Monday, 28 July 2014 12:11

Les Claypool's Version of Kumbaya

Written by  Dwayne Hoover
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Les Claypool's Duo De Twang wsg Reformed Whores
The Intersection, Grand Rapids
Aug. 24, 7 p.m.
$26 advance, $28 day of show, (616) 451-8232

Les Claypool is certainly best known for his role as lead vocalist and bassist for Primus. But Claypool is just as well known for his number of side projects and artistic endeavors, including the formation of supergroup Oysterhead, theme songs for "South Park" and Robot Chicken, a book, a movie and working alongside musicians from Tom Waits to Metallica.

To say the guy's prolific might be a bit of an understatement.

Claypool's newest project, Duo De Twang, started off as a one-time gig for a bluegrass festival, but after a camping trip with his son, the idea just kind of stuck.

"Well, we were just sitting around the campfire and [my son] had his banjo and I had my resonator bass and the dog was there," Claypool said. "It just clicked. Why not have a campfire on stage?"

So that's exactly what he did. Claypool enlisted the help of long-time friend and M.I.R.V. guitarist Brian Kehoe to take the stage with a literal campfire to sit around, tell stories and hammer out some old-school country renditions of everything from Primus songs like "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" and "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver" to "Man in the Box" by Alice in Chains and even "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees.

These backwoods, foot-stomping tracks and more make up the duo's first album, Four Foot Shack, which was released in February. The record is about as raw as it gets, due to the fact that you can occasionally hear things like a refrigerator turn on or a dog bark in the background.

Claypool said the whole idea behind Duo De Twang is simplicity, like friends sitting around a campfire and sharing each other's company, the same way it's been done for centuries.

"It's very prevalent in gypsy cultures, gathering around the van and the campfire and exchanging music and ideas," Claypool said. "It's a lost tradition that's been replaced by sitting around the electric campfire and watching 'Survivor' or something."

Exploring the simpler life, drinking, storytelling, laughing and of course, playing music, is what Claypool says it's really all about.

"I keep referring to getting back to basics," he said. "There's not a lot of premeditation to this. It's not like I was like, 'Holy s**t, country music is popular right now. I have to do a twang record.'"

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