Thursday, June 9th, 2016 marks the 100th birthday of Les Paul and there are many opportunities for fans to celebrate this memorial event in honor of the legendary musical innovator.
As Joe would say, “Rock the Heavens kid…”
(Photo courtesy of Joe Rocha)
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.
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.”
I decided to share this heartfelt post from Roy Elkins in remembrance of Les Paul:
Happy 99th Birthday Les Paul!
Today, June 9th, would have been Les Paul‘s 99th birthday. Les changed the world with his inventions, his guitar playing and more importantly, his insatiable curiosity. I had the good fortune to meet Les and work with him while I was at Ensoniq in the 80s and 90s. He used our products and was always interested in what was coming next. When I moved on to Sonic Foundry, we had discussions regarding sampling and looping and the effects it would have on the music creation process. After Broadjam was launched, the topic moved to mp3s and the compression algorithms to create them. He was always inquisitive and full of ideas.
Les at home with many of his inventions & instruments
My favorite Les Paul story. He was traveling back from the west coast with Mary Ford when his car skidded off the road and nearly killed both of them. His right arm was shattered and he instructed the doctors to position it in a way so he could pick a guitar. To the day he died, his right arm was always bent like he was holding a guitar.
He played the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City right up until his death. It was a ritual to go see Les when traveling to NYC. He was always gracious and made you feel li
ke you were the most important person in his life.
While he is widely known for his innovations, those who knew him remember his friendly, humorous, engaging and inquisitive personality. Below is a link to a blog for your perusal written shortly after his death.
Also, please support the Les Paul foundation. He was philanthropic in life and now in death. I am happy to be affiliated with the great people who run his organization.
Les Paul Foundation
Happy 98th Birthday Les Paul
Born on June 09, 2013, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, today marks the 98th birthday of Les Paul (Lester William Polsfuss). On August 13, 2009, Les Paul passed away from complications associated with pneumonia at a hospital in White Plains, New York. Les died with his family and friends by his side.
Who was Les Paul?
Les Paul was a musician, songwriter and inventor. He was also one of the pioneers of the solid-body electric guitar – making the sound of rock & roll as we know it possible.
Waukesha’s Dedication to Les Paul
- In an effort to show thanks and preserve his vibrant legacy, the city of Waukesha – the birth and resting place of Les Paul – has become a Gibson “GuitarTown”. Dubbed the “Walking Tour”, Waukesha GuitarTown features Giant 10-foot tall and playable Gibson Les Paul guitars, as well as murals located throughout downtown Waukesha. (FREE)
- In addition to GuitarTown, the permanent “Les Paul Experience” exhibit opens today at the Waukesha County Museum. See rare guitars and artifacts that belonged to Les Paul and learn about the amazing story of Les Paul. (Tickets Required)
- In 2009 Les Paul was laid to rest next to his mother at the Prairie Home Cemetery where a monument was constructed.The 500 square feet of granite includes the image of a 1952 Gibson Les Paul guitar, surrounded by a biography of the legendary guitar player and inventor, and a listing of his major awards.
Visit, Explore, and Pay your Respects
With June 9th being Les Paul’s birthday, why not come and see all the historical attractions dedicated to our hometown guitar legend. Visit downtown Waukesha and take a glimpse at the legacy of Les Paul. While you’re at it, stop by the monument and pay your respects to the man who lives on in the great city of Waukesha!