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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Inside the enormous music event that is NAMM - Jan 21 edition 2017

The Guide -- and 'purt near everybody else's music journalists -- find ourselves immersed in the massive NAMM Show this week. In our case, our readers know we already started, last edition, to inform everyone about the great big, whole-huge bunches of new gear and other music products debuting here, It is, as a famous impresario would say, "a reeeeeally big shew."

Our # 1 news feature takes you inside the Winter NAMM Show for a lil' visit.

A short second feature is about the world outside of, and wholly beyond NAMM. It's a bit of perspective on this weekend as a moment in time and history.

We'll be back soon to launch our detailed series of reports on new goodies that debuted at NAMM.

Thanks for sittin' a spell on our porch. The haun dawgs'll keep ya comp'ny whilst it's looking like rain, so settle in.



1) NAMM in Full Swing, in Exhibit Halls and on Multiple Stages

2) When CNN Killed the President

Let's get started!


# 1 news feature...


There's far more to see at the annual NAMM Show than anyone can, even with four days to do it. This year's show, January 19-22, proceeds undaunted by Friday's rains, and the expectation of precipitation on Sunday. As it does every year, "Winter NAMM" has conquered the entire Anaheim Convention Center, including the basketball arena -- and it fills the meeting and convention spaces in all the surrounding hotels.

"NAMM is a world stage. The media is here, magazines are here, musicians are here; it’s a one-stop-shop for us, as far as exposure. What NAMM does for the relationship with our dealers is it shows them we have partnered with them in the promotion of the brand," said Saul Koll, of the Koll Guitar Company.

An "industry only" event, the NAMM Show is NOT open to the public. It simply could not be. There would be no way to accomodate all the music fans who would try to get in.

Things work here, and it's akin to to the way an anthill or a beehive works. From outside, it appears diligently random, just short of frantic. On the inside, all the milling about is purposeful for each individual going in the opposite direction of others. Then again, isn't that a partial description of art?

Perhaps the essence of why NAMM is such a big deal was expressed by, Bryan LeVan, National Sales Manager for Remo, who said, "NAMM serves as a hub of communication between dealers, the manufacturers, as well as the consumers and artists. Not only do we have our international distribution partners here, but also international and domestic dealers. We don’t miss many customers here — a huge percentage of our market and customer base comes to NAMM. We get to build partnerships with other exhibitors and help each other build our businesses."

Here at the Guide, we always do our best to keep our readers appraised of what's happening at NAMM, the best of what's new, what debuts that's interesting and innovative, new signature models of guitars or other acoustic instruments that are out, and which artists blow us away with their performances -- especially impressive since NAMM attendees, as music professionals, are the most knowledgeable and demanding audiences anywhere in the world.

Most of our reporting on all must wait until these four days are in the history books. Unless we scramble, get the facts, hear and see the things that happen only here, we'll miss too much while we're sitting in the press compound, writing about something we just saw. But we won't make you wait to read about ALL that we are learning and choosing to report. Here's a bit of NAMM news.

So far today, Saturday, at NAMM, attendees are taking advantage of the blue skies and crisp Orange County winter air, after yesterday's rains. The plaza is filled with folks giving lots of business to the armada of prepositioned food trucks and catching the performances on the nice outdoor, festival-style stage. That's in the closed street between the Hilton and the Marriott, in front of the Anaheim Convention Center.

Saturday day began indoors at 9:30 am with the "Grand Rally for Music Education" with Black Violin, Bernie Williams, and Keb’ Mo’ performing in a motivational atmosphere in the Anaheim Hilton's California Ballroom.

We were thrilled to catch the great Muriel Anderson performing with her signature dual-neck harp guitar on the plaza stage. It was the only chance NAMM attendees had to see her in action at the show. After a 20-year span presenting a NAMM edition of her world-touring "Muriel Anderson's All-Star Guitar Night," last year's edition was cancelled, and this year, it just didn't happen.

