So we did it. 2012 Winter NAMM has come and gone, and I’m not really sure how I made it out alive. We were in kind of an inebriated Fear & Loathing style happy mess at the Hilton next door for the weekend, and the amount of bells & whistles and flashing lights and drums and people was just nutty and incredibly stimulating.
I had been trying to get passes for NAMM since I first learned about it when moving to LA, but it had just never worked out. This year though, I guess since I buy & speak so kindly on all things Roland, my friend HYMNL & his wife (who works at Roland) got us the invites & hotel room comped for the weekend. And from there it was on.
I couldn’t even begin to start trying out new gear and looking for things in the future that I might want to pick up just due to the sheer size & scale of the convention. I didn’t know where to start, and with the amount of demonstrations and activities going on everywhere it was just too overwhelming for me to focus on anything.
When we first arrived on Friday, we saw DJ Counterstryke from Divine Forces Radio there, so we went and chopped it up. Of course, if you know Counterstryke who still rocks the ‘98 era Akai varsity letterman jacket, the discussion went right to the new MPC’s. I guess you can call them Numark’s since Akai isn’t even its own company anymore. I asked him if he was excited about the new line, and of course the answer was a ‘Hell no’. That was expanded on due to the ‘MPC’ taking out everything that made it great and charging $1300 for a controller/audio interface. Of course, ‘Akai’ claims the software will be better than Ableton, so maybe it’ll be worth it. Watched a bit of Teddy Riley give a demo & talk about it, wasn’t too impressed. I didn’t try them personally, so I can’t say anything negative, I just don’t dig the concept.
The Moog, Dave Smith and Big City booths were a lot of fun. The Hammond booth had the good Dr. Lonnie Smith hanging out there all day. We didn’t get to see him demo anything, but he did perform with Bernard Purdie on Fri night at the Hilton. Seeing those two together was definitely a treat.
After the Bootsy show & after a few drinks we were in the elevator on the way to the Hilton lobby to see Pretty Purdie. We stop on a floor and in walks an older guy. This f’n guy Counterstyke & him give each other the “Ohhhh….heyyyoo”, a little handshake and hug. Turns out the guy was Tom (or Jon?) Hammond, president of Hammond organs. He tells us he’s on his way to watch Dr. Lonnie perform on his new 35lb. B3 organ. Turns out, and we didn’t even know, that we were going to see Lonnie Smith & Purdie together. Definitely ill.
Purdie was really the event/performance I was looking forward to the most & I had brought my copy of the Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott-Heron to get signed. After the show a couple people bum rushed the show to buy his CD & get it signed. I just rolled up w/ the wax & that was dope because I got a couple minutes to chop it up about that album & say thank you for everything he’s given us over the years. Did pick up a CD afterwards though. An intense moment for me, fosho.
We stayed at the party in the hotel lobby until around 4, but the music was done at 1, & I have no idea what happened in those 3 hours. The last band was a Van Halen cover band, of all the possible cover bands you could be. Shit was hilarious, especially with the amount of older Rock chicks all decked out for the evening. It was like Christina Applegate in Married With Children, except they were getting up there in age. It was all good though, in a Roadhouse bar party kinda way. Too much fun.
The next day we woke up and went over to check out the Beat Junkies 20th Anniversary at the Rane Mixer booth. Def nice to catch, as I had never seen all the members together like that.
We spent a lot of time downstairs, where a ton of smaller companies and companies that make experimental instruments were located. I felt like we were in the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of musical instruments. Too much cool stuff to check out. Also caught a nice performace by bassist Abraham Laboriel for an amp company. Abraham had 2 younger guys with him, one conga player and another on flute, so it was really dope in a little Last Poets-style session.
We ventured back to the Roland arena after that (Roland had the entire convention center arena to itself). As we were getting there these 2 super babes were getting onto the smaller Boss stage. Not sure what to expect, we stuck around. A minute into the set we were like ‘this is the best shit ever!’ I’m not the biggest metal fans, but these girls were shreddin’. It was damn captivating.
After about a half hour or so a band went on the main Roland stage, so we went & chilled in the arena seats for a while. Caught the end of their set from up there as well, def a highlight. Found out later they’re from a LA band called the Iron Maidens. Some bad, bad chicks. Will def be trying to catch them around town.
Unfortunately, I missed Stevie Wonder (he was there all weekend, I guess & performed at a tribute for one of my fav bassists – James Jamerson), Herbie Hancock, James Gadson, Bernie Williams, Z-Trip & I’m sure tons more. I was trying to use my phone as little as possible & just soak up the event, but as I was leaving I realized I could have been following the NAMM tag on Twitter & been aware…all good though.
The one new product I saw I was def diggin’ was the Tascam DP-24. Tascam’s been making great “Portastudio” recording devices for years (decades?) now. This one seems to be a continuation in that tradition. All the 2012 features you could want and relatively low price tag makes me hope I can find some budget for it.
Big thanks to Joseph Timmons for allowing me to use the last 3 pictures in the set. Def worth checking his blog out as well!
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