Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade mark their first tour in 20 years with a sold-out gig at The Wiltern & Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals’

Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade - The WilternBy Josh Herwitt //

Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade with Moon Duo //
The Wiltern – Los Angeles
July 14th, 2023 //

There aren’t many musicians who have made a living at the intersection of the alt-metal and jam scenes quite like Les Claypool has.

Best known for being the founder, lead singer, bassist and primary songwriter of Primus since the three-piece formed nearly 40 years ago, the Northern California native has also made a habit of collaborating with artists and bands across a variety of genres during that stretch.

Just in the past year, he has toured with percussionist Mike Dillon, saxophonist Skerik and drummer Stanton Moore of Galactic for his side project Les Claypool’s Bastard Jazz before Primus performed with drummer Danny Carey and bassist Justin Chancellor of Tool during a benefit show back in April (you can watch them cover Tool’s 1997 single “Ænema” alongside Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen here).

Claypool’s résumé, moreover, has seen him team up with All-Star talent across the musical spectrum, whether it has been Green Jellö, Tom Waits, Trey Anastasio of Phish, Metallica, Buckethead, Stewart Copeland of The Police, Adrian Belew, Gov’t Mule, Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains, Bill Laswell, Zach Hill, Fishbone, Alex Lifeson of Rush, Charlie Hunter, Death Grips, Hank Williams III, Beats Antique or Josh Homme. Forgive us if we missed a few names there, but you get the idea that when it comes to friends in the music business, Claypool has no shortage of them.

Most recently though, he has spent the last several years working with Sean Ono Lenno — the son of John and Yoko — beginning in 2015 when the duo conceived The Claypool Lennon Delirium and now with Claypool reuniting his Fearless Flying Frog Brigade for their first concerts in 20 years.

Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade - The Wiltern

Featuring a star-studded cast led by Claypool and supported by Lennon, Dillon, keyboardist Harry Waters — the son of Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters — and drummer Paolo Baldi formerly of CAKE, the quintet was also supposed to boast Skerik (born Eric Walton) on saxophone before he suffered a shoulder injury that has sidelined him for three months.

But that didn’t stop the Brigade from drawing a capacity crowd in LA when they arrived at The Wiltern last Friday on their “Summer of Green Tour” — the official title of the 42-date run that was even more fitting given the strong aroma of marijuana wafting through the historic theater as soon as I walked in.

Of course they performed Pink Floyd’s Animals as was expected, yet they still had a couple tricks up their sleeves that included The Claypool Lennon Delirium’s “Blood and Rockets: Movement I, Saga of Jack Parsons / Movement II, Too the Moon” and a cover of King Crimson’s single “Thela Hun Ginjeet” from 1981’s Discipline with Primus guitarist Larry LaLonde stepping onstage before an encore break.

And despite entering his seventh decade soon, Claypool hasn’t lost the ability to captivate an audience with his bass-playing techniques — from tapping and slapping to flamenco-like strumming and whammy bar bends — unique vocals, silly lyrics and costume changes, one of which was a pig mask as he took to his upright bass and later a disco helmet while manning a Whamola. Why not a frog mask, you ask? Considering the number of fans there who had their Claypool-approved frog caps on, well … you’ll just have to inquire with “Colonel Claypool” about that.

Claypool, after all, has always done things his own way, and for those at The Wiltern, it didn’t matter that the Brigade’s only studio album Purple Onion came out in 2002. With a ribbiting two-hour and 15-minute performance on the penultimate night of the group’s summer tour, one of our greatest bass players ever made it clear that he has no issue hopping (ribbit ribbit) back into any one of his many solo projects and sticking the landing with a full house on hand.

Up on the Roof
Rumble of the Diesel (Les Claypool song)
Amanitas (Les Claypool song)
Blood and Rockets: Movement I, Saga of Jack Parsons / Movement II, Too the Moon (The Claypool Lennon Delirium cover)
Pigs on the Wing, Part 1 (Pink Floyd cover)
Dogs (Pink Floyd cover)
Pigs (Three Different Ones) (Pink Floyd cover)
Sheep (Pink Floyd cover)
Pigs on the Wing, Part 2 (Pink Floyd cover)
Precipitation (Les Claypool and the Holy Mackerel cover)
One Better (Les Claypool song)
David Makalaster
David Makalaster II
Thela Hun Ginjeet (King Crimson cover) (with Larry LaLonde)

Cosmic Highway

NOLA supergroup Dragon Smoke keep surprising

DragondSmokeBy Josh Herwitt //

Dragon Smoke featuring Ivan Neville, Stanton Moore, Eric Lindell & Robert Mercurio //
The Mint – Los Angeles
December 4th, 2013 //

There’s an old adage that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Well, these days, where there’s Dragon Smoke, there’s also fire — but in a good way.

That’s just a testament to the kind of energy the New Orleans supergroup brings every night it hits the stage. Of course, whenever you put four All-Star musicians in the same room, good things can often happen.

Yet, it still takes chemistry to make a band click on all cylinders, and Dragon Smoke certainly has that with Ivan Neville, Eric Lindell, Stanton Moore and Robert Mercurio on board.


For one, you won’t find a much better rhythm section in the music business than Moore and Mercurio, who are best known for their work with New Orleans funk outfit Galactic. Moore, after all, has become one of the most sought-after drummers over the last decade. With a burgeoning solo career that has led to playing in other supergroups like Garage A Trois and Street Sweeper Social Club, it’s hard to fathom how he has found the time for another side project. Mercurio and his bass, meanwhile, know how to stay plenty busy as well.

So, when you add Neville’s impeccable dexterity on the keys and Lindell’s tasty guitar licks to the mix, you’ve got quite the four-piece on your hands. And that’s without mentioning that Neville and Lindell can both hit the high notes when it’s time to take the mic.

After catching last year’s show at The Mint, Showbams returned to the diminutive jazz club in LA on Wednesday to see what exactly the quartet had in store this time around.


Playing two sets that predictably extended past the three-hour mark, Dragon Smoke cooked up a mean batch of gumbo and followed that up with a healthy helping of jambalaya. There were covers of Bill Withers (“Grandma’s Hands”), BLACKstreet (“No Diggity”) and even some old school War (“Slippin’ into Darkness”).

But one of the biggest surprises of the night — and a pleasant one at that — was the band’s rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”, serving as another piece of evidence that at any point in time, Dragon Smoke is more than capable of taking someone else’s song and making it entirely its own.

If the packed crowd was any indication of what Dragon Smoke has become in the last 10 years, you can bet that these four horsemen will be touring again sometime next year.