On Friday, Jan. 16, I got to see a strong acoustic set by the Bangles and meet the band at the Winter NAMM show in Anaheim.
It's no wonder musicians and music fans love to go to NAMM. Where else can you catch intimate, stand-by-the-stage concert experiences with coutless of the world's best known names and then usually chat with them too?
On top of the experience of seeing so many performances, you get to see and check out the latest instruments and music gear before it goes on sale to the public. Kind of like a kid in the candy store.
I've been attending NAMM since the early 1990s and it is always a highlight. I was there on days 1 and 2 this year (Jan. 15-16, 2009) and was impressed by the performances and gear. On Thursday, I caught a wonderful acoustic set from fingerstyle guitarist Laurence Juber (best known by rock fans for his work with Paul McCartney & Wings) at the Martin Guitar Booth. The highlight for me was his instrumental version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Just beautiful. I had a sit-down interview with the guitarist/composer and that story will run in connection with his performance as part of the Lord of the Strings concert series in March 2009.
I also caught a full-on electric performance from Lee Rocker and his band. Wow, the group was on fire and highlights included the rockers "Gone" and "Lost Highway," as well as an infectious version of the Beatles classic "I'll Cry Instead." Rocker is a wonderful frontman, and has a couple of great sonic weapons in guitarists Buzz Campbell and Brophy Dale. Both played plenty of surefire guitar solos.
On Thursday afternoon, I also got to interview instrumental guitarist Muriel Anderson for a story that will also run in the Orange County Register in a few months. Both she and Laurence Juber are playing as part of the Lord of the Strings concert series. Visit http://www.lordofthestringsconcerts.com/calendar.htm for more information and to see when they will be back here in Orange County.
On Friday, I caught two more wonderful performances. Orange County-based singer-songwriter Kerry Getz performed at the Starbucks inside the Marriott at noon, and she played several new songs that were very strong and won the approval of discerning listeners.
Then in the early afternoon, the Bangles performed a strong set that included semi-acoustic versions of favorites such as "Manic Monday" and "In Your Room." Their power pop-styled harmonies were great and fans crowded around the Daisy Rock booth to catch a glimpse of the group.
Among the many talented members of the Orange County music scene I saw this year: Michael Ubaldini, TJR, Walter Clevenger, James Grey, Kenny Howes, David Koval and Mike Hernandez, who is the drummer in Clevenger's top-notch Dairy Kings.
Among the other legendary performers who attended NAMM but I missed meeting or seeing perform this year were Eric Johnson (I saw the guitarist deliver an incredible full-length set on Wednesday, Jan. 14 at the Coach House), Brian Wilson, Doors guitarist Robby Krieger, CCR singer-guitarist John Fogerty and Los Lobos.