At noon today was the "Soundbreaking" event, celebrating "The Birth of ‘Sgt. Pepper’ and Other Tales From Abbey Road."

In addition to spending lots of time and shoe leather in all the cavernous exhibit halls today, there are plenty of things happening tonight for attendees.

At 6 pm, Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes play outdoors on the NAMM Nissan Grand Plaza Stage.

At 7 pm, the 32nd Annual "NAMM TEC Awards" will hold sway, honoring Joe Perry of Aerosmith. That's in the Anaheim Hilton's Pacific Ballroom.

And of course, plenty of music people who haven't seen each other in a year will have all the local restaurants and watering holes filled, and flock to gigs for miles around to hear friends play. All will magically reappear Sunday, fresh and coherent, for the event's final day.

We'll give you a quick look back. Friday was a good day at NAMM, despite many hours of rain.

The 6 pm performance by Bernie Williams and his All Star Band, with Keb’ Mo’ and Poncho Sanchez, had to be moved inside from the Plaza Stage to one of the big hotels. The rain had stopped, but no one knew it would.

The annual "She Rocks Awards" happened in the Anaheim Hilton's Pacific Ballroom, with an amazing lineup of top women musicians. We'll report on that another time.

Our day Friday was as tunefully rich as any best day at a top festival. The morning breakfast session featured a performance by the Kruger Brothers, who we have covered before. Originally from Switzerland, they settled in North Carolina and befriended the late Doc Watson. Endorsed by Deering Banjo, NAMM goers always look forward to catching the brothers perform in the Deering booth and a stage in one of the big hotels. This year marked their first turn on the big stage before 5,000+ attendees at the breakfast. It was a thrilling half-hour of banjo, guitar and acoustic bass, with roots music that often turned orchestral, and a stunning rendition of Sting's "Fields of Barley."

Afternoon brought the accidental discovery of a duet set by classical guitar great Pepe Romero and ukulele/multi-instrumentalist master Daniel Ho. The two have a CD together, and we'll review it in the near future.

We made a quick trip from our post-concert chat with Daniel and his lovely wife, and caught another of ukulele's royalty, the wonderful Jake Shimabukuro. He performed to celebrate the release of his new techniques and methods book, published by Hal Leonard.

Yes, Hal Leonard and Alfred are two of our favorite stops every year. These wonderful music publishers each continue to demonstrate strong commitments to acoustic Folk-Americana and each plays a crucial role in enabling young musicians to learn and perform, and therefore to propagate, vital elements of our culture. We've reported on their songbooks and more historical tomes on music of the Civil War, Westward Expansion, on through the early frontier fiddle tunes, riverboat banjo tunes, and more, on through to today's folk music.

Our Friday evening concluded on an especially high note, and one that's become a high point every year. Shubb Capo and Saga Musical Instruments always present an all-acoustic show headlining John Jorgensen and his five-piece band of virtuosos, centering on Djangostyle Gypsy jazz, and surprising with stellar renditions of cross-genre classics. Opening were two other bands, each longtime headline acts. They are The Tora Bora Boys, whose essential repertoire is Appalachian standards and bluegrass, and the all-star Western music trio, New West.

We'll be back in the NAMM exhibit halls as this gets out to you. There are new headphones that keep exceeding anything engineers could imagine. There are new string instruments, and new life being breathed into some ancient ones, including string instruments that seem exotic now, but may be as common as the ukulele in a year or two. There's a dazzling array of new music software that introduces quick capabilities that used to take hours of careful mixing. All that and plenty more.

That is but a hint of what's ahead with our coverage. We already began our NAMM coverage last issue, with a feature on some new gear, just announced. Now that we're in amongst 'em, we're checking-out plenty of things great and small, "up close and personal," as a sports reporter always said in a time long ago.

More on NAMM after the fact, when we collect ourselves and get our ducks in line. No, there aren't any ducks here. Even if the rain makes us feel like ducks, and resemble them when we don out big yellow suits. Even if the pitter-patter of rain is a pale imitation of the cacaphonous rumble in the drum hall, where it seems like an unending earthquake. We'll get it organized for you. Meantime, stay dry, and if you're in a position to help someone without a roof find a dry, warm, place of shelter from the storm, do.


