Marshall Crenshaw may be known for a lot of things, but slacker isn't one of them.
He's had an illustrious career that spans more than 30 years, releasing 10 albums and touring as a solo artist and with several notable acts, including the reunited members of the MC5. Music aficionados will remember his hit single “Someday, Someway," or “’Til I Hear It From You," which he wrote with The Gin Blossoms.
He portrayed John Lennon in the off-Broadway hit Beatlemania and Buddy Holly in the Ritchie Valens biopic La Bamba, which starred Lou Diamond Philips.
Now Crenshaw is joining the impressive list of artists to grace the stage of the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City on October 29, 30 and 31, all of which honor the unsung heroes of the Gibson Les Paul. Joining him will be The Les Paul Trio and other special guests, including singer-songwriter Nikki Jean from indie/hip-hop band Nouveau Riche, keyboardist Charlie Giordano of the E Street Band and guitarist Steuart Smith of The Eagles.
The Iridium is also giving away a Gibson Les Paul guitar signed by Crenshaw. The grand-prize winner gets a Gibson Les Paul in Traditional Sunburst and two tickets to the October 31 show. If he or she happens to play guitar, the winner can sit in with The Les Paul Trio and Crenshaw.
Five runners-up will win a pair of tickets good for any night -- October 29, 30 or 31.
Speaking of Les Paul, Iridium hosted the man himself every Monday night for several years until he passed away in 2009 at age 94. In his honor, the Iridium has continued hosting Monday-night shows that are dedicated to Paul’s music and legacy; 20 percent of the proceeds from the shows go toward the Les Paul Foundation.
Crenshaw got the idea to expand on the Monday-night performances and include an event celebrating his favorite Les Paul players.
“I sort of got this idea spontaneously when the Iridium asked me to do this Monday-night thing," Crenshaw said. "I thought, 'Well, why don’t we do something thematic?' I thought of all my favorite Les Paul users from before Eric Clapton and Duane Allman when the first Les Paul guitar came out back in the '50s. People like Mickey Baker from Mickey & Sylvia, Freddie King, Frank Beecher from Bill Haley and The Comets, Al Nevins from The Three Suns and Jim Hall. So we’re going to pay tribute to all these different guitar players.”
Crenshaw said he'll also play some of his own material as well as Nikki Jeans’ and "whatever else comes to mind."
“I think it’s just going to be a musical feast,” Crenshaw said.
Crenshaw became familiar with Paul and Mary Ford through the Robert Hall Clothing Store commercial jingles. He said he was fascinated by Paul’s inventiveness and all his oddball, eccentric, mad-scientist stuff.
If you get the chance, check out Crenshaw‘s most recent release, 2009's Jaggedland. It has plenty of skillfully crafted gems that ought to capture the attention of any serious guitar player. Beginning with the opening track, “Right On Time,” the album gallops out of the gate. It has a very nostalgic and ethereal quality to it, akin to driving through a lonely desert, just soaking up the scenery –- only stopping occasionally at remote places to fuel up.
The rocking “Gasoline Baby” stands out. The guitars have oodles of stompbox flanger thrown into the mix -- tastefully added, of course -- and the effect propels the listener into space, complete with exploding fireworks and shooting comets.