Since NAMM is the world's largest music trade show on the planet, it's no surprise that the annual event's arrival at the Anaheim Convention Center (Jan. 19-22, 2012 this year) brings with it a wealth of area concert events.
Indeed, beginning with shows this weekend, venues such as The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, House of Blues Anaheim , the Gypsy Den and The Observatory (both in Santa Ana) all have strong bills reflecting a wide-range of genres. So even those musicians and music fans who can't get into NAMM, there is no excuse to sit out in the cold with so many celebrated players in town performing at everybody-welcome showcases.
The Coach House is offering a full slate of shows NAMM week. Bow Wow Wow kicks things off on Saturday night, Jan. 14. The week gets even better from there with the arrival of rocker Pat Travers and Orange County's own Union of Saints on Sunday, Jan. 15. Americana fans can rejoice when singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams performs on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
One of the world's most celebrated rock guitarists, Steve Morse (of Deep Purple fame pictured on the left), will headline at The Coach House on Friday night, Jan. 20. Morse will be performing with his own band in San Juan Capistrano and this is a rare chance to see the amazing guitarist in such an intimate setting.
Jumping ahead to the final day of NAMM, a so-called "Blues Harp Blowout" featuring Mark Hummel, John Mayall, Billy Boy Arnold, Curtis Salgado (former frontman for The Robert Cray Band) and Sugar Ray Norcia (founder of The Bluetones) will share the stage on Jan. 22. Fans of the blues and harmonica won't want to miss this one!
All Coach House shows start at 8 p.m., except the Sunday night events featuring Pat Travers and the "Blues Harp Blowout." Call the venue at 949-496-8930 or visit the venue's Web site for more details.
Those looking to catch a show closer to Anaheim Convention Center are in luck. On the eve of the event comes virtuoso guitarist Eric Johnson (pictured on left), who will be performing at House of Blues in Anaheim on Wednesday, Jan. 18.
I've caught Johnson in previous appearances at the aforementioned Coach House and at the Doheny Blues Fest in Dana Point, and he truly is an amazing guitarist. He is touring in support of his latest album, Up Close, and will be backed by bassist Chris Maresh and drummer Wayne Salzmann. Opening will be acoustic guitarist Andy McKee (who amazed when I saw him open for Dream Theater a few months ago in San Diego).
According to a media release that recently landed in my inbox, "Johnson will be performing on a variety of stellar equipment that he fully endorses, including a newly released “Signature Series” speaker by Eminence and” “Fuzz Face” by Dunlop (distortion pedal) retro'd back to Hendrix model."
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Another recommended show coming to House of Blues is a bill featuring Augustana and Graffiti 6 a day earlier (Tuesday, Jan. 17).
Visit the House of Blues site for more details.
On Friday night, Jan. 20, there will be a Benefit for Sweet Relief show featuring The Fallen Stars at Gypsy Den in Santa Ana. This venue is one of my favorites in O.C., featuring great food and drinks, and a wonderful vibe. The Fallen Stars recently released their latest album, the outstanding Heart Like Mine and concertgoers will definitely hear loads of great material from that disc at the show. Visit The Fallen Stars' official site for more details.
Another area concert venue offering shows throughout NAMM is The Observatory in Santa Ana. That site is located just off Harbor Boulevard a few miles south of the Anaheim Convention Center.