Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Where Is The Little Colored Girl??"

Long time no speak..
Sorry about that.
I''ve been off for the summer, so I decided to take it easy for a while. I haven't been home for the summer in a very long time, and it's been a rather strange one with the crazy weather and all that's been happening in the world.. The loss of some of our greatest musical icons..

The summer has become my favorite season of the year (sometimes autumn still wins out), but this summer with all of the rain and sad news brought out the introspective side of me. While I've been hard at work on a new record, I also feel strangely detached from music lately. I feel very passionately that this record is some of our best work to date, but still I've needed to take long breaks from recording to pursue other interests and to stop and reflect now and again..
Its been refreshing..
I've also discovered lots of new music which I'll share with you soon.

I got a dog this summer too, who I absolutely adore :-)
We rescued her from a shelter and she is an angel.. We've been going for long walks and getting to know one another..

On another note, it occurred to me recently that you guys don't know that much about my musical history, so I thought I'd share a funny story with you..

One of the things you don't know for instance, is that I have a great love for
standards and for big bands in particular. I'm a huge fan of all the greats.. Ella, Sarah, Billie, Nina, Dinah.. The list goes on, but I also listen to a lot Duke and Count and a few others.

The reason this is so is because of my grandmother. This was the music of my
grandmothers era.. She played it in the house all while I was growing up. She would sing her favorite songs to me and stand me on the coffee table to teach me how to dance.
As a kid I would sing an Ella Fitzgerald song just as easily as I would a Chaka Khan or Michael Jackson song.

A few years back I became completely obsessed with finding big bands in New York to hear and to sit in with.. I was unaware that there was whole movement dedicated to keeping the music alive and once I discovered that, I was ecstatic.. I dedicated myself right away to trying to establish myself on the scene, buying big band arrangements which I didn't realize are crazy expensive! I had a nice collection of vintage dresses, now I had a chance to use them.. It was an exciting time and I made a lot of new friends and learned a lot of new music..

The interesting and very cool thing about being a part of this scene was that when you went to a concert there was always dancing and the crowd would be a mix of people ranging in age from 20 all the way up to 70 and 80 year olds including the legendary Frankie Manning (the man credited with inventing the Lindy Hop), and Dawn Hampton (another incredible and much sought after dancer and singer in her own right).

In this way young people got to mix with people who actually were around in the 1930's and 40's and lived to tell about it, and believe me, these were great and often colorful stories to be sure!

In the midst of this I also met many great musicians and their wives and
girlfriends.. It was one of these musicians whose girlfriend Amy said to me one day, 'I want to introduce you to Les Paul'.


Now before I go on with the story, let me interject.. I am a Jimi Hendrix fan.. I LOVE this man... If there was anyone that I could go back in time and meet, there are a few but Jimi would be at the top of that list, ok?
Ok, so suffice it to say that I've read many books on Jimi Hendrix and in reading about Jimi, I learned a lot about Les Paul, inventor of the electric guitar, inventor of the multi-tracking tape machine, both of which revolutionized music and the recording industry forever..


(A little known fact, Les Paul tried to sign Jimi to his record company right around the time moved to England to record his first record.)

So back to the story.. My friend Amy had said she wanted to take me to meet Les Paul and more specifically, she wanted him to hear me.. Of course I was very excited and honored but I was starting to tour a lot so finding the time became difficult..

Eventually, I had a break one spring and was hanging out in the city to see one of my favorite big bands, the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra. Amy was there and said 'Hey let's run over and see Les, you want to?' And of course I said yes..

Now for some reason, I was wearing my hair in Indian styled braids then.. You know, 2 long Pocahontas plaits, one on each side.. Maybe I was just lazy but it was summertime and it was easy and saved me time but it made me look 12 years old.. :-)

Anyway, we get inside the club and go back stage before the show and Amy introduces me to Les and he was very nice, really nice, but of course he meets lots of people everyday, and he kept forgetting my name a little. Normally I would have attributed this to his being a little older but the man was so sharp and so witty, I mean he had such a hilarious sense of humor and you just know that no one is that funny or astute without having all their faculties straight. I'm sure he was just tired of having to meet and greet people that night, which I totally understood. I was still
very excited about meeting him none the less..

