Monday, January 23, 2012

NAMM 2012: Day 1 with more Brian Wilson, Ed Roland, Colbie Caillat

A version of my post originally appeared at 

There was plenty of buzz around the convention center leading up to Brian Wilson’s scheduled performance at the Gibson Guitar room upstairs on Thursday. But fans who waited an hour near the small corner stage for the Beach Boys leader to arrive probably left disappointed. 

Oddly without any introduction from a company spokesperson (especially for someone of his stature), Wilson sat down at a stool besides longtime solo touring band members Jeffrey Foskett (on acoustic guitar) and Darian Sahanaja (on keyboards).

I was hoping we’d hear something from last year’s enjoyable In The Key of Disney album or possibly 2010’s equally solid Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin. No such luck. Instead, they did Beach Boys classics “California Girls” and “God Only Knows,” as actor/frequent Beach Boys touring musician John Stamos watched from the sidelines.

Foskett and Sahanaja provided heavenly backing harmonies to the somewhat shaky songs. Suddenly, Wilson seemed like he couldn’t wait to leave and it was all over in less than 10 minutes. 

photo by Robert Kinsler
Over at the shared Fender/Gretsch Guitar room stage was The Sweet Tea Project (pictured, left) – a new band from Collective Soul frontman Ed Roland.

Sans introduction or explanation, Roland started playing the first of three enticing Sweet Tea tunes on acoustic guitar with bassist brother Dean (from Collective Soul) and percussionist/banjo player Christopher Yates.

Only after being questioned by a fan, did Ed explain that the “organic Americana” group would be touring soon and Collective Soul planned to return to the studio in late spring. After three of the new selections (and no bones thrown to CS enthusiasts), they split almost as fast as Wilson did. 

Earlier on the Fender/Gretsch stage, Canadian electric guitarist Hayley McLean did an impressive set. Highlighted by the Sheryl Crow-ish “That’s How You Know,” the newcomer also did worthy covers of Emmylou Harris’ “Born to Run” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” 

Inside the main trade show area, I saw Colbie Caillat draw a huge mid-afternoon crowd for her acoustic performance at the Shure microphones booth. 

One trend I noticed was people more inclined to use their smartphones to take photos of artist appearances listed at booths or utilizing various NAMM-related apps instead of consulting the print NAMM catalog or brochures. 

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