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Les Paul’s Big Sound Experience at the Mahwah Museum,

Really, before you go to sleep each night, after you say your whatevers to whomever—or, whatever—you might take a moment and send up a word of gratitude to Les Paul. Lester William Polsfuss, born in Waukesha, Wisconsin on June 9th, 1915 would have been 100 years old this week. Though not born in NJ, he made Mahwah his long time home for the majority of his years. Aside from being a wonderfully original and entertaining guitarist, he also found a few spare moments to innovate groundbreaking techniques in multi-track recording, tape delay, guitar building, and home-studio recording.

He was an affable and nice guy, too! Mr. Paul was a patient of an orthopedic doctor that an old friend of mine used to work for; my friend knew I was a big fan. On one of my birthdays, many moons ago, I answered my ringing cell phone (a primordial Nokia) and heard a gruff voice saying, “Hey, hi. Is this Evan?”

Puzzled, but intrigued, I confirmed that it was indeed me. “This is Les Paul. I just want to say ‘Happy Birthday’ and I hope you have a great day!” This was the kind of guy he was. Here was one of the biggest icons of popular music going about his daily routine, taking a moment of his time to say “Happy Birthday” to me. He also left a little autograph for me at the office: “Keep pickin’!”

This weekend, celebrate the life of Les Paul right in his own hometown. The Mahwah Museum will be hosting Les Paul’s Big Sound Experience, featuring a 53’ mobile unit showcasing the best that Les had to offer. The museum promises that a “totally interactive and musical experience” will be provided to visitors. Hours are Friday, June 12, 2 – 9 p.m., Saturday, June 13, 1 – 9 p.m., and Sunday, June 14, 12 – 7pm. It is free of charge to attend any of the events.

On Sunday, there will be some live music available: Bucky Pizzarelli, Ed Laub, Lou Pallo, and the Les Paul’s Trio will do some performing on Sunday, June 14 at 1:00 p.m. Directions, and other information about this weekend, can be found here. 

Keep pickin’ out there, everybody. Keep pickin’!

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