Les Paul Big Sound Experience Coming to Waukesha
Les Paul, the Wizard of Waukesha and father of modern music and solid body electric guitar, would have been 100 years old this past June 9th.
The “Big Sound Experience” will be featured at Les Paul Middle School from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. this Thursday and Friday as part of the 2015 100th Birthday celebration tour. Admission to the exhibit is free. (See exhibit pictures from Thursday – below)
To share his creativity, innovative spirit, and love of sound, the Les Paul Foundation has created an intriguing mobile exhibit – a 76.5 ft-long, by 28 ft-wide trailer that expands to a 1,000-square-foot.
Les Paul’s Big Sound Experience was unveiled June 9 for the Les Paul 100th birthday celebration in New York City, and has made stops in Boston; Nashville; Washington D.C.; Dearborn, Mich.; Indianapolis; Cleveland; Mahwah, N.J., and more. It visited Milwaukee’s Summerfest in July, and was also at the Good Neighbor Festival in Middleton.
This week’s stop in Waukesha will be the last planned in Wisconsin, but the Big Sound Experience will roll on around the country into next May, including visits to Nashville, Memphis, San Francisco and Texas.
I took the opportunity to stop by the #BigSoundExperience Thursday afternoon and snapped a few pictures. Inside this exhibit is a truly amazing entourage of gadgetry and historic WOW!
Tuesday, June 9th, 2015 marks the 100th birthday of Les Paul and there are many opportunities for fans to celebrate this centennial memorial event in honor of the legendary Les Paul.
From the 6/6/2015 Waukesha Freeman, p. A8:
Kelli & The Soul Mates to perform for Les Paul’s 100th birthday
The city is commemorating the 100th birthday of Les Paul, musical genius and native son, with events kicking off on Tuesday. There will be personal tributes, food and live music from 6:30 – 9pm at the Waukesha County Museum.
One of the musical acts is Kelli & The Soulmates. The seven-piece band plays old school Stax/Volt sound and style of the 1960s. Lead vocalist Kelli Gonzalez said of the band, “Our music is high energy, people get up and dance.”
The vocalists have a soulful range complimented by a hip-swaying rhythm section and horns. Previously known as Torn Soul, the group has played all over the Milwaukee and Waukesha area.
Gonzalez said, “We have played big festivals. We are fortunate to play high profile events.” They have performed at such festivals as Bastille Days, the State Fair and Jazz in the Park.
Pete Saia, guitarist and vocalist, joined the band late last year. He said, “The band does deep cuts and as a musician it is very appealing.”
The music maker
Les Paul is a musical icon to musicians. Gonzalez said, “How didn’t he influence anything? He invented the electric guitar!” Gonzalez lives in the Waukesha area and has observed the beautiful GuitarTown artwork around downtown.
Saia, a Carroll University alum, is equally excited about playing this occasion. He said, “This birthday party is going to be huge!”
Saia has a connection to Les Paul. He previously lived in Waukesha but moved in 2004. As a resident he lived in the Mountain Village Apartments. Les Paul’s mother’s home was torn down in the late eighties to build the apartments.
The Wizard of Waukesha paved the way for those in the rock and soul genre. Saia said, “For me personally, lots of guitar players are influenced by him or by the people he influenced. His contribution for multi-track recording directly or indirectly impacted everyone.”
Keep it fresh like Les
Gonzalez, a 25-year music veteran, is eager to play for new faces. She said, “I learn something new every day.” She enjoys a variety of musical styles. Her feeling is to keep it fresh and new so she doesn’t get bored or burnt out.
Gonzalez believes music is what makes her who she is. However, she uses her role as a vocalist to provide a history lesson to fresh-faced listeners. She said, “Younger people are not exposed to some of the older music, it is our job to get it out there.”
Saia hopes to have a great turnout to liven up the event. The band is humbled to be a part of the 100th birthday milestone. He said of Les Paul, “Without his creativity and genius we wouldn’t be where we are today.”