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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Top honor for Joni Mitchell amidst 35th annual NAMM Tech Awards' comprehensive recognitions. Special edition, Sunday Jan 19 2020

Large, small, manipulable, pocket-size or viewable like Cinerama, tech in music is in 
constant flux. Still, innovators bring revolutions that produce new paradigms, so it's
time to take stock of recognitions granted by peers who know the future 
when they see it. (Acoustic Americana Music Guide photo.)
Anaheim, Calif. - Winners in 23 technical and eight creative excellence categories were announced and honored at the 35th Annual NAMM TEC AWARDS, Saturday night, January 18, in the centerpiece "after hours" gala as part of the enormous global NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA. The awards, presented by the NAMM Foundation and held here annually, recognize the most exemplary achievements and innovations behind the sound of recordings, live performances, films, television, video games and multi-media. 

Comedian, actor and musician Fred Armisen took to the podium to host. Presenters included Lisa Loeb, Herbie Hancock, Andrew Huang, Bishop Lamont, Elliot Easton,  Maureen Droney, “Skunk” Baxter, Brian Hardgroove, and Michael Braunstein of the Les Paul Foundation.

The NAMM TEC Awards have the awkward distinction of being the esoteric centerpiece of the global crossroads of the music, pro audio and entertainment technology industries, The NAMM Show. Most NAMM attendees are at concerts or other performances Saturday night, or at dinner with industry friends they only see here once a year, or simply in their hotel rooms with shoes off after completing three of the four days on the floor of the cavernous convention center. Yet this event is the platform for the industry's best innovators, inventors, engineers, and those for whom science and art can tangibly meld. While the Recording Academy's GRAMMY Awards, eight days later, will capture all the ink and breathless broadcaster babble, none of what is celebrated there could happen without the innovators who are recognized here at the TEC Awards. This is also where related recognitions can outshine the TEC Awards themselves in terms of popular attention. That is always the case with the night's biggest moment.

Joni Mitchell, meet Les Paul

Joni Mitchell, honored with the Les Paul
Award  at the 2020 NAMM TEC Awards.
(Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)
Innovative producer, songwriter and artist Joni Mitchell was given one of the night’s most anticipated honors from The Les Paul Foundation: the Les Paul Innovation Award. The foundation’s Executive Director Michael Braunstein introduced the award and called Mitchell “a true renaissance woman.” Pianist/composer Herbie Hancock presented the award to Mitchell and noted “it’s hard to imagine a world without this courageous woman’s brave songs and records.”

There is no way to estimate the ongoing influence of the late electric guitar master Les Paul. The same can be said for lyrical mastery and often unheralded recording studio and production innovations of acoustic guitar maven Joni Mitchell.

Mitchell remarked that she was “truly honored,” as several artists took the stage to give the folk songwriting heroine a musical celebration worthy of her long and revered career. The repertoire in song included Suzanne Santo to play “The River;” Kevin Ross doing “A Case of You;” Weyes Blood doing Mitchell's legendary “Woodstock;” and Venice (who had played a set earlier in the evening to a packed hotel lobby) performing “Free Man in Paris.” 

The Les Paul Innovation Award has been presented annually to remarkably-distinguished individuals from the music industry, including Jackson Browne, Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Paul McCartney, Neil Young, and 2019’s recipient, Peter Frampton.  

Wonky dazzle and recognition of innovators

The TEC Awards ceremony kicked off with a Don Wilson Tribute performance and medley of Ventures tunes that warmed up the crowd before guitarist “Skunk” Baxter presented Wilson with a Music for Life Award, saying “You gave us a great gift that keeps on giving!” Billy Bob Thornton added a special video greeting calling his in-studio time with Wilson one of the “greatest honors of my life.”
Fred Armisen, who emceed, performs at the 35th Annual NAMM TEC Awards.
(Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for NAMM)

For the first time, three companies won two awards each in Outstanding Technical Achievement. They were Genelec (for their Aural ID and S360 A SAM products), Universal Audio (for Apollo x16 and their Capital Chambers PlugIn), and API (2448 Console and the 550A 50th Anniversary Edition 3 band EQ product). 

Roey Hershkovitz and Lisa Loeb took part. 
(Jerod Harris/Getty Images for NAMM)
In Technical Achievement, winners picked up honors in Wireless Technology (Shure), Microphones-Recording (Townsend Labs), DJ Production (KORG), and several additional categories in Headphone/Earpiece TechnologyMusic Instrument Amplification & Effects, Production Essentials and beyond, that celebrated companies producing impactful products that have landed at the top of the field among their peers.

The Outstanding Creative Achievement category winners in one case, reflected a year (2019) filled with a slew of superhero films, and featured Marvel’s Spider-Man from Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment, taking home the top prize for Interactive Entertainment/Sound Production

Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” from Darkroom/Interscope Records was the top slot in Record Production/Single or Track.

Bohemian Rhapsody” (20th Century Fox, Regency Enterprises, GK Films) won in Film Sound Production.

The Grammy Awards continued to sweep its multiple year-to-year NAMM TEC Award wins, with another trophy for its 61st Annual Grammy® Awards (CBS).

