belting out a set of these cover songs — “Pressure,” “My Life,” “Captain Jack,” “Sometimes A Fantasy,” and over a dozen more of the Piano Man’s radio mainstays — and he was clearly having a blast. Freeman also wore a Billy Joel costume of sorts: sport coat and jeans, untucked dress shirt and loosened tie, a white goatee just like the one Joel adopted after he went bald.
Ween were a funny band, but this event wasn’t played for laughs. Freeman has loved the music of Billy Joel ever since discovering Glass Houses as a pre-teen back in New Hope, PA. Onstage for the first of two nights at Brooklyn Bowl he imbued even a treacly ballad like “Just The Way You Are” with genuine passion. And while it’s not Freeman’s first left-field covers project since quitting psych-pop heroes Ween to focus on sobriety three years ago — his 2012 debut solo album, Marvelous Clouds, contained all Rod McKuen covers, and last year he covered Bob Dylan’s worst song with Slash — it is perhaps the most unexpected. As I explained to Freeman in our conversation, I’m a Billy Joel fan, but we rarely write about him on Stereogum. While the MSG residency keeps selling out and Joel continues to rack up accolades (the Library Of Congress Gershwin Prize last year, a Kennedy Center Honor in 2013), Joel has written only two pop songs in the last 22 years.
When Freeman came up with the idea for these shows he turned to School Of Rock founder Paul Green to put together an eight-piece band. Freeman’s been teaching music to kids at Green’s Rock Academy in Woodstock, and he credits his work there with breaking the writer’s block that preceded last year’s stripped-down FREEMAN album. We chatted about that and geeked out over The Nylon Curtain before I hopped a flight to Bonnaroo, where Joel headlined Sunday night. Watch Freeman cover “Big Shot” and “The Ballad Of Billy The Kid,” and check out or Q&A, below.
really good q&a at the link above...kinda long to post here
I loves me some Ween. Sad they ended the way they did.
I thought the 'Freeman' album was quite excellent. the opening track 'Covert Discretion' is really a no punches pulled explanation of his drug abuse, that Vancouver meltdown & the dissolution of Ween.
Gener recently played with Umphrey's McGee as well...under the name 'Godboner'...good stuff.