NAMM 2012

Concert ReviewJanuary 23, 2012Music Minded

Although 96,000 people were registered and expected to attend either part or all of The NAMM Show (as it’s commonly referred to these days), it almost seemed like everyone converged on the Anaheim Convention Center at once Saturday.

By 12:30 p.m., the main halls were swarming with people. I saw the Madden Brothers from Good Charlotte posing with a fan on a main floor aisle.

Toward the back section, I happened upon the Sennheiser USA booth’s emerging artists stage, where Hot Topic/Alternative Press magazine fave Blameshift did an appealing acoustic set.

The Long Island, N.Y.-based rock band, led by Jenny Mann, did a few songs from last year’s The Black Rose EP (“Killing Me,” “Ghost”) and a mildly wailing take on Yellowcard’s “Only One.”

At the far end corner of Hall D, the PreSonus stage once again drew a big crowd; this time for a groovin’ jam featuring guitarist Chris LeBlanc, bassist Jerry Henderson and David Haynes (Stanley Jordan). The latter was especially interesting to watch play a small drum machine with his fingers.

Taylor Guitars in El Cajon, Calif. has a reputation for showcasing top-notch artists every year at its spacious second floor NAMM room.

This week's roster was no exception. Friday boasted an amazing set by San Diego’s The Silent Comedy. Saturday had John Rzeznik and NBC talent show "The Voice" winner Javier Colon.

Rzeznik, the Goo Goo Dolls front man (pictured above and directly below), brought along Goos’ touring guitarist Brad Fernquist. Both played acoustically on beautiful Taylor models.

Unfortunately, fans who packed the space only got to witness two tunes. But they were both winners.

First was the yearning, elegantly picked ballad “As I Am” (from 2010’s Something for the Rest of Us) and an enthusiastic version of 2000 hit “Broadway.”

Rzeznik seemed relaxed and bantered with the crowd. Dissatisfied with the tone of his voice at that hour of the day, he marveled about the quality of Taylor products and said, "We're here to listen to guitars, not my voice."

Too bad he couldn't be persuaded to go longer (as many on the Taylor stage roster often do).

Back downstairs, L.A. folk/rock band Dawes finally held court at the Shure booth after a Rob Halford signing lasted for what seemed like an eternity.

Lead vocalist/guitarist Taylor Goldsmith, his brother Griffin and Tay Strathairn (seen below) transfixed those wise enough to pay attention with some heavenly harmonies.

“Time Spent in Los Angeles” and “If I Wanted Someone” – off last year’s excellent Nothing is Wrong (one of my top 10 album picks) - were delicate and enrapturing.

Local musicians spotted:

No Doubt drummer Adrian Young, with his three young children and wife looking to be somewhere quick – likely his signing. Fellow bandmate Tom Dumont was also making an appearance (for Takamine Guitars).

Dramarama bassist Mike Davis hung out in the press room for a bit and told me the band's long awaited new studio album is in the mixing stage and should be out this year.

From the 'never would have guessed' category...

In the main lobby of the convention center, two women in business attire drummed up attention for NAMM Russia in May. Held at Expocenter Krasnaya Presnya, Moscow, the info sheet lists multiple product groups (instruments/accessories, lighting, stage and laser technology, sound equipment, etc.). Registration fee: EUR 220 + VAT (18%).