When it was officially announced that Waukesha had been accepted as an official Gibson Guitar Town, word traveled fast throughout Waukesha and other communities, and many people were excited about the title that Waukesha was attaining. Yes, Les Paul was born in Waukesha. True, Les Paul now rests in Waukesha. Yes, people from around the world are certain to visit Waukesha to learn more about the person who contributed so greatly to the music world. However, it’s more than the fact that Waukesha is the home of Les Paul and adorned with tangible items that represent his presence in this world.
While some people look at the Waukesha Guitar Town Project as being a great way to drive people into the streets of downtown with hopes of frequenting shops, eateries, and other business establishments, others look at this project with an eye of artistic value. After all there are the beautifully painted guitars and other pieces of artwork to tribute this guitar legend displayed all around downtown Waukesha. Music is a form of art, and Les Paul was all about music.
To me the “Guitar Town” title is all about who Les Paul was and what he stood for. Waukesha is where he called home…
The Waukesha Gibson Guitar Town Project goes far beyond the other guitar towns. Not to discredit the value that these other towns have in the eyes of Gibson guitar fans and beneficiaries of the donations that are raised to support many worthy causes and organizations. The other guitar towns are awesome in that regard. But nothing hinges so greatly with the other guitar towns as the Waukesha Guitar Town Project does with Les Paul – the innovator of the solid body electric guitar, the inventor, and the selfless man.
No one person might have done more for the music industry than Les Paul. Not only was he a musician, but an inventor and an award-winning recording artist. Guitars around the world bear his name, and he developed revolutionary engineering techniques. Further, Les Paul could play anything from jazz and country, to pop.
To me these unique facts, coupled with the human being that Les was, make things so much more passionate on a personal, hometown level.
I defer to quoting the following from Sue Baker at the Les Paul Foundation website:
“When musicians told Les they no longer played because of an injury or illness, he told each of them, ‘Stop feeling sorry for your self and start playing again.’ Les claimed that within a year every one who heard that command thanked Les for giving back their life.”
“Throughout his career, Les greeted each person with genuine curiosity. He met people where they were. His blue eyes absorbed who was in front of him; nothing else mattered for that moment. He switched with ease from technical conversation to discussing music intricacies to charming pleasantries, never losing his Midwestern charm.”
A Selfless Man…
That appears to be the nature of who Les Paul was. He even went so far as to make plans for continuing this selflessness through a foundation that would continue after he passed from this world. The Les Paul Foundation was created to “honor and share the life, spirit, and legacy of Les Paul by supporting music education, engineering and innovation, and medical research.”
One can only hope that someone will dedicate some form of venue to playing the music and other compositions created by Les Paul, although I have yet to hear anything in that regard (hint). What would be even nicer is a venue where visitors could listen to his music, purchase Les Paul memorabilia, and maybe even a burger and coke while they relax after visiting the exhibits?