Flashback: Phish’s Trey Anastasio Pauses Show To Ask Ween To Reunite

By Andy Kahn Aug 7, 2016 1:08 pm PDT

Last summer Phish held a concert at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio during which they covered “Roses Are Free” by Ween within the first set. After the performance of the Chocolate And Cheese track that took place one year ago today on August 7, 2015, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio paused the show to address the at-the-time broken up band.

“I’d like to take a quick second to send a special message out to my friends Aaron and Mickey who are going to hear somehow through this,” Anastasio said following “Roses.” “Guys, it’s time to get back together and start playing again, that’s from me here at Blossom. Aaron and Mickey I hope you hear that. Ween – one of my all-time favorite bands – time to get back together and start playing. You heard it here first.”

The “Aaron” and “Mickey” referenced by Trey are the co-founding members of Ween, Aaron “Gene Ween” Freeman and Mickey “Dean Ween” Melchiondo who ended up reuniting and started playing together again earlier this year. In October of last year, Deaner discussed the origins of “Roses Are Free” and gave his stance on Phish adding the song their live repertoire starting on December 11, 1997 in Rochester, New York, writing:

Aaron wrote this song and recorded it in his apartment in Stockton, NJ during the very fertile writing period preceding Chocolate and Cheese. There was no bass on it. I immediately fell in love with the song and thought it was the closest thing we’d ever recorded to truly emulate Prince, who is our musical hero.

The demo was on four tracks with two vocals, drum machine and keyboard. I heard it as being symphonic. I think it’s ironic that as many times as we’ve worn our Prince inspiration on our sleeves that no one ever picked up the obvious, massive Prince influence of the song. When we re-recorded it for Chocolate and Cheese we filled up 24 tracks with parts.

We never played it live, it had never even occurred to us until Phish started playing it out. Now it’s one of my favorite songs to perform live, as the whole band is playing the entire time. Usually it’s our finale of finales, the last song of the last encore.

Phish, by covering it, made it one of our popular and most crowd pleasing tunes. For that we owe Trey forever because it opened up so many people’s ears to the music of Ween and introduced us to a whole new audience within the jam band scene, which never would have happened otherwise.

For this week’s Sunday Cinema, the video below captures “Timber (Jerry)” followed by the “Roses Are Free” from one year ago tonight. “Roses” starts at 7:15 and jump ahead to the 12:49 mark to hear Trey’s message to Aaron and Mickey.

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