Leslie Edward “Les” Claypool of alternative rock band Primus fame will stop in Grass Valley for a dance party presented by The Center for the Arts Wednesday as part of his Pacific Northwest tour. Duo de Twang is bassist Les Claypool with guitarist Bryan Kehoe.
Claypool’s mastery of the electric bass has brought him into the spotlight with his funky, creative playing style. He mixes finger tapping, flamenco-style strumming and a Larry Graham-like slap technique to produce his own unique style. He has earned respect as one of rock’s premier bass talents, recording with Tom Waits on projects since 1991. In recent years, Claypool has become an influence for younger bassists.
“I’ve always said the bass just happens to be the crayon I picked out of the box,” Claypool told NPR in 2011.
“I’d still be drawing the same pictures … should I have picked trumpet or accordion or guitar, whatever it may be. The sounds in my head are still the same,” he said. At the time, NPR called Claypool a “need-to-know bassist.”
In 2000, Claypool collaborated with Trey Anastasio (of Phish) and Stewart Copeland (of The Police) as the short lived but wildly popular Oysterhead.
The singer, lyricist, bassist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer may be best known as the founder of Primus. The band gained significant mainstream airplay in the 1990s, headlining Lollapalooza in 1993, an appearance at Woodstock in 1994 and appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Conan O’Brien in 1995.
The music of Primus has appeared in everything from Bill and Ted films to Tony Hawk skater videogames and “Guitar Hero 2.” Claypool will tour with Primus later this fall during a Harvest Festival in Australia.
Claypool has self produced and engineered numerous solo releases from his own studio, Rancho Relaxo. In 2006 came the release of the full-length feature film “Electric Apricot,” written and directed by Claypool, and the debut novel “South of the Pumphouse.”
In 2007, Claypool began a wine-making project for his personal use that has since turned into a boutique wine business. Claypool Cellars makes wines from grapes grown in the Russian River Valley. The wines have names based on his music, like “Purple Pachyderm” and “Pink Platypus.”