Monday, January 17, 2011

NAMM 2011 coverage: Thursday

My report originally appeared on and can be viewed on the paper's Soundcheck blog.

Following a media day light on overall events Jan. 12, the NAMM trade show really kicked into gear the next day. Out on the floor of the Anaheim Convention Center, various musicians held court at different instrument booths to promote their gear manufacturers and sign autographs for fans (NAMM is not open to the general public though). One of the largest lines I saw in the afternoon was for Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer, there signing copies of his memoir “Hit Hard” at the Ludwig booth.

The John Lennon Educational Bus launched its 2011 campaign with an appearance at NAMM. The vehicle with a custom-build studio inside travels to high schools and colleges nationwide (not to mention concert tours and festivals like Warped) to promote music in education and assist budding musicians make their first forays into recording.

Outside the ACC on the Wanna Play? stage, Gov. Mike Huckabee made yet another appearance; this time, in support of Lennon bus endeavors and surprisingly compared the lack of music funding in schools today to the animated conveyor belt scene in Pink Floyd’s video for “Another Brick in the Wall, Part. 2.” Former New York Yankees center fielder and smooth jazz guitarist Bernie Williams discussed how attending a performing arts high school in Puerto Rico had an early influence on him.

British pop star Natasha Bedingfield has often mentored students on the Lennon bus. She appeared onstage to perform a joyful – and way too brief – two song set, accompanied by an acoustic guitarist. First up was the upbeat and sassy “Weightless,” off Bedingfield’s solid third album “Strip Me.” Released last month, the collection features a collaboration with hip hop act Kevin Rudolf and co-writes/production by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic. Bedingfield clapped her hands while delivering a soaring vocal and engaged the moderate-sized crowd in some call and response action. Then came her equally sunny, but more straightforward 2004 top 10 pop hit “Unwritten.”

Finally, a presentation was made to John Lennon Songwriting Contest Winner Madison Violet. The female Americana duo from Toronto beat out thousands of contestants in a dozen categories to snag $20,000, plus a stack of recording equipment. They played “The Ransom,” a pleasant acoustic ballad reminiscent of the Indigo Girls.

Bedingfield photo courtesy of the Orange County Register. 

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