From the 1930s into the 21st century, jazz guitarist and inventor Les Paul was an influential figure in American popular music. Not only was he a virtuosic performer, but he was also one of the pioneers of the solid body electric guitar as well as numerous recording techniques and playing styles that have influenced guitarists to the present day. He holds the distinction of being the only inductee in both the Inventors Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he is featured in one of the museum’s few permanent exhibits.
In the late 1940s Paul partnered with his wife Mary Ford to become one of the mid-century’s most popular performers with many best-selling recordings. In 1950, they launched a popular television show with performances highlighting Paul’s signature recording innovations such as close-miking and multitrack recording. This new sound was to influence and inspire succeeding generations of musicians and sound designers.
Rowan University’s Kevin Stahl will be discussing this remarkable artist’s career and contributions to American popular music on Sunday, May 21, 3 p.m., at the Harrison Township Historical Society’s Richwood Academy Cultural Center. Stahl is an award-winning film composer, video game composer, sound designer, producer, drummer and music educator. Like Paul, he uses his unique blend of technical skills to compose music and sound design, and provide computer programming support for hundreds of movies, television shows, web series and video games.
Mid-20th century history is the focus of “Back to the Fifties,” the current exhibition featured at Old Town Hall Museum in Mullica Hill, the period when Les Paul and Mary Ford were national celebrities. Stahl’s program will provide insights into the popular culture of that influential era. The exhibition is open Saturdays and Sundays, 1 to 4 p.m. through June 10 and admission is free.
Stahl’s program takes place at Richwood Academy Cultural Center, 836 Lambs Rd., Richwood, NJ. There is no admission fee; free tickets are available online at the Harrison Township Historical Society’s public Facebook page. The program will also be livestreamed and archived at Facebook for future viewing. Facebook membership is not required to access the program. Information can be found at Facebook and at Old Town Hall Museum 856-478-4949.
The Harrison Township Historical Society’s arts and history programs are made possible in part by funding from the Gloucester County Cultural and Heritage Commission at Rowan College of South Jersey, in partnership with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State and the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey Historical Commission/Department of State.