The last time Les Claypool was here, the maniacal Primus bass player spent several days on the water between Aventura and Pompano Beach shooting scenes for a TV fishing-show project with friend Mickey Melchiondo (more famously known as indie rocker Dean Ween). While the fishing was uneven, the show’s producers agreed that they had captured something crucial to the success of the show: Les and Mickey’s unguarded between-fish dialogue, often accompanied by banjo (Claypool) and acoustic guitar (Melchiondo).
“It was just them on the front of the boat hanging out, sun going down, playing music and talking. Those were great scenes,” a cameraman said during a post-shoot gathering at the Treasure Trove on Fort Lauderdale beach.
It is a similarly laid-back vibe that Claypool is shooting for when he brings his Duo de Twang to Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale for a post-Jam Cruise show on Jan. 9 — albeit with enough noise to scare the fish.
“It’s like we’re all sitting around a campfire, drinking and playing music and bullsh---ing,” Claypool says during a recent phone conversation. “It’s a hang. Hang with the twang. It will definitely be an experience.”
Claypool should be plenty warmed up by the time he hits Revolution Live: Duo de Twang is among the headliners for Jam Cruise 12, a five-day sailing that departs from the Port of Miami on Saturday. Other acts include Thievery Corporation, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Bootsy Collins, the Wailers, Galactic, Warren Haynes, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, the Revivalists and many more. Jam Cruise is sold out, but they are taking pre-booking reservations for Jam Cruise 13 now at JamCruise.com.
Duo de Twang (Claypool joined by longtime friend Bryan Kehoe on guitar) was an idea that began in 2012 when Claypool and his son unplugged around a fire during a California camping trip, a session he calls “one of the greatest times of my life,” and gained traction after a one-off set at San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival with the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson.
But the genesis of the DDT sound — a Primus-meets-”Deliverance” deconstruction of honky-tonk and hillbilly music — can be traced back even further, Claypool says.
Growing up in a working-class suburb of San Francisco, Claypool says vintage country music was all he heard while helping his dad work on cars in the garage.
“He always had the radio on AM, an Okie station. Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton. That’s what I grew up with. This is me being nostalgic,” Claypool says with a laugh.
A Duo de Twang album, “Four Foot Shack,” is set for a February release and is a typically Claypoolian bag of surprises: Horton’s “Battle of New Orleans,” Primus favorite “Wynona's Big Brown Beaver," Alice in Chains’ “Man in the Box” and the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.” Claypool says the last song typifies his intentionally scattershot approach to the project.
“We sit around and play bits and pieces of a lot of stuff. We might even learn the entire song,” he says, laughing. “Sometimes, we laugh. Sometimes, we don’t. Sometimes, we hit on something we didn’t expect, like the Alice in Chains song, and ‘Stayin’ Alive.' You can twangifiy anything.”
Claypool says he and Melchiondo are still looking for the right home for their TV fishing show, shopping a trailer to various cable-network decision makers, but the chemistry they developed lives on.
“We talk, not just about the show. We talk about fishing, talk about the show, talk about music. He’s a friend,” Claypool says, admitting, “I’m in Twang mode now.”
Also on the front burner is the long-awaited reunion of the trio that created Primus’ 1989 debut, “Suck on This.” Drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander is again firmly back in the fold and recording with Claypool and guitarist Larry LaLonde. There’s no news, however, on when the session might yield an album (which would be the trio’s first studio album since 1995’s “Tales From the Punchbowl”).
“I can say Tim ‘Herb’ Alexander has wandered back. He is in a good space right now,” Claypool says. “He’s excited. I’m excited. You should be excited.”
IF YOU GO
Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang performs 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets: $25. Info: 954-449-1025 or JoinTheRevolution.net
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