Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Under The Radar Roundup: Sound of a Distant Sun, Kailey Nicole, The Smithereens

The first month of 2020 seems like the perfect time to celebrate a handful of under the radar releases more than worthy of high-profile attention.

Artist: Sound of a Distant Sun
Title: Music From The Heart (Independent)
You might like if you enjoy: Solas, Clannad, Altan
Tell me more: A winning blend of traditional Irish and Celtic sounds award listeners of Sound of a Distant Sun's new LP Music From The Heart. Featuring the talents of Matt Tonge (guitar, bass), Georgiana Hennessy (vocals, fiddle, accordion, handpan) and Matt Froehlich (drums, percussion), the 13-track disc was produced and recorded by Bobbo Byrnes (of Fallen Stars fame). The instrumentals thrill (in particular, the traditional reading of "Gray Funnel Line," "The Banner," and an ambitious medley of "Milky Way / Banshee / Molly Bahn / Flaring Pot Reel" that wraps up the album are delightful), and songs – both original and reworked classics  – resonate via affecting performances. The lovely version of Boris Bengin's "Johnny Come Home Tonight" and joyful "Two Sisters," as well as a nuanced reading of the Hennessy and Tonge-penned title track showcase a rich connection with the enduring sounds of the Emerald Isle. Information:

Artist: Kailey Nicole
Title: Kailey Nicole (Kailey Nicole)
You might like if you enjoy: Nikki Lane, Patsy Cline, Whitney Rose, Kacey Musgraves
Tell me more: Armed with an affecting soprano and solid arsenal of original songs, rising Nashville-based songstress Kailey Nicole's self-titled EP is sure to please fans of classic and contemporary country music. The Las Vegas native has an ear for infectious song craft as evidenced by the explosive "Brand New Day," rowdy "Diamonds & Coal" and "Country Love Song," the latter bolstered by an undeniable chorus and the singer's rich vocals. Nicole is also capable of delivering an emotional wallop as evidenced by the tender ballad "Save Me For a Rainy Day." It doesn't hurt her eponymous EP was produced by Niles Thomas (Roxystar), and mastered and engineered by six-time Grammy winner Bonzai Caruso (Madonna, Stephen Marley). Information:

Lost Classic

Artist: The Smithereens
Title: Covers (Sunset Blvd Records)
You might like if you enjoy: The Smithereens, The Beatles, The Who
Tell me more: When singer-songwriter/guitarist Pat DiNizio died in December 2017 it didn't seem likely that the world would be treated to another Smithereens album. However, in May 2018 the beloved hard-rocking power pop troupe issued Covers, a 22-track compilation of artful and arresting covers. The collection (newly available on 180 gram vinyl) includes previously-heard tracks as well as songs that never appeared on any commercially-released vinyl or audio CD set. The range of material spans from early rock 'n' roll (Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders' "The Game of Love," Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs'  "Wooly Bully" and Buddy Holly's "Well...Alright") and Billie Holiday's "Gloomy Sunday" to Brian Wilson's "Girl Don't Tell Me" and a slew of epic Beatles covers. The band tears it up on John Lennon's "White Album" rocker "Yer Blues," and conjure up an equal zest for rediscovery with Bruce Springsteen's "Downbound Train," The Who's "The Seeker" and Ringo Starr's "It Don't Come Easy." DiNizio's distinctive voice is supported by the rest of the Smithereens' stellar lineup (lead guitarist Jim Babjak, drummer Dennis Diken and bassist Mike Mesaros). As Mesaros notes in the rich liner notes: "That intense childlike love of our influences never left us." Information:

Robert Kinsler

Toad the Wet Sprocket kicks off 2020 return at The Coach House

Toad the Wet Sprocket at The Coach House on Jan. 28, 2020.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
Toad the Wet Sprocket, Sean Watkins
Where: The Coach House
When: Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020
Upcoming concerts: Visit for upcoming tour dates, as well as RSVP experiences for all dates

Review by Robert Kinsler

Photography by Bob Steshetz

For 90 wonderful minutes on Tuesday night (Jan. 28, 2020), all seemed well in the world.
Glen Phillips in concert.

