LIB'ing Legends

LIB’ING Legends: Paul Newman

When the stages get quiet and the lights grow dim many make their way to the JiveJoint night after night to catch a unique performance from one of Lightning in a Bottle’s most loved stars, the illustrious showman Paul “Super Tall Paul” Newman. As a beat-boxing champion and ukulele playing legend Super Tall Paul represents one of the longest celebrated staples of the LIB nightlife and a sonic oasis from the bass heavy stages. With his modular JiveJoint that assembles something like the imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, Paul brings with him a mountain of talents, including juggling, unicycling, stilt walking, improv and singing – just to name a few. Along with performances that incorporate numerous instruments and the hijinks of his friend Ross “Rossome” Steeves, his interactive theater experience is enjoyable for the whole family. In other words, you can bring along the kids or simply sit back to enjoy the show with a cup of cocoa to feel like one all over again.

LIBing Legend: Paul Newman - First Year at LIB: 2004 - Total Years at LIB: 13 years – Offering: JiveJoint  STP1

Photo Credit: JORG Photo

Tell us about your first experience contributing at LIB.

It is getting a bit fuzzy as time goes on but I know was originally introduced to the LIB brothers in conjunction with their band the Serotonins. This was well before the Do Lab was a thing let alone a house hold name. I was collaborating with a fellow friend by the name of Rich Alick. He and I being both jazz musicians and beat makers decided to collaborate and form a music duo we called Helios Jive. Already long time party friends of the Flemmings, we were invited to their early birthday parties that eventually became LIB. The first official LIB, I think was 2004, Helios Jive played into the sun as we had already been a regular on the Do Lab event bill. That was a very magical time for me as it truly dawned on me that LIB was an example of Heaven trying to make its way to this plane. Let me explain. If I was to try and mentally conceive what heaven would be like it would be a super creative environment, in nature, where everyone was contributing their highest selves for the love of it. Stimulating art everywhere. The best music you would ever want to hear. And, joyous lovely people expressing themselves everywhere. I was forever changed!!

What do you think makes LIB different from other festivals?

As LIB has grown it has not lost the spark of magic it ignited in its origins. It is basically the same thing with more people and bigger stages but the elements that make it special are still more present than ever. Stimulating and immersive art, great music, and very happy people embodying and encouraging self expression. The ‘now’ heaven on earth.

What can guests expect to experience in your area this year at LIB?

The Jive Joint is an art installation in motion. An ever changing statue being chipped away by moments generated by unsuspecting participants. The integrity of the Jive Joint crew is held to the promise that we will never allow ourselves to be fully prepared or comfortable with what we are presenting. While we are always talking about funny ideas we never actually craft them to then have an audience just watch. We hold ourselves on stage ever slightly off balance. This causes us to truly be in the moment, truly be with the audience, and truly create something unique and special to that moment. An abstract formula so to speak for generating the most insanely hilarious moments that you will never be able to explain. Aside from that norm, this year we are integrating multi-media into the show. I have been working hard putting together a live projection video rig (similar to my musical looping rig) that will allow me to stream live feeds for candid camera moments with the audience, dramatic replays, live looped video, newscast style interviews with passerby’s, green screen magic, and live social media interaction. Consider this another dimension of antics playing alongside and enhancing the theatrics you have come to expect. This is not high tech video mapping and well planned psychedelic imagery. No, this is high tech gear being used in a very low tech way. I guarantee we will have lots of failures which ultimately lead to improvisational hilarity, as it happens at the Jive Joint. We are also planning on having much more daytime activities this year. Improv workshops and afternoon jam sessions. It is going to be so much fun!!

Where can we most likely find you at LIB when you’re not at the JiveJoint?

Since the Jive Joint’s peak operating time is midnight to sunrise you will most likely find me sleeping in my tent. People ask me “how do you go all night?” The answer is simple. Aside from being passionate about my art, I go to bed everyday at sunset and set my alarm to wake up around midnight to fire up the Jive Joint. In fact, we have many regulars over the years that do the same thing. They set their alarm for like 3 in the morning to laugh and bring the sun up with us. You may also find me wandering the festival one or two times in the weekend with my beautiful wife Rachel and my two daughters Charlee and Daisy. (This will be Daisy’s first LIB.)

Describe LIB in three words or less.

Heaven on Earth!

What are you currently working on?

We are coming up on our 7th or 8th year at Coachella where we will be debuting our multi-media platform. Find us in general camping during our usual late night hours.

We are super excited to have an official Jive Joint monthly in downtown Los Angeles. It is the 2nd friday of every month (unless we have to move it around to accommodate a festival.) It is at a super secret theater in the back of a Gourmet, Vegan, Vietnamese restaurant called Au Lac. This has been a proving ground for ideas as well as the standard sillytown world of the Jive Joint you have grown to love. A sort of spontaneous dinner theatrical if you will. I suggest purchasing your tickets beforehand as it is a 70 seat capacity and we have been selling out. If you can’t make it we have committed to live streaming the show. You can find the streaming links on the JiveJoint twitter and Facebook the night of the show.

Featured Image Credit: Aaron Glassman

In a new series by Do LaB, we take a walk down the immersive side of memory lane with the co-creating characters that have returned to Lightning in a Bottle time and again with a full-fledged world in tow. To hold onto those moments that transport us to other realms and deepen our connection to one another, we commemorate the greats who made them possible in a weekly interview series that we like to call LIBing Legends.

by: Graham Berry

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