Duo de Twang and Reformed Whores
3rd and Lindsley, Nashville, TN
Words by: Jacob Ryan (@GonzoWithGusto)
Photos by: Michael Brooks
Even in Music City, it isn’t everyday that you get to see a living legend, but we were lucky enough to catch one this past Friday at 3rd and Lindsley, when Les Claypool (the mastermind behind Primus) came calling with his funky bluegrass side project Duo de Twang. This SOLD OUT show was truly unique, as is almost everything Les get’s his bass slapping hands on, and with comedic country western singers Reformed Whores opening it was even more distinctive. Read on for further details on the show you’re probably pissed you missed, and check out our exclusive shots from contributing photographer Michael Brooks.
First and foremost friends, do not fall for the parking scams centered around 3rd and Lindsley. All street parking in the area is free and if you go to their web site, they’ll even break it down for you further, showing you a map of a free lot not even a block from the venue. Those bummy looking dudes in the neon construction vests are not employed by anyone, they’re scam artists, don’t give them anything, especially the $10 they will request.
Once you’re situated with your FREE PARKING, you’ll have the privilege of walking into one of our favorite dives/venues in all of Nashville. The modest building has an area set aside for tables, so people can sit and enjoy a meal while watching a show, and also a pit, which is standing room only for fans who like to be right on top of the action. The humble balacony adds yet another interesting element to an amazing concert viewing experience.
The Reformed Whores were hilarious right from the start, when one was giving the other grief about having “tic tacs for titties.” The entier performance was more witty, crass, fart joke stand-up comedy (they have a show at Zanies in the near future) than actual country western singing and playing, but there was definitely a mix of both. They had a song about the special feeling they got from humping their Care Bear plush toy as a child, another about how much we all wanted their hoo hahs and my personal favorite, simply entitled “Girls Poop Too”. Throughout the show they played a guitar, ukulele, accordion, made fart noise in the mic and at one point even had a baby doll full of beans being shaken like a maraca. They were certainly not your average warm-up band.
Before too long it was time for the headliners. People began to swarm towards the pit at the front of the stage, and the entire place had turned into a giant sweatbox from so many bodies rubbing against one another. Duo de Twang came out with a very modest set up: two stools for the performers, some basic, but high end amps, a couple mics, a resonator style guitar, an acoustic bass guitar and a hokey fake camp fire, inspired by the fact the side project was formed by Les and guitarist Brian Kehoe (of M.I.R.V) on camping trips the two have made over the years. The pair have been friends since childhood, and what started out as something they did for fun on vacation, has turned into an album (Four Foot Shack) and now a tour.
Claypool immediately started with his trademark banter, made famous from his performances with progressive, alternative funk-metal band Primus. He’d start and stop the first song, taking time to chop it up with the crowd, talk a little good-natured shit about Nashville, and it’s guitar pickers. Eventually he got into the song he had first started, a Primus classic, “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver”, all be it a stripped down bluegrass interpretation. His massive left hand danced up and down the neck of his interment, as he plucked and slapped out the beat on the strings with his equally large right hand. He stomped out the beat on a little high-hat kick drum thingie, that was hidden behind the monitor.
From the very start it was obvious that we were all in for a treat. With his various full bands, Claypool sells out much, much larger venues, and we were all extremely lucky to be this close to arguably the greatest bass player alive, in such an intimate setting. The pattern of playing a song, and then doing a little story-tellers style banter in-between would be a theme through out. Another highlight was a Canadian country standard, he played in his trademark Les Claypool way, by Stompin’ Tom Conners (the Johnny Cash of Canada) called “The Bridge Came Tumbling Down”, that got everyone clapping along.
Next was an acoustic rendition of the Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive”, which we all sang along to as Claypool’s fingers danced up and down the neck of of his bass like a giant, hairless spider. After the disco era cover, Claypool started getting into it with a drunk lady, who was yammering away in the front row so loud we could barely hear him tell his tales in-between songs. Les is a true professional, and to his credit she was terribly obnoxious and distracting, so I don’t blame him for what came next.
“You can go yammer by the bathroom,” he said into the mic, staring daggers into the drunk woman. “Oh, do you want to sing the next one? Because these people paid good money to her you sing and talk all night tonight, didn’t they?” The crowd cheered his jeers of the drunk. She simmered down and the show continued.
On the next number he asked for “the best guitarist in the audience to come up and join the duo for a song”, and a 20 something fellah named Logan Oakley hopped up and held his own with the pros. We were all impressed with his turns at solos, and the three of them jammed out a version of the grade school favorite “The Battle of New Orleans”.
“In 1814,we took a little trip …” everyone sang along.
By the end it was obvious Les was fairly impressed; complementing Logan’s “butter milk” smooth playing. It must have been the thrill of a lifetime for the young picker. For the encore, Les came out for one number all by himself and then he asked the crowd to vote on the last song. Either Jerry or Johnny. Of course, the man in black will always trump the Grateful Dead in Nashville, TN and Claypool closed out the night with “Cocaine Blues”, which brought the house down.
Overall, even with a drunk heckler, it was an epic night of music we will not soon forget. His weirdness is legendary and best seen/appreciated live, so do yourself a favor and download the new album here, and don’t EVER miss the chance to see Claypool, Primus or any of his side projects next time they come to Music City. Your inner freak will thank you.