I guess I first need to admit I didn’t know Les Paul existed until I saw that Derek Trucks was playing at his 90th birthday celebration a couple of years ago. I wasn’t willing to pay that kind of money for music at the time or see anything in the big halls. I was more intrigued after the show, when I read a couple of reviews from people who attended. Still, not enough to explore further.
He came up on my radar again last year when I read Randy Poe’s biography Skydog, about Duane Allman (which will get it’s own post probably later this week). That’s when I first found out Les Paul invented an electric guitar. Still, didn’t make me want to look him up at all. I just never thought of it.
Then, a few weeks ago, a friend asked me if Les Paul still plays. I wasn’t sure, I was just remembering the 90th birthday. I told her I’d let her know if I ever saw something. Soon enough, I see it on Iridium’s schedule. Every Mon night! I’m sure I knew something about it, but since I wasn’t interested, I never retained it. I was happy to report back that he plays every Mon and realized I may as well go with. I mean, I like Iridium OK, and I was hoping a $45 cover meant it was still worth seeing.
I also asked Greg if he ever saw him, and he told me while he hasn’t, it’s something we all should do. After going last night, I would have to agree whole-heartedly. It turns out he packs them in every Monday night for 2 sets. We almost couldn’t get in because I tried to make a reservation on Fri and was told the 8pm was sold out for the next 2 weeks. Luckily, Susan was resourceful enough to buy 3 tix on-line early on Mon, so we were in! Iridium was more packed than any time I’ve gone there, which isn’t that much. More due to the location and the expense – they usually have good music. In the past year I saw David S. Ware (fantastically amazing) and the Spirit of Don Cherry group with Steven Bernstein and Peter Apfelbaum and a couple of people who used to play with Don. For both of those shows, there was no problem getting in and they had the tables up front set up differently, not as tight as last night. Last night must have been their maximum capacity seating arrangement.
The way I can tell whether the music is good is how it makes me feel. If I want to move a bit, even in my chair, it’s good. I find that those who know whether music is technically good agree with my feeling, usually, so I guess what I move to is often technically good as well. I was moving the whole time. I loved his playing. It was old standards kind of stuff, but it felt good. There was also a great energy in the room given he is a living legend. I could have done without all the talking, but what can you do. I know a lot of people like that kind of thing. I bet they spent about ½ hour talking and telling jokes. I think that is part of what the show is about and that’s what Les wants to do. They did go late, ended at about 9:15/9:20, so there was enough music. Les said he retired in 1965, but then came out to play in the clubs for therapy. I can relate to that.
We were told he’s going to the White House on Thursday to receive a Lifetime Acheivement award.
It was interesting there was no drummer in the band. There was a guest tap dancer for a couple of songs, though.
Overall it was a great time and I recommend if you haven’t seen him, and can part with the dough to do it.
I was doing a little research earlier today and here’s what I found:
Ah, I’m starting to get the answer to my curiousity about how some guitars have holes and some don’t. This is also a very good article:
“Simultaneously, he also did much developmental work on the concept of the electric guitar. His electrical engineering skills led him to finally develop the electric solidbody guitar, designed initially to reduce feedback and increase the sustain of notes and chords.”
I also got curious about Derek’s red guitar and found out it’s actually the later version that Les didn’t really like so much:
Gibson SG 2000 '61 Reissue