Les Claypool brings his Duo De Twang to WinterWonderGrass Saturday
If you go ...
Who: Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang.
Where: WinterWonderGrass Festival, Nottingham Park, Avon.
When: 6:45 to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Cost: A three-day pass is $159 at the gate. Single day tickets are $79 for Saturday, $69 for Sunday.
More information: Visit http://www.winterwondergrass.com.
AVON — Les Claypool is all about “twanging” it up these days. While the bass player and singer is still performing double duty with Primus, Claypool’s latest project is called Duo de Twang. Along with his friend Bryan Kehoe, Claypool puts on a laid-back, decidedly deconstructed performance: There’s one vocal, one bass, one guitar and a basic beat pulled off by stomping on a “mini-tambourine doohickey,” according to the group’s press release.
The duo performed at Belly Up in Aspen on Thursday night. You can hear Duo De Twang perform at the WinterWonderGrass Festival tonight.
From the sounds of their debut recording and shows, Claypool and Kehoe are having a grand old time performing.
“I think it’s one of those things that I’m going to do quite a bit when I have the time to do it. I call it my ‘vacation band’ because I don’t have to worry about production. It’s just me and Ol’ Kehoezer and a couple of other guys, cruising around.”
Avon town councilman and fellow musician Jake Wolf will certainly be in the audience for the Duo de Twang show, he said.
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“I’m looking forward to that intensely because he’s so outside of (Claypool’s) element. It’s one of my top three picks and for sure not something I’m missing,” Wolf said.
According to Wolf, Claypool will be in Avon through the weekend and there’s a rumor that some lucky fan might have a chance to see Claypool play up close and very personal.
“Rumor has it that Claypool might be doing a lap or two or three around The Westin gondola,” Wolf said. “Some very lucky fan will be treated to a very cool experience when they hop in and Les Claypool is playing there solo and in person.”
‘HOBNOB WITH THE CROWD’
The band’s debut recording, “Four Foot Shack,” was released just over a year ago, on Feb. 4, 2014. The tongue-in-cheek album cover is a drawing of a little shack with four (hairy) human legs and feet coming out of the bottom, standing upon a cloud. It has one original song and a slew of covers, including a handful of Primus songs and classics like “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees and “Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains. The twangified version of Primus song “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver,” originally on the album “Tales from the Punchbowl,” is especially fun.
The duo came about after Claypool was asked to put together a project for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco, he said.
Part of the fun is how low-key the whole thing is.
“I got a hold of my old buddy Kehoe, who I’ve known since high school, and it kind of just turned into he and I sitting there in front of the campfire, playing hillbilly versions of my songs and some other people’s songs. And drinking. It’s an intimate thing — you sit there and hobnob with the crowd, and play a couple of tunes … and do some more hobnobbing.”
In this project, Claypool gets the chance to explore the songs he listens to: Johnny Horton, Vernon Dalhart, Jerry Reed, Bob Wills, Eddy Cochran and others.
“It’s another door for me to open,” he said. “I’m doing this sort of Luther Perkins, Johnny Cash guitar-ish type part on my bass, by doing the old ding-dinka-ding, dinka-ding-dinka-ding on a lot of the stuff. It took me a little bit to get that. Now that I’ve gotten it, I can pull songs out of the air and it’s surprising how many songs easily succumb to the twang and can be complemented by the twang.”
So just how do you “twangify” something, as Claypool puts it?
“A lot of it is just stumbling across it,” Claypool said about how a tune is selected. “You’re twanging away, and then all of a sudden, something just comes out. And then you laugh about it … or you don’t. And then you move on. There are tons of songs that we’ve stumbled across, and these ones just happened to be the ones that stuck.”
With “Four Foot Shack,” Claypool and Kehoe made it a point to keep things as live-sounding as possible.
“It was very live,” Claypool said. “In fact, it was a little difficult, with all the bleed of the stomping and the bass and the vocals. Every now and again you can hear the studio refrigerator come on or the dog barking at something outside in the background. Once it was there, you had to kind of leave it. But it was very stripped down. My studio is all this old, vintage gear.”
As for how long Duo de Twang will be around, that’s anyone’s guess.
“When all is said and done, it’s just a hell of a fun project for me right now. I’ll do it till it’s not fun anymore,” Claypool said.