Monday, January 28, 2013

NAMM 2013: Day 3 coverage

My roundup originally appeared at

by Bob Steshetz
The NAMM Show is always dominated by hard rock and metal musicians who do autograph signings and help unveil their latest signature guitars, basses and drums. Most of the big name musicians turn out on the heavily trafficked Saturday.

Eddie Van Halen made an unannounced appearance to tout his new “stripe” series electric guitars at the EVH booth. I had no knowledge of its existence until much later and never saw the location despite traversing the main floor several times over three days (there are so many cool things going on during NAMM, that you can easily miss them).

Gene Simmons of KISS donated one of his trademark hatchet basses to the Museum of Making Music, which is affiliated with NAMM. Several Simmons models were on display at the Cort USA booth. I spotted two females decked out in all leather mini-skirts, knee-high boots with the band logo and tank tops nearby. They were obviously members of the KISS Army.

Upstairs, it almost seemed like a quarter of all attendees here were waiting in line for autographs from OC’s own Avenged Sevenfold and Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx at the Schecter Guitar Research room. The scene was truly chaotic there.

Surprises lurk around every corner on the trade show floor. My first one arrived at the Cordoba Music Group booth, where a flamenco guitarist and female dancer from the group Heavy Mellow previewed their afternoon Marriott performance.

Wails and thumps of various instrument demos by professional musicians (and others just trying them out) also blare from aisle to aisle. Danish hard rock guitarist Soren Andersen - who has played with Glenn Hughes Band and others – described and demonstrated foot pedals manufactured by TC Electronic and actually made them interesting for non-gearheads.

Raining Jane (pictured above) came across like a breath of fresh air at the Sennheiser booth. The female adult alternative band from LA has four indie albums, a Jason Mraz co-write that appeared on his “We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things” album, other tunes on prominent TV shows and a tour opening stint with Sara Bareilles to their credit.

At NAMM, they drew a good-sized crowd for the 15-minute performance (a longer one commenced later in that afternoon in the Taylor Guitar room). The upbeat, sprightly “Oh Song” boasted strong harmonies and recalled Throwing Muses, while the more contemplative ballad “Storming” also sounded strong.

The soulful “Opposite of Blue,” colored by sweet cello work, showed some grit from vocalist/guitarist Chaska Potter. Raining Jane announced that they were starting an Orange County chapter of their LA non-profit, Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls. Definitely the day’s highlight for me.

by George A. Paul
A slice of Appalachia came in the form of Recording King’s large, impressive booth. A shiny silver tricone resonator guitar immediately caught my eye, alongside some sharp brown ukuleles and banjos.

Guitars signed by Justin Townes Earle and Christian Letts of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros hung in the booth windows.

While passing the DPA Microphones, Inc. booth, I was immediately drawn to the ethereal folk/pop music of Shel.

The group of four sisters from Colorado (pictured below) recently had a  music video shown on During songs from their current self-titled CD, they utilized mandolin, violin and keyboards which beautifully accentuated the cascading vocals.

by George A. Paul
Racing over to the Cleartone Strings booth to check out Phil Everly's signing (his second consecutive appearance at NAMM and one of the few legends from the early rock 'n' roll era here), I was startled by a worker from an adjacent booth, who yelled "Is everybody ready?" and tossed out t-shirts. Turns out a member of Anthrax was signing there. 

I spotted power pop singer/guitarist Matthew Sweet trying out the wares at the Fano Guitars booth. Other times, I witnessed Asia/Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes and longtime KROQ/106.7 FM Los Angeles and now Sirius XM deejay Richard Blade surveying all the activity.  

PreSonus Audio Electronics has a prime corner spot right near one of the trade show floor’s entrance doors. As I passed by, Chris LeBlanc and John Mills laid down a funky groove on a cover of Al Green’s “Love and Happiness.” 

Taylor Guitars always lines up an eclectic slate of musicians to perform in its spacious room. At this year's NAMM, besides the previously mention Pat Simmons and Raining Jane, they also hosted Phil Brown, Yuna, The Farm, Allen Stone and Japanese rock/hip-hop guitarist Miyavi. After hearing some people rave about the latter artist, I'm sorry I missed it.      

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