Returning to the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA after a break of four years, Toad the Wet Sprocket kicked off their 2020 tour with an outstanding performance in front of an enthusiastic capacity crowd.

Toad the Wet Sprocket was of the great melodic rock troupes of the 1990s. The quartet emerged out of Santa Barbara in 1986 and went on to create a slew of terrific and enduring favorites including "Walk on the Ocean," "All I Want," "Fall Down," "Something's Always Wrong" and many more before calling it quits in 1998.

Fortunately, singer-guitarist Glen Phillips, lead guitarist Todd Nichols, bassist Dean Dinning and drummer Randy Guss began playing together again on a limited basis in 2006 leading up to a full-scale reunion in 2010 and another outstanding full-length masterpiece (New Constellation) in 2013. Although Guss stopped touring with the band a few years ago, the group's appearance in Orange County on Tuesday showcased a great band still at the height of their powers.
Todd Nichols at The Coach House.

Toad the Wet Sprocket opened with "The Moment," one of the potent originals from New Constellation: "There is nothing but the moment," Phillips sang during the song. "Don't waste it on regret."

That luxurious art rock gem was greeted with wild cheers.

"Thank you," Phillips said, adding: "Hello."

And so the night went with the band (Phillips, Nichols, Dinning joined by touring drummer Josh Daubin and an multi-instrumentalist who helped fully bring the songs to life) revisiting beloved songs from across their wonderful discography. 
Dean Dinning in San Juan Capistrano, CA.

Early highlights included the yearning "Crowing," infectious "All I Want," artful "Golden Age" and dynamic "Fly From Heaven." Although the band had not performed in public since last summer, this was a night where the band's greatness was on display with every offering.

The spirited "Rings" was bolstered by Nichols' gleaming guitar lines. Another highlight was "Enough," an ambitious art rocker that started out gently and grew to a satisfying roar and featured some of Phillips' most soaring vocals of the concert.

Further showcasing Toad the Wet Sprocket's broad approach was "I Will Not Take These Things for Granted." Phillips launched into the folk rocker accompanied only by his own acoustic guitar, before the song's arc lifted and the other musicians joined in to complete the track.

From left, Glen Phillips, Dean Dinning, and Josh Daubin at The Coach House.
A really fun segment had Dinning joining Daubin at his kit for a drum solo featuring tandem pounding from the two players in an exciting introduction to a number of the group's most well-known songs. 

Glen Phillips
Indeed, the regular set included exceptional versions of "Crazy Life" (with Nichols on lead vocals), the driving "Fall Down," before the musicians returned to the stage for a terrific one-two punch encore of the "Something's Always Wrong" and a mandolin-adorned "Walk on the Ocean."

Opening the night was singer-songwriter/guitar master Sean Watkins, known for his long-time role as one-third of San Diego's wonderful Nickel Creek.

His set allowed the crowd to hear his joyful and impressive gift of song craft and dazzling fretwork on his acoustic instrument. He was even joined by Phillips for several cuts at the end of his appearance.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

TJR and Robert Kinsler discuss the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

While TJR and Robert Kinsler were at the 2020 NAMM Show last weekend, they took out a few minutes to discuss last week's announcement about the Inductees who will be getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this spring:

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Neil Peart Remembered: TJR and Robert Kinsler discuss legacy of the Rush drummer

Check out the video where TJR and Robert Kinsler discuss the life and legacy of Rush drummer Neil Peart:

2020 NAMM Show Recap

Slash unleashing a fiery lead solo during the
'Gibson: Live at the Grove' event on Jan. 16, 2020.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
From the debut of the latest high-tech music-minded gear to stunning performances on stages large and small, the 2020 NAMM Show delivered a long weekend of bona fide excitement in Anaheim (Jan. 16-19, 2020). NAMM, or National Association of Music Merchants, is a music products, professional audio and technology trade show that fills every conceivable square foot of the Anaheim Convention Center as well as several nearby hotels and concert venues.
Earth, Wind & Fire in concert on Jan. 17, 2020.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

I have been attending the annual Winter NAMM Show since the early 1990s and I can't recall an event as packed with enthusiastic attendees as I experienced this year. Along with some really cool new gear and musical instruments, the range of powerful performances unleashed from a diverse field of artists also helped make this a standout year.