If you've never seen Les Paul, he used to do every Monday night at the Iridium night club in New York. I think he must have been doing this for about 20 - 25 years though it could be longer.. He'd play guitar along with upright bass, piano and another guitar.. No drums.. And he played beautifully, I mean I've never heard anything like it.. His touch, his phrasing, just beautiful.. I'd heard that he'd suffered a stroke several years back and couldn't play for a while and after he resumed playing he didn't think his playing was as good but I totally disagree. After seeing him that first evening, I bought a few of his records and I swear I couldn't tell the difference.

The club was packed and it was a who's who of famous guitarists and other musicians as well. I think the guitarist from Bon Jovi or Aerosmith was there.. In any case, Les told story after story, playing songs in between, and inviting various guests up to sit in.

Toward the the end of the set, he leaned over to ask the guitarist a question, to which the guitarist shrugged his shoulders. Then he leaned over and asked the pianist, probably the same question and he also shrugged..
He then leaned in to the mike and said, "I'd like to invite a young lady up right now, but I'm embarrassed to say, I don't remember her name... Is the little colored girl still here? There was a little colored girl backstage earlier, with 2 long plaits, are you still here young lady?"

As I looked around, I realized I was the only colored girl in the room and realized to my surprise, he was talking about me..
Hahahaha.. I had a good chuckle then got up and made my way to the stage..

As we hadn't paid to get in, Amy and I were sitting in the back of the club, so it took me a few minutes to get to the stage, all the while Les was still calling out for the little colored girl.. Then went into another story while waiting for me to come up (it really was that hard to get to the stage).

Finally, he finished the story, invited me up and said "Well young lady, tell us who you are" to which I replied "Hi everybody, I'm the little colored girl"... the audience roared!

Then I sang a song, and Les said it was wonderful and asked me to do another and then another, and then he said something I'll never forget.. He said, "You know Miss, I'd like to invite you back to do a whole evening featuring you on vocals with the band, would you like that?" And I said I would like that very much, and then I thanked him and left the stage..

My friend Amy said Les never let's people he doesn't know sing more than one song so I should feel honored, and I did..

That is my Les Paul Story..

We've lost some great ones this year.. But they will always be remembered for what
they gave us..

Thank you for reading..

