Wednesday, October 26, 2011

les paul in mahwah

For much of the month of September, my "free time," whatever that is, was occupied with activities related to the grand opening of the incomparable Les Paul in Mahwah exhibit at the Mahwah Museum.

Les Paul was an extraordinary jazz guitarist and a genius who influenced 20th century culture more than any other single individual.  Virtually everyone's life has been touched in some way, by his inventions, if not by his music.

Because I broadcast the Guitar Technique Tutor Podcast every week, I contacted the exhibit coordinator, Dr. Charles Carerras. He was gracious enough to not only grant me an interview, but to allow me to see the exhibit before it was open to the public.  That first viewing was about a week before the official opening.  I was astounded by the scope of the exhibit.  Les Paul's workshop and much of his recording studio are literally in the exhibit.  Les Paul's 3 most infamous creations: the Octopus, the Lathe and the Log were all there!  At that time, they weren't yet in protective cases. It was like a dream.  The exhibit has 3 video screens on which to watch the old Les Paul TV show, to see Les Paul talking about how he created the Log, which was the first solid body electric guitar (made of a single piece of wood for the neck and body in order to increase sustain, and without any acoustic amplification) and to see Les Paul's creation/invention of multi-track "sound on sound" recording.  By appointment,guitarists can play one of Les Paul's guitars. through his amp, on a stage in the museum. Currently, the dates available are booked but the museum will be releasing some more winter and spring dates soon.  To say the sneak peak was exhilarating would be the understatement of the century.

Later that week, I attended a lecture by Les Paul's  friend and autobiographer, Michael Cochran.  It was illuminating.  Then, there was the tribute concert at Ramapo College.  The headliners were Lou Pallo, who was part of the Les Paul trio for years, John Colianni, a phenomenal jazz pianist, Bucky Pizzarelli, who I can't believe still has his chops, considering his advanced age, and several other great musicians.

I got to see the Gibson bus, because Gibson attended the opening weekend festivities and attended and video taped the grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony.

So, for a couple weeks, it was all Les all the time.  My podcasts from those weeks were titled, Genius and Les is More.

The museum director, has kindly extended a private viewing invitation to my students.  We have found a date when most are available, so in December we will have exclusive access to the museum, before the general public will be admitted on that day.  

Whether you're a guitarist, music lover,  jazz cat or kitten, tech buff, or a person who is fascinated by genius, visit Les Paul in Mahwah any Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday between now and the end of June, 2012.  After that, the exhibit will remain but be reduced in size, as some of the collection is on loan from the Les Paul foundation, the Grammy Hall of Fame and private collectors.

I could write about this for hours but I'll spare you. If you're interested, check out my podcasts mentioned above.

Here is the ribbon cutting ceremony (this video had audio when I posted it)

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