# 2 news feature...


by Larry Wines

We're at the NAMM Show, and like the rest of the music world, are oblivious to the news of Friday's inauguration and what seems to be a lot of related protests, some focused, some rather general, across America throughout the weekend.

But we did not miss this, and no one should.

In a lengthy feature Thursday morning, the day before the inauguration -- not some dumb aside, but a full package -- CNN's Wolf Blitzer explored "What would happen if something took Trump out at the Inauguration?"

Roughly twenty-four hours before the inauguration will take place, as mandated by the highest authority of the American system, the U.S. Constitution, we get this.

The scenario was that Trump, Pence, and all the incoming Republican leadership -- including the House Speaker and Pres Pro-Tem of the Senate -- were "taken out" by "something." Something being a terrorist attack, natural disaster, whatever. CNN apparently wants you to use your imagination. (Or maybe they want to pump-up the viewership by invoking the car-race-might-become-a-car-crash scenario.)

Through a convoluted exercise, the CNN team were able to produce an outcome wherein a member of the cabinet of the supposedly outgoing Obama administration becomes president.

Tortured logic is an understatement. A panel of Constitutional Law professors couldn't come up with that one. Rod Serling is still dead, isn't he?

So, I ask: is "Fake News" -- bad as it is -- the worst of all possible scourges to our democracy? Or is it worse to plant murderous notions in the minds of the unbalanced? Or is it worse simply to take your slogan of "The most trusted name in news," and make it into a shock-and-awe sensationalist fantasy? Or is the worst thing of all to plant the idea in the public consciousness that Constitutional democracy can be "gotten around," subverted when Spider Man swings in on his web, or the Incredible Hulk decides "It's clobberin' time!"

Oh, wait a minute: CNN has been doing that for a while, haven't they? Like when all those "embedded reporters" rolled across the Kuwait-Iraq border in a boy scout cookout adventure for those regime-change invasion festivities (rah-rah for our team). Or like when Don Lemon suggested that one of those missing airliners (they always seem to be carrying all of CNN's other news in the cargo hold) disappeared because "maybe it was swallowed by a black hole"-?

Okay. Preponderance of evidence. Never mind. CNN is within its normal operating paradigm. That's why Blitzer makes the big bucks.


Stay tuneful! See you next time!



Boilerplate? Where's the main pressure gauge? And the firebox?

What "boilerplate"? Who came up with that goofy term for the basic essential informational stuff...

Pssst – Hey, kid. Yeah, YOU: It won't be so "basic" when we add all the links for the global network of music news / music education sites that we're joining; THAT'LL be here very soon, as an ESSENTIAL COMPONENT of the Guide returning to being a MUSIC NEWS journal!

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Lawrence Wines & Tied to the Tracks.
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♪ The ACOUSTIC AMERICANA MUSIC GUIDE endeavors to bring you NEWS – and views of interest to artists everywhere – more specifically to musicians and the creative community and music makers and fans of acoustic and Folk-Americana music. That includes both traditional and innovative forms. From the deepest roots to today’s acoustic renaissance, that’s our beat. We provide a wealth of resources, including a HUGE catalog of acoustic-friendly venues (now undergoing a major update), and inside info on FESTIVALS and select performances in Southern California in venues from the monumentally large to the intimately small and cozy. We cover workshops, conferences, and other events for artists and folks in the music industry, and all kinds o’ things in the world of acoustic and Americana and accessible classical music. From washtub bass to musical spoons to oboe to viola to banjo to squeezebox, from Djangostyle to new-fangled-old-time string band music, from sweet Cajun fiddle to bluegrass and pre-bluegrass Appalachian mountain music to all the swamp water roots of the blues and the bright lights of where the music is headed now.
The Acoustic Americana Music Guide. Thanks for sittin' a spell. The porch'll be here anytime you come back from the road.


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