Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Concerts shine at 2015 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim

The talented and genre-be-damned singer-pianist Jamie Callum headlined the
Yahama Entertainment Group's Dealer Concert on Jan. 23, 2015 at NAMM.
Photo: Shalon Goss
Now that I recovered a bit from the 40 or so hours I spent at the 2015 Winter NAMM Show (Jan. 21-25) in Anaheim, I want to look back at some of my favorite concert moments of the event.

Chase Bryant, right, led his three-man band through
a solid set at Taylor Guitars. Photo: Robert Kinsler
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015
While waiting to cover the much-anticipated Peavey Electronics 50th Anniversary Concert at the Hilton, I decided to go check out rising young Nashville-based country artist Chase Bryant at Taylor Guitars. Although I wasn't there to specifically cover the show and didn't take notes, I was immediately impressed by Bryant's confidence as a performer as well as his strong vocals and fluid guitar playing throughout his 35-minute set. From the upbeat opener "Wayfarer Weather" (with its artful segue into Bryan Adams' "Run To You") and equally-infectious follow-up "Little Bit of You" to the tender ballad "Change Your Name" with its a cappella close, the 22-year-old Texas-spawned singer-guitarist is an artist to watch. I am looking forward to catching up on Bryant and listening to his self-titled 2014 Red Bow Records debut soon. Information: You can watch Bryant's performance at Taylor Guitars here.

A number of musicians performed at the aforementioned Peavey event held at the Anaheim Hilton on Thursday night, but my single favorite performance was Blue Öyster Cult's opening set. Although the classic rockers performed a short four-song set, it was high on energy and boasted the band's most beloved rock classics. You can read my full review of the concert event on The Orange County Register site here.

Vintage Trouble, from left, guitarist Nalle Colt, singer Ty Taylor,
drummer Richard Danielson and bassist Rick Barrio Dill at
Taylor Guitars. Photo: Bob Steshetz
Friday, Jan. 23, 2015
Vintage Trouble turned in my favorite single set of the long weekend, and based on the energy of the large audience crowded into Taylor Guitars, no surprise there. The Los Angeles quartet has impressed every time I have caught them live (including at both Coachella in 2013 and Doheny Blues Festival last year).

The band's 36-minute set at NAMM was mostly acoustic, but boasted the energy of just about any other group's electric set. 
"It's Christmas for musicians," singer Ty Taylor said before the set in talking about the thrill of being at NAMM. "Merry Christmas everybody."

Opening with "Lo and Behold," Vintage Trouble's R&B groove was the perfect sonic backdrop for Taylor's Sam Cooke-styled vocals. Even though he armed an acoustic guitar for the opener, master guitarist Nalle Colt unleashed the first of what would be a number of strong solos, this one with a definite blues feel.

Another five involving and energetic tracks followed, with the infectious rock 'n' soul gem "Never Mind" (complete with attendees pumping their hands in the air), James Brown-minded "Strike Your Light" (with all four members positioned at the front of the stage, and Taylor ultimately wading into the crowd) and set-ending rocker "Blues Hand Me Down" thrilling those lucky enough to get into the intimate Taylor Guitars showcase. 

You can watch Vintage Trouble's amazing performance at Taylor Guitars here.

Colbie Caillat performing at the Yamaha Dealer Concert on
Friday night, Jan. 23. Photo: Shalon Goss
My next stop was the annual Yamaha Entertainment Group Dealer Concert being staged at the Hyperion Theater at Disney's California Adventure. The line-up was impressive:

The Piano Guys
Tom Scott
Nathan East
Toto featuring Mr. Talkbox
Colbie Caillat
Bob James
Jonathan Butler
James Blunt
and Jamie Cullum 
It was all hosted by Sinbad

There was a wide range of musical styles showcased at the event, including folk, pop, rock, jazz and more. Highlights included Toto teaming with bassist Nathan East for a celebrative "Africa,"  Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat singing "Bubbly" and then sitting at a piano for an uplifting "Try" (the lead single from her most recent studio album Gypsy Heart).

The highlight of the night came with Jamie Cullum's headlining performance, where he truly mixed up jazz, blue-eyed soul, jazz pop and other styles expertly. A skilled pianist, singer and dynamic showman, his "These Are the Days" and rousing "I Feel Fine" were the perfect way to introduce the British artist to many who undoubtedly were not familiar with him. Those who prefer a traditional approach likely loved his joining forces with smooth jazz pianist Bob James to perform Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things." He ended his set with the swirling "Mixtape,' an indie pop song that morphed magically into a jazz piece in its instrumental section. A fantastic set to be sure. 

Hit Dog Hollar performing on the GoPro Stage at NAMM.
Photo: Robert Kinsler
Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015
I caught two noteworthy performances on Sunday afternoon. Moonville Collective was an eight-member band true to its name, playing thrilling bluegrass-styled Americana on the GoPro Stage for 40 fast-paced minutes. 

Following on the same large outdoor stage was San Diego-based rockers Hit Dog Hollar. The band somehow blended a heavy neo-grunge sound with blues and roots rock via winning rockers such as the Southern rock-styled "Battle of San Pasqual" and banjo-adorned "Barnstormers." The band closed with a Coachella-worthy "Chairman," which included hard rock and nuanced textures along the way.

Robert Kinsler

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