A week of events dedicated to longtime Mahwah resident, legendary guitarist and inventor Les Paul was topped off with the annual Les Paul Tribute Festival concert. Over the course of the week, a joint venture production by the Mahwah Museum, the Ramapo music program and the Berrie Center hosted a series of lectures and demonstrations for the fourth annual Les Paul Tribute Festival.
The seminars included a demonstration of Paul’s harmonic concept taught by Sue Williams and Marg Sganga. There was also an improvisational jazz workshop led by Peter Prisco and PJ Cotroneo, a workshop and question-answer session with Charlie Hunter and a concert titled “Brahms’ Summer of 1876,” which is a part of the Open Door Concert Series by Evelyn Estava, Jeffrey Shah and Itay Goren.
The final concert was a two part feature celebrating the work and talent of Les Paul. Beginning the show was a student musician, Victor Soldano, whose unique voice and folk musicianship impressed the audience. Following Soldano was another student act, The Austen Marcelo Group. The group of recognizable Ramapo musicians were led by the frontman trumpet player Austin Marcelo. They performed a combination of jazz and funk, as well as a Les Paul classic “How High the Moon.”
The 2015 Les Paul Award was given to Lou Pallo, longtime friend of Paul and supporter of the program since its inception. Pallo now joins past recipients Roger Johnson, Charles Carreras and The Les Paul Foundation. Pallo accepted the award and quickly exited stage right, opting not to give a speech.
The headlining act was the acclaimed duo Charlie Hunter and Scott Amendola. The pair of musicians recently reunited and brought their talents to the Berrie Center to do a show in honor of Paul. They performed a very lengthy set that felt like one continuous song, trailing off and quickly roaring back up again. They played off of each other well, and it was clear that Amendola’s drumming and Hunter’s guitar playing could stand alone. However, performing as a duo, they were spectacular. Pallo made a special appearance with his guitar and played two songs with the pair and by popular demand, played an encore.
The event on the whole was an ode to music appreciation. The Les Paul Tribute Festival is an annual collaboration between student and non-student parties on campus, as well as groups from outside of Ramapo, coming together to put on a week filled with memorable events.