Entertainment, On A High Note

Summer NAMM has taken over Music City

Summer NAMM 2015, the annual summer expo of the National Association of Music Merchants, was in full swing Thursday, as thousands of attendees roamed the Exhibitor’s hall receiving demos and tutorials on the latest and greatest gear the industry was delivering to the public.

Up and coming guitar player Jonathan Brown provided entertainment at the NAMM opening breakfast. PHOTO COURTESY NAMM

Up and coming guitar player Jonathan Brown provided entertainment at the NAMM opening breakfast. PHOTO COURTESY NAMM

Who attends NAMM? Mostly representatives of musical instrument stores from around the country (with an accent on the south, as the larger NAMM is held each January in Anaheim.) Exhibitors come from around the globe, with a seeming bent towards guitars and string based instruments. Hey, it IS Nashville!

Over the next couple of days I hope to spotlight a few of the lesser known companies that have products that interest the most ardent stage performer and give you a glimpse into the gear that might help a band or solo artist find new freedom in their live or recording process.

First, on the event itself, let me say that the handy-dandy NAMM app (available where fine apps are sold) is terrific. To download, search NAMM in your app store and proceed with joy. Once loaded, you receive an overview of all exhibitors, their location and further information, such as website and various social media linkage.

Some of a songwriter's greatest work can come in a quiet moment of inspiration. You think NAMM only offers musical instruments? Think again. Piano version also available.

Some of a songwriter’s greatest work can come in a quiet moment of inspiration. You think NAMM only offers musical instruments? Think again. Piano version also available. PHOTO BY MARC NATHAN

Next, let’s just say you should keep your eyes wide open at all times, because the number of interesting (read: famous) people you might see at any particular kiosk makes for some fun sightseeing. Be it Nashville legend Vince Gill, Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson, veteran Americana performers Webb Wilder and Jonathan McEuen, recent The Voice finalist Tony Lucca or underground pop-hero/producer Fernando Perdomo, there seems to be someone at every turn checking out the gear that will be setting the standard in 2016.

Perdomo, a Miami native who lives in Los Angeles, was splitting his time between checking out the myriad of instruments that he could add to his production arsenal and representing a Miami company called BeatBuddy. Fernando is a multi-instrumentalist, but for the purpose of his demo, he grabbed a guitar and demonstrated the product.

Now drummers beware, you may not want to hear this, but BeatBuddy is a guitar pedal drum machine that is controlled hands-free (use your feet!) With authentic drums that were recorded in the studio loaded onto BeatBuddy, you get your choice of 10 different drum kits, and over 200 rhythmic patterns that give you great flexibility when on stage performing as a solo artist.

When performing as a solo artist, Fernando Perdomo adds the BeatBuddy guitar pedal drum machine to give impeccable rhythm to his catchy pop repertoire. PHOTO COURTESY NAMM

When performing as a solo artist, Fernando Perdomo adds the BeatBuddy guitar pedal drum machine to give impeccable rhythm to his catchy pop repertoire. PHOTO BY MARC NATHAN

Members of Spinal Tap would have loved BeatBuddy as it will not spontaneously combust at crucial moments. Of course, I spoke with Jay, the tech support guru for the company and he assured me that the customer support is top notch in any event. Check out www.mybeatbuddy.com for further information.

I also had engaging conversation with veteran marketing men from reliable companies like Alesis, Tascam, Roland, Fender and Gibson. Mark Frederick has been with Alesis for 27 years. He has seen the company transition through ownership changes, as well as major product line changes; but the logo, the name and the brand still thrive in today’s market place.

Tascam’s Jeff Laity was busy with a multitude of inquiries about their latest digital recording devices as we reminisced about the “old days” when Alesis’ ADAT rivaled Tascam’s DA-88. It’s been about twenty years since those wars took place and the revolution rages on with Tascam offering stunning new 64 track recording devices and consoles.

Tomorrow I will touch on more gear, folks and innovations as I continue to attend and absorb Summer NAMM 2015.