Happy birthday to Les
How would you celebrate your 100th birthday?
In Les Paul’s case, it involves Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, a mass guitar jam and raising money for the Waukesha County Museum in his hometown.
Paul — inventor of the solid body electric guitar, among many other musical and technical achievements — died in 2009 at the age of 94. But no doubt he would have gotten a kick out of the Les Paul 100th, in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday back in June.
Taking place Thursday at Naga-Waukee Park in Delafield as a kickoff event for the weekend’s Waukesha BluesFest, the 100th features a headlining performance by Milwaukee’s mightiest guitarist, Greg Koch, with his band the Tone Controls and special guest Nielsen. An audiencewide guitar jam is open to all skill levels, even first-timers; secure storage will be provided for guitars afterward.
Waukesha-born TV and film producer and composer Chris Hanson and vocalist Robin Pluer will perform a Les Paul and Mary Ford tribute. White House of Music will offer free guitar lessons. Items from the Waukesha County Museum’s Wizard of Waukesha exhibit celebrating Paul will be on site. Other performers include Willy Porter, Sam Llanas, Johnny A, the Guitar for Vets Five-Star Band, all-female high school rock band Eminence and Nashville session player JD Simo.
The Les Paul 100th takes place from 5 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $25, available on site, and in advance at the museum and waukeshablues fest.com, with proceeds benefiting the museum. Admission is free for children 12 and under.