In my laundry room my beat-up world weary suitcase sits next to my washing machine. Her insides still full with a week’s worth of laundry and a few goodies Winter NAMM 2017 sent my way. Tonight, the laundry will remain undone and the toys, trinkets, pedals and more from the largest music trade show in the world will remain like last week’s shirts, untouched and neglected. No fewer than a few scant hours have passed since the long ribbon on concrete and asphalt led me from Anaheim, California back to my home in the high desert of Southern Nevada and I am left reflecting on the how the road does wonderous things for the mind. It gives you a solace and clarity that few other activities can afford. Tonight’s blog articulates a number of my NAMM experiences in vivid techicolor and puts them into words before vivid memories makes way to hazy recollection.
The NAMM Show represents something different to everybody that goes there. A sort of 4 day Rorshach test for the musical auteur. For some it’s to be discovered, others to do the discovering. The start up music company is thrown into the race with established giants of industry, or maybe the very giant they are up against is on the look out for something new and innovative to change the marketplace. Maybe that change comes from the guys that have a twelve by twelve booth and a small tattered vinyl sign advertising their small piece of the expo.
NAMM will bring out the widest cross section of the music loving, making and selling audience you will ever see. In my own experiences, it isn’t the guy walking around with the biggest entourage (Stevie Wonder) or the largest security guards (Steve Vai) that will have the furthest reach or the deepest pockets. It’s usually the extreme ends of the musical-meets-fiscal measuring stick. It’s the guy/girl with a planner full of meetings that will decide on the next year’s million dollar deal with X, Y or Z company, or as mentioned earlier, it’s the inventor, the musician, or salesperson that has the next great thing or idea that just needs one change and a business card to change the musical landscape. Both people you will walk by at NAMM. Both people will pass right by you….and you will never know it.
If the music manufacturers are one half of team music maker, then the artists themselves are the other half. There is a stage or jam session hitting any myriad of musical sweet tooths out there. Jazz guitarists wowing gathering crowds with enough alt chords to make Joe Pass weep with joy, bass grooves to spare, guitar pyro technics from holdovers of the hair metal days and horn players making the newest trumpets, trombones and more look and sound incredible. It’s when you least expect it when a musical talent knocks the wind out of your from the sheer amazement they have in their craft.
Lisa Bella Donna. Damn. Stopped me in her tracks with her playing. Her Hammond was ran through an array of Earthquaker devices. Delays (single and double as Sarah’s flute) but also reverbs that gave her Hammond space to live and breath in. Shades of Bill Evan’s hit me when listening to her with her masterful stroke of silence vs. sound. Where many musicians can just not play and silence happens, her silences and and uses of spaces was deafening in the best way possible. She allowed the music to develop with Sarah in an unrushed and unimpeded way that left you guessing and wanting the next note. In a convention hall where volume of sound and notes is king, Lisa was the queen of NAMM in giving a very captive audience the exact amount of notes, texture and groove that made her music collaborative effort with Hargis my favorite musical moment of NAMM. The Mini Moog she was playing delivered warm bass lines to drive the music forward or reign it in as needed. My immediate homework for NAMM is to find more of their music as soon as possible.
As NAMM 2017 gets put into the past tense and the wheeling, dealing and beat making sets up the rest of 2017, I am truly thankful for being able to spend the past four? Five? Days with so many musicians from around the world. I hope each found what or who they were looking for and are able to express their own art in with the help of those they met in Anaheim. The long drive back to Vegas through rain, snow and hail gave me plenty of time to decompress and defrag my brain that is beat up from 5 days of the a creative energy I’ve never experience anywhere else. If you’ve not gone to NAMM, go. Get there. Be part of the creative energy. Be part of the greater vibe for the greater good of musicians everywhere. To those that were there this year, I thank you. For your talent. For your heart and for your courage to express your art to the rest of us.
Las Vegas, NV
Jan 23 2016
2016 finally ground to a halt a little less than 48 hours ago. So much internet chatter has been dedicated to losing so many of the movers, shakers and dream makers of the world that I don’t need to add any more fuel to that fire on my website, so tonight I’ll shine a light on the positive highlights of what 2016 gave me.
From Fan to Friend…
Musicians, artists, craftsmen….we all make our living on the shoulders of the giants that preceeded us. Beethoven studied Bach, Dizzy Gillespie studied Roy Eldridge. In my own career many of the musicians scattered around the globe that have influenced my own music have in their own way, been giants. Individuals who at one point in time were no more than moving pixels on a website, turned into flesh and blood people with interviews and Skype sessions connecting me to some of my favorite artists at the personal level. Sharing tips, tricks…or in some cases….a living space with artists from around the world, 2016 gave me so many opportunities to do this, and brought these people…these giants a lot closer to the ground.
From Student to Scholar
I remember the first time I bought a mic….and a loop pedal. I remember my first gig. I remember my first gig as a loop artist. To have that clarity of those initial steps in this facet of the music industry….and to now be invited to top tier music colleges, performing arts schools and private schools…not only gives me a feeling of accomplishment, but also ground my teaching style. I taught everyone from middle school students in Gary, Indiana to some of the most accomplished collegiate musicians at USC’s Thornton School of Music, to those in the Cirque Du Solei shows on the famed Las Vegas Strip. Each group had it’s own beasts to wrestle with, but also had its own unexpected glory. 2016 gave a deeper width and breadth to my music education skill set that is refined, recharged and is already in demand in the first quarter of 2017.
From Faceless to Face-of
2016 brought me closer to the companies that have supported me for a number of years, and also brought me into the rank and file of companies I never thought I’d have the opportunity to represent. From mics to speakers to effects pedals and everything along the signal path, I’ve been very blessed to work with some of the best companies in the world, and look forward to making our symbiont relationship flourish even more in 2017.
From Chaos to Cash
When 2016 kicked off, I found myself at a crossroads. I knew I wanted to revamp my rig. New sounds, new capabilities, and a smaller footprint were paramount to the next chapter of my gear. It took me the entire year to revamp my set up and in upcoming blogs and videos, I will give you the nickel tour of my new rig. My rig now is right where I want it and the direction I see my music headed with excites me to no end.
2016 to 2017
So how do I follow up 2016? Well, this year is going to serve as me taking my music, my art, my business and more to the next level. I was talking with a musician I know a couple of nights ago and I was asked, “What is your plans for 2017?” I replied simply, “To pour gas on the fires I lit in 2016.” New videos, new gear…and an EP on the way..I have my hands more than full at the moment.
Where ever this blog finds you…I wish you happiness and health all year and into 2018. Drop me a line sometime and say hello if you dig reading my blog. I will write back…pinky swear.
Lets do this 2017,
Las Vegas, NV, USA
Just Alliance's Blog
Thoughts, ideas and musical musings from this Silver State Loop Artist.