Below is a partial list of famous guitarists who play a Les Paul guitar

Duane Allman - Sunburst, Goldtop
Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day) - Junior
Martin Barre (Jethro Tull) - Standard Sunburst
Jeff Beck - Standard Sunburst
Fran Beecher (Bill Haley and His Comets) - Custom
Ariel Bender (Mott the Hoople) - Junior
Chuck Berry - Custom
Dickey Betts (Allman Bros.) - ’59 Standard Sunburst, ’57 Goldtop
Marc Bolan (T.Rex) - Standard Sunburst
Kix Brooks (Brooks and Dunn) - Standard
Buckethead - Custom
Bumblefoot (Guns N’ Roses)
Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac) - Custom
Chester Burnett "Howlin’ Wolf" - Goldtop
Toy Caldwell (Marshall Tucker) - Standard
Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard) - Standard
Graham Coxon (Blur) - Custom
Charlie Daniels - ’58 Standard
Eric Clapton - Standard Sunburst, ’61 SG-style, Custom
Steve Clark (Def Leppard) - Standard
Bill Connors (Return to Forever) - Custom
Sheryl Crow - Special
Dave Davies (The Kinks) - Custom, Goldtop
Al Di Meola - Custom
Rick Derringer (Johnny Winter And, Edgar Winter Group) - Goldtop
Andy Dunlop (Travis) - Deluxe
Elliot Easton (Cars) - Goldtop
David "The Edge" Evans (U2) - Custom, Goldtop
Don Felder (Eagles) - Standard
John Fogerty - Custom, Goldtop, Standard
Peter Frampton - Custom "Black Beauty"
Ace Frehley (Kiss) - Custom
Robert Fripp (King Crimson) - Custom Black Beauty
John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) - ’69 Custom
Noel Gallagher (Oasis) - Standard
Jerry Garcia (The Grateful Dead) - Goldtop
Billy Gibbons (Z.Z. Top) - ’59 Sunburst
David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) - ’56 Goldtop w/Bigsby
Ray Gomez (Stanley Clarke) - Standard
Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam) - Standard
Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac) - ’59 Standard Sunburst
Steve Hackett (Genesis) - Goldtop
Kirk Hammett (Metallica) - ’68 Custom "Black Beauty"
George Harrison - Plain top Standard
Warren Haynes (Allman Bros, Gov’t Mule) - Standard, Les Paul 12-string
Jimi Hendrix - Custom
James Hetfield (Metallica) - Custom
Noel Hogan (The Cranberries) - Custom
James Honeyman-Scott (The Pretenders) - Standard
John Lee Hooker - Goldtop
Steve Hunter (Lou Reed, Alice Cooper) - Special
Davey Johnstone (Elton John) - Custom
Adam Jones (Tool) - Custom
Billy Jones (The Outlaws) - Custom
Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones) - Goldtop
Mick Jones (The Clash) - Junior, Custom
Mick Jones (Foreigner) - Custom, ’61 SG-style
Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) - Custom, Special, Sunburst
Terry Kath (Chicago) - Les Paul Recording
Danny Kirwan (Fleetwood Mac) - Custom
Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) LP seen in "Money for Nothing" video
Allen Lanier (Blue Oyster Cult) - Standard
Albert Lee - Custom
Frank Lero (My Chemical Romance) - Epiphone Standard
Alex Lifeson (Rush) - Standard, Custom
Kerry Livgren (Kansas) - ’69 Deluxe
Thin Lizzy (Scott Gorham - Deluxe; Brian Robertson - Deluxe; Gary Moore - Standard; Snowy White - Goldtop; John Sykes - Custom)
Steve Lukather (Toto, sessions) - Standard Sunburst
Harvey Mandel (Canned Heat)
Paul McCartney - Standard Sunburst, Goldtop (both left-handed)
John McLaughlin - Custom
Mike McCready (Pearl Jam) - Standard
Henry McCullough (Joe Cocker, Wings) - Goldtop
Bob Marley - Special
Sonny Mayo (Amen) - Custom
Steve Miller - Goldtop, Standard
Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) - Standard, Goldtop
Jimmy Page - ’58 and ’59 Standard Sunburst
Les Paul - a bunch of ’em, but especially the Les Paul Recording
Carl Perkins - Goldtop
Joe Perry (Aerosmith) - Standard Sunburst
Vicki Peterson (The Bangles) - Custom
Rod Price (Foghat) - Custom
Mick Ralphs (Mott the Hoople, Bad Company) - Junior
Amy Ray (Indigo Girls) - Standard
Randy Rhoads - Custom
Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones) - Standard, Custom
Gary Richrath (R.E.O. Speedwagon) - Standard, Goldtop, Custom
Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser (Blue Oyster Cult) - Standard
Mick Ronson (David Bowie) - Custom
Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd) - ’59 Custom
Todd Rundgren - ’61 SG/Les Paul
Carlos Santana - Special
Joey Santiago (The Pixies) - Custom
Joe Satriani - Standard
Boz Scaggs - Goldtop
Tom Scholz (Boston) - Goldtop
Neal Schon (Santana, Journey) - Standard
Kenny Wayne Shepherd - Standard
Slash (Guns N’ Roses) - Standard Sunburst
Earl Slick (David Bowie) - Custom
Steve Stevens (Billy Idol) - Standard
Steve Stills - Custom with Bigsby
Joe Strummer (The Clash) - Junior
Hubert Sumlin - Goldtop
Mick Taylor (The Rolling Stones) - Standard Sunburst
Johnny Thunders (New York Dolls) - Junior
Pete Townshend (The Who) - Deluxe
Ted Turner (Wishbone Ash) - Junior
Joe Walsh (James Gang, Eagles) - Standard Sunburst
Muddy Waters - Goldtop
Jeff Watson (Night Ranger) - ’56 Goldtop
Leslie West (Mountain) - Junior
Whitesnake (Adrian Vandenberg; Mick Moody; Bernie Marsden; Mel Galley)
Brad Whitford (Aerosmith) - Standard Sunburst
Nancy Wilson (Heart) - Epiphone Les Paul Ultra
Johnny Winter - Goldtop
Ron Wood (Faces, The Rolling Stones) - Custom
Zakk Wylde - Special
Neil Young - ’56 Goldtop painted black
Frank Zappa - Goldtop

1 comment:

  1. I gotta say, this was an excellent story. I would have loved to have heard you sing.


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