2020 TEC Hall of Fame award

Next, and also before Joni Mitchell was honored, recording engineer Dave Pensado and record industry veteran Herb Trawick, the creative duo behind the weekly web series Pensado’s Place, were named recipients of the 2020 TEC Hall of Fame award. Both were honored for successful careers with an impact in the music industry, as well as long-standing efforts to share their knowledge through their global online show. The duo has also engaged in tireless mentoring opportunities, teaching tomorrow’s audiologists, producers and musicians. 

The announcement of their award was made from the stage by Maureen Droney, Sr. Managing Director for the Recording Academy® Producers & Engineers Wing®. “I’ve always felt like the next best thing to music is to talk about it,” said Pensado. 

Trawick noted, “I thank the sponsors, guests, legends, artists, streamers, tech companies. We’ve had a very lucky career and worked very hard at it.” Trawick also thanked their peers in the audience “because of all of your gifts, tools, talents, abilities.” Pensado’s Place reaches an audience of over six million per year.

Here is the complete list of 2020 TEC Award recipients, by category, numerous because it recognizes the best in each of many specific areas of expertise.

Suzanne Santo performs. Appropriately,
a night that honored a woman artist
featured multiple women artists.
(Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)


Amplification Hardware/Studio & Sound Reinforcement
Auratone – A2-30 

Audio Apps & Hardware/Peripherals for Smartphones & Tablets
Genelec – Aural ID 

Audio Education Technology
iZotope – Pro Audio Essentials

Computer Audio Hardware
Universal Audio – Apollo x16 

DJ Production Technology (Hardware/Software)
KORG – minilogue xd

Headphone/Earpiece Technology
Neumann – NDH 20

Large Format Console Technology
API – 2448 Console

Microphone Preamplifiers
Rupert Neve Designs – 5211 Dual Mic Pre

Microphones – Recording
Townsend Labs – Sphere L22 v1.3
Weyes Blood performs at the TEC Awards.
(Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

Microphones – Sound Reinforcement
Aston Microphones – Stealth

Musical Instrument Amplification & Effects
Line 6 – HX Stomp

Musical Instrument Hardware
Moog Music – Moog One

Musical Instrument Software
Spectrasonics - Omnisphere 2.5

Production Essentials
Cable Wrangler

Signal Processing Hardware
Solid State Logic - Fusion

Signal Processing Hardware (500 Series Modules) 
API – 550A 50thAnniversary Edition 

Signal Processing Software (Dynamics/EQ /Utilities)
FabFilter – Pro-Q 3
Southern California-based band Venice, inheritors and standard bearers of the 
blended harmonies and soaring melodies that characterize the enduring folk-rock
"Laurel Canyon sound," were a fine choice for the lineup that honored Joni Mitchell.
(Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM)

Signal Processing Software (Effects)
Universal Audio – Capitol Chambers

Small Format Console Technology
Allen & Heath – SQ Digital Mixer Series V1.3

Sound Reinforcement Loudspeakers
JBL Professional – VTX A8 Line Array

Studio Monitors
Genelec – S360A SAM

Wireless Technology
Shure – Axient Digital ADX Transmitter

Workstation Technology/Recording Devices
Avid - Pro Tools 2019


Film Sound Production
Bohemian Rhapsody (20thCentury Fox, Regency Enterprises, GK Films)

Interactive Entertainment Sound Production
Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac Games | Sony Interactive Entertainment) 

Record Production/Album
A Star is Born (Soundtrack), Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper (Interscope Records) 

Record Production/Single or Track
“Bad Guy,” Billie Eilish (Darkroom / Interscope Records) 

Remote Production/Recording or Broadcasting
61stAnnual Grammy Awards (CBS) 

Studio Design Project
Old Mill Road Recording (Francis Manzella Design Ltd.) 

Television Sound Production
Game of Thrones (HBO /Warner Bros. Television)

Tour Event Sound Production
Freshen Up, Paul McCartney


What will next year bring? That's of greater interest than what might warrant award consideration. It's the most pressing question for every mom 'n pop music store, and the subject of many hours of critical and thoughtful analysis for buyers on the floors of every gallery during every precious minute of the NAMM Show.

NAMM TEC Awards supporters include The Les Paul Foundation, Amazon Musical Instruments, Sennheiser Electronic Corporation, Neumann, Solid State Logic, Softube, Yamaha, Antelope Audio, Universal Audio, AVN Systems, Wells Fargo Commercial Distribution Finance, Hal Leonard, Broadjam, Inc., Pioneer DJ, PreSonus Audio Electronics, d&b audiotechnik, Meyer Sound Laboratories, Inc., United States Postal Service, L-Acoustics, Cable Wrangler, Slick Audio, Genelec, The Recording Academy: Producers & Engineers Wing, Izotope, Inc., Leapwing Audio, Adam Hall Group, Oktava Design & Marketing, Musilla, Inc., NTi Audio, Inc., IMSTA (International Music Software Trade Association), United, CITT/ITS (Canadian Institute of Theater and Technology), Sonic Scoop, Wonder Wonder Sound and AMS Consultants, among many others.

You can watch scenes from the event on the TEC Awards YouTube channel:

The Official Hashtags on social media are: 

#TECAwards #NAMMShow

There's more info about the NAMM TEC Awards at:

Learn more about The Les Paul Foundation, at:


More from the 2020 NAMM Show as we process, investigate, follow-up with exhibitors, and get it ready to roll onto the cyber press.


We have lots of MUSIC NEWS
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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.
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