Nashville and NAMM go together like perfect words and a memorable melody: All the makings of a great song are right there in front of you. And there’s always such a a great vibe at this smaller of the two shows, with the world’s best musicians wandering around discovering new gear and meeting some brilliant entrepreneurs who are helping them create better music.
One of the highlights of this year’s summer NAMM was a panel featuring some of Music City’s greatest session players, hosted by my pal and Nashville Musician’s Association president (and bassist extraordinaire) Dave Pomeroy. He gathered his buddies—drummer Craig Krampf, violinist Jonathan Yudkin, guitarist Troy Lancaster and songwriter J. Fred Knobloch—for an hour of insights into how sessions work, the Nashville chart system, and even threw in a demonstration with a song Fred brought in. It could not have been a more perfect hour, and left us all even more in awe of the talent in this town.
After that I ran into my friend Stacy Widelitz so we puttered around the exhibit area for a while geeking out over the gear. Then we stopped by the Hal Leonard booth and he found the new book with the sheet music for “She’s Like the Wind,” the mega hit he and Patrick Swayze wrote for Dirty Dancing. (Dirty Dancing is, by the way, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Which makes me way older than I want to be. But still younger than Stacy.)
Right before NAMM started it was announced that Presonus (founded by Jim Odom who was in LeRoux, one of my favorite Baton Rouge bands when I was growing up) acquired Nimbit—a direct-to-fan site—and are integrating those services into Studio One Artist, Producer, and Professional to create a complete solution for music and audio creation, sales and promotion. I was so happy to see my friend Phil Antoniades, who founded Nimbit, to give him a big congratulations hug. I can’t wait to see all the great things these two companies are going to create for performing songwriters and indie artists. www.nimbit.com
And now on to a few of my favorite things found at the 2012 Summer NAMM as I wandered around the exhibit area. I’d love to know if any of you stumbled on something I might have missed, so be sure and mention them in the comment area below!
This little hand-held device does it all: Full hi-def video recording, live streaming, and uncompressed audio recording. And man, does it open up tons of possibilities for performing songwriters and social media … just think about it. Live stream a house concert, create hi-def music videos, and the sound is great with its condenser mic in a 30-degree to 150-degree Mid-Side stereo configuration. At a list price of only $199, I can’t wait to get one of these.
This wireless guitar controller was creating a big buzz at NAMM, with a constant crowd around the demo area. Basically the Triple Play is an ultra slim pickup, controller and wireless USB receiver that gives your guitar some freakish sound potential. I was told it would be released sometime this summer, with a list price of between $300-$400. Check out this video from our friends at Harmony Central and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Way to go, Fishman!
Just being near a Martin guitar makes me happy. And a whole booth of them is flat-out nirvana. I think that emotion we all tend to feel about a Martin guitar has to do with the history and tone that we know is inherent in each one, born right into the wood. For this NAMM show Martin went back to the mystique and tonality of the vintage Martins and unveiled the Retro Series—four models that will resonate with any guitar lover. Take a listen as Chris Martin tells about the beginnings of the project, his work with Larry Fishman, and then see how Bill VornDick and his mic collection came up with the sounds for the pickup. So inspiring!
This may have been my favorite find of the show. It’s a 2.1 sound system with effects that you can plug your guitar or bass into, and then cranks out crystal clear sound. It has over 350 pre-loaded audio loops that you can play along with, or you can upload your own. You can record, change tempo and keys, and has two inputs with individual controls—so it’s also a great solution for music lessons. It’s supposed to ship this month, and lists for $429. Very, very cool!
As I stopped by the Q-Lighting booth and saw their Personal Light Show product, I thought about how perfect this would be for traveling performing songwriters, house concerts, solo gigs, etc. It comes with a compact travelling case, 8 heads, is easy to use, and—a huge plus—the lights don’t get hot. Whew. And all that for only $350. And there’s a Micro PLS for $275 that is battery powered and has 4 heads. Check out this video by our friends at Concerts In Your Home.
I stumbled on the Stoned Picks display, off to the side of another exhibitor’s booth, and fell in love with these little hidden gems. They’re beautiful, would make great gifts, and are even available as earrings. Just sayin’…
Here’s the link—now shop away!
For all you bass players (or wanna be bass players), TC Electronic unveiled the BH250 Bass Head that will make your own head spin. It’s super compact (4 pounds), has a 250 watt amp, and interfaces with TC’s progressive TonePrint technology where you can simply load sounds onto it from your iphone. I love, love, love how forward-thinking TC Electronic is with their technology. This video with Uriah Duffy is a perfect showcase for the BH250 that is scheduled to ship this October at a list of $299.
Entrepreneurs are having their summer in the sun and popping out some really great products this year. Top of that list is the brainchild of musician Brooks Hubbert who realized there was no easy way to access his iphone apps during performance. So he came up with the Sonic Clamp, which fits right onto the upper bout of the guitar or bass. And thus he invented a solution to a common problem. It debuted at summer NAMM, and can be purchased exclusively on their website.
OK, so I actually first saw and fell in love with this 5th Avenue Uptown GT at the Winter NAMM this past January. Then, in what was clearly kismet, the very first booth I wandered into at the summer NAMM was Godin, and there it was again. I swear it was calling my name in all its cherry-red glory as I kept walking past, more or less flirting with it, until I gave in and just picked it up. Wow. As spectacular as I remembered. So I just wanted to send another shout out to this 6-string crush of mine, and hope I get another close encounter soon. xo.
That’s it for my summer show wrap-up, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the NAMM Show in Anaheim January 24-27, 2013. And just in case you didn’t know, this Nashville NAMM show marked the last one in the old digs before moving to the brand new Music City Center in 2013—a state-of-the-art facility that is going to make Nashville proud. Mark your calendar for July 11-13, 2013 and make plans to attend and help celebrate! And if you find me there and I’ll even buy you a beer…