NAMM 2018 gallantly delivered a superb and fun filled week of activity. There was something for everyone including having a nice ray of sunshine to light the way for all attendees. There were the usual crowds but this year was different and things had a lighter feel perhaps due to the beautiful 70 degree weather. The faces of the people entering the Anaheim Convention Center were reflective of hope. As most of you may know over the years NAMM has managed to continue embracing trends of the old and the new while always seeking hip and innovative ways to make the NAMM experience fulfilling.
The NAMM show media preview day gave an the opportunity for selected media to get up close and get a good idea of how the event kicks off days before the music industry’s public make their way through the secured entrance of the convention center. The latest sounds, equipment and technology help to support budding talent, influence merchants, captivate buyers and enhance the talent of those who are fortunate enough to participate.
We hit up as many booths as possible this time and noticed that most of the artists and merchandisers were in sync in their making sure that each patron was treated with respect and had an easy time accessing the appropriate information needed to make purchases, sell and above all network. The global event hosted celebrity appearances intermixing over 7,000 music brands interactive demos and live concerts onto a foray of 3 levels. The convention center became organized blocks of numbered booths, and sectioned off floor space including specified suites to house VIP guest and to take advantage of by invite only activities. Musicians celebrities and media from around the world gathered with business leaders flanked by over 500 panels that featured educational sessions from NAMM U, their partners A3E, AES, Tec Tracks and a host of others. Artist like Jesse Hughes Eagles of Death Metals, Tom Petty Crew and Reunion Panel were on board to uplift and share their experiences. A special highlight of the week was the Les Paul Innovation Award that was given to Jackson Browne. For those who have never been to NAMM it’s important to wear comfortable clothing and shoes, sneakers or boots that are especially made for walking. Outside of the eating areas there is little space to sit or stand for long periods of time and the rows are always full of people busy networking, are performing artist and doing business.
It’s always a blast to see the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus which gave us an opportunity to get an inside looki-loo into what goes on in the preparation of touring year round. Upon walking through the door we met Gabe the on board operations engineer for the roving 12 in length and 2.5 in width touring bus. Gabe talked to us about the process of selecting high schools that merit a yearly visit. There are three on board engineers who travel the entire length of the tour. There is no profit for the educational based organization whose goal is to write and record original music with interested students. In addition the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus has a European counterpart. The expanded width is 4.5 and height (m) 4 weight(t) 26. It houses a video, audio recording studio and is one of the most advanced mobile recording studios for education in the world. In addition it comes with two full featured audio studios with one of the studios HD capable and ready for video production. Jaime Walden added bits of humor as she talked about her humble beginnings with the organization for eleven years and her present position as VP. It was great to know that women are a part of powerful undertakings and making enormous contributions.
Each year the convention comes with a bag full of surprises always step up when it comes down to providing good solid entertainment, like the annual NAMM’s She-Rocks event. She-Rocks is one of the few events that honor women in music, their accomplishments and high quality leadership abilities. NAMM insures that talent such as Melissa Etheridge, Cindy Wilson, Kate Pierson of the B52’s and Pat Benatar who all hit the stage at the Anaheim House of Blues to celebrate She-Rocks in unison and to accept their honorary awards, are never forgotten. www.thewimn.com
Of course one never knows who they might run into and just like all previous NAMMS there was talent abound. We had fun tracking down Parliament Funkadelic’s bling diggety, atomic dog master of eclectic disguises funk maestro himself, Bootsy Collins, who seemed to hold the crowd in suspension, making sure that everyone saw him in all phases of his calm cool yet whacky character. Just nearby we caught a quick glimpse of award winning bass man, Marcus Miller. Miller is always well dressed whether in a suit or sports attire and always on the move while doing business while managing meets and greets along the way.
Mad max man Doug Wimbish of Living Colour and a Sugar Hill delight seemed to come right out of the air floating right into the Peavey suite to do a riveting live performance. How is it that he can walk, talk, and move around from one space to the other without missing a lick? That’s why he is a mad wizard of electronica. He plays bass with an almost unnerving intent. He pulls the heart strings of whoever hears him play and is an amazing human being. Clearly a walking breathing bundle of talent maestro of blending funky bass with contemporary sounds, Wimbish filled the Peavey suite with a host of loyal fans and an unmatched sound that left everyone hungry for more. He talked about the recent drop on their new album, Shade under Megaforce Records. Living Colour includes Wimbish, Corey Glover, Vernon Reid and Will Calhoun. The boss on bass man mentioned his producing and working with his group D.M.D and its members, Daru Jones on drums and Marcus Machado. The band’s new single, After Dark is out on video. Wimbish is due to release his third solo album this year.
Audeze’s well developed critically acclaimed superb and ultra-clear sounding headphones designed for pleasurable listening whilst remembering the sensitive ears of musicians was a pleasant surprise. The magnetic paper drive was originally developed for NASA. We had a quick chat with Craig Behrens there who explained why Audeze has the best equipment and clearest sound offered to producers, engineers and musicians who simply want the best. Audeze is perfect for mastering and mixing engineers who want to hear how what they produced sounds. www.audeze.com
Off we went running to hang with the Gilliam’s and had a chance to speak with the other half of the duo a sensual jazz-tress with the honey comb voice, Elena Gilliam. Jazz has always been respected although not quite as commercialized as pop or hip-hop. Elena mentioned that she is going through an experimental phase with her music and wanting to transition into a contemporary sound without losing the true intent of the genre. Husband and jazz elitist George Gilliam had plenty of congrats thrown his way when wifey gave us a rundown on the benefits of working together as a team. Her pride beamed as she spoke of how George created and developed the Creative Identity program located not far from the Anaheim Convention Center. The non-profit program is music and art based and a pre-vocational day program for the community. Servicing 18 years of age and older the program can accommodate anyone with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is ongoing and was established in 1996. www.gilliamjazz.com. http://www.creative-identity-oc.org
When it comes to upgrading hardware Hipshot is the company guitar lovers look to according to Dave Borisoff a 37 year attendee of NAMM. Hipshot specializes in updating guitar hardware and will custom make any piece that the customer wants including offering fast delivery. www.hipshot.com.
Ming Tong of Shanghai China is the general manager of Mendelssohn Pianos. He gave an in-depth view of the differences of acrylic glass pianos and wood pianos. Acrylic glass pianos take about five months to make. Unlike wood pianos that are usually used for classical music acrylic glass pianos are used more for a jazzy sound, Ming Tong said. The sound is very different and they look more beautiful. Also the design is more modern and for shows. The pianos are all hand polished and are the fashion piece for a five story hotel in Dubai. The suite also held an event called. “A Room Full of Pianos” fifty pianos playing the same song at the same time featuring the piano that was in the Ford Theatre the night President Lincoln was shot. www.piano.com and www.niendorf-piano.de
It was four days of non-stop NAMM. Bruce Wulach of Messenger Electronics had some great news to share his announcing the very first Hollywood Music History Museum. The museum will bring attention to instruments and the musicians who played them; something that to date has never been done and with the support of Stevie Wonder and Quincy Jones it is sure to be a success.
Well NAMM 2018 was just as we suspected a place where good music is never forgotten true talent is sought after and if you meet the right people, and buy the right products dreams really can come true. https://www.namm.org/thenammshow/2018/events/schedule