NAMM got even more crowded Friday, as anyone who stood in line for security, bathrooms or food quickly realized. But the stars were out in force the guitar rooms, the electric and acoustic piano halls, and in vendor stages. Plus, the She Rocks Awards vibrated the House of Blues with guitar shredding by Orianthi, screaming sax lines by Nita Straus and rock harmonies by the Command sisters in a tribute to Janis Joplin. But first, the hip hop harp.
Indiana-based Rees Harps assembled a large and impressive booth for what are normally seen as concert instruments, and then drew sizeable crowds with rock, jazz and hip hop by the internationally known R&B singer/songwriter and performing artist Lyrika Holmes. Taking the crowd through the basics and tricks of harp playing, she moved smoothly from one genre to another, keeping her audience glued to her instrument despite the din of the other music in the hall. Holmes demonstrated why there is growing interest in the classical technology of harps in both rock bands and fusion music.
A new technology introduced at NAMM 2019 is what may be a revolutionary keyboard by the Italian firm Dexibell. The new model S9 was described by R&B and Boogie Woogie Queen Dona Oxford, who rocked the Dexibell stage, as a game changer for her, saying it allows her to do things with just one keyboard that others require add-on models to accomplish. The inventor of the new line of Dexibell instruments was on hand to explain how the S9 88-key instrument can produce a digital piano range and the digital organ chords and unlimited notes polyphony – useful for film scoring – with a combination of patented sampling and modeling algorithms. Oxford demonstrated the instrument’s capabilities as she banged out boogie woogie, R&B, and rock songs for a crowd so large that it blocked the aisle in front of the Dexibell booth.
The guitar rooms were crammed with instruments both old and new and stars like Peter Frampton, Charlie Parra, and Rews. Peruvian guitar hero Charlie Parra (Charlie Parra del Riego) in particular packed the Gibson room with a mostly male crowd. Standing alone on stage, he played a long set of tunes and shreds that echoed throughout the 2nd floor. However, across the hall in the Cordoba room, filled with beautifully crafted acoustic and electric guitars, it was another world. A largely female crowd enjoyed both stage players and audience members strumming, picking and practicing flamenco in a quiet atmosphere designed for careful listening.
The drum and symbols halls featured house-sized booths by Sabian, Gretch, Remo, Ludwig, and others, with literally hundreds of men and women testing the kits, symbols, drum tuners, and drum heads, creating a background sound level that was palpable. In the middle of this was the drumTalkTV booth where Executive Producer Dan Shinder and his Vegas-based team interviewed drummers from bands large and small. Early in the afternoon, they brought together the Drummergirls United Group, cramming several dozen female drummers into the booth for taped and live interviews despite the halls noise level.
The night wrapped up for many at NAMM with the She Rocks 2019 Award at the House of Blues about a half mile from the Convention Center. Co-hosts Lyndsey Parker, music editor at Yahoo Entertainment, and Fox 11 News host and songwriter/music video producer Christine Devine presided over an all-star night. Guest performers included the Command Sisters, Terri Nunn, Lisa Loeb, Nita Straus, and Orianthi. The British duo REWS opened the program with their high- energy melodic rock. The Icon Award was given to Janis Joplin, accepted by her sister. The evening wrapped with a stunning set of “Mercedes Benz”, “Piece of My Heart”, and “Me and Bobby McGee” featuring an all-star cast of Nita Straus, Orianthi, Judith Hill, Vanessa Amorosi among others.
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