According to NAMM, the 2020 Show welcomed more than 2,000 exhibiting member companies representing 7,000 brands. Of the 115,888 NAMM Member and invited registrants, international members accounted for nearly 20 percent growth over two years.

Every NAMM-goer has a different experience at the annual event. Here are highlights of my journey through this year's show.

Cheap Trick lead guitarist Rick Nielsen performing
at City National Grove of Anaheim on Jan. 16, 2020.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

Media Preview Day (Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020)
A mix of outstanding products and new lines of instruments were displayed in the lobby of the Convention Center. Among the products that caught my eye were:

Yamaha Technical Services Specialist Tony Escueta playing
the Yamaha YC61 Stage Keyboard.
Photo: Robert Kinsler
  • Yamaha's YC61 Stage Keyboard, an organ-focused instrument that combines the organ sounds of the Hammond B-3 popularized by rock bands in the 1960s and '70s with the versatility and real-time control available today. The YC61 utilizes a recently-developed virtual circuitry modeling organ tone generator, which models the character and behavior of vintage electronics at the component level. The state-of-the-art keyboard – which ships to retailers in late May 2020  offers another cool feature; it weighs a mere 16 pounds compared to the 400 pound combination of a Hammond B-3 and Leslie speaker traditionally used. Information:
  • Another impressive sighting was Lekholm Instruments' DM48 Digital Chromatic
    Erik Lekholm shows off his new DM48 Digital
    Chromatic Harmonica at the NAMM Show.
    Photo: Robert Kinsler
    . The unique instrument definitely takes harmonica playing into the 21st century by allowing musicians to play in any and all keys in one instrument, and to use countless expressive capabilities by 
    tapping into a world of software instruments and effects. There are some pretty impressive videos showcasing the instrument and its great sound on Lekholm Instruments' website. The DM48 is available now and can be ordered via the link below. Information:
  • Paoletti Guitars are handmade in Tuscany, Italy, using reclaimed chestnut wood from 130 to 150-year-old wine barrels. Visually, the guitars blend both old and new, and they sound fantastic too! Information:
  • Media Preview Day ended with an invite up to the Gibson booth for a private concert featuring Los Lobos with special guest, superstar Juanes. The eight-song set allowed Los Lobos to showcase their brilliant blend of roots rock, Latin rock and blues-tinged Americana, including sharp versions of the rockabilly-flavored "Don't Worry Baby" and "Evangeline" along with a cover of Santana's "One Como Va." 

Opening Day (Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020)
My 15-hour day began by attending the NAMM Breakfast of Champions, which included singer-songwriter Jason Mraz being honored with the Music for Life Award by NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond. Mraz was honored, in part, for his efforts on behalf of supporting music education in schools. Many more highlights would follow:

A pack of Pistol Picks retails for $12.
Photo: Robert Kinsler

Laurence Juber performing at Seymour Duncan.
Photo: Robert Kinsler
  • Concrete, Washington-based inventor and guitar player John Cunradi brought one of the most simple, but revolutionary ideas to the NAMM Show. "I had a brand new and vague idea in July 2019. I was frustrated as a guitarist; I would start to play and the pick would twist around in my fingers. I thought if I put a handle on it, it wouldn't twist."  Fast forward six months later and here was Cunradi in Anaheim marketing his colorful cutting-edge Pistol Picks, guitar picks that come in several types. They are make of polycarbonate, bend, are durable and easy to use. And they will definitely assist players who can't hold on to their guitar pick. "I'm still a frustrated guitarist, but at least I like my pick!"
  • Seymour Duncan hosted an afternoon set from famed fingerstyle guitar master Laurence Juber, a two-time Grammy winner who rose to fame as lead guitarist of Paul McCartney and Wings but has gone on to carve out a career as studio and session musician, composer and solo artist who attracts enthusiastic audiences whenever he performs. His 30-minute appearance at NAMM found Juber offering up brilliant instrumental versions of works ranging from George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and The Beatles classic "Daytripper" to Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" to Pete Townshend's "Won't Get Fooled Again."
  • My day ended with courtesy of Gibson at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Over the course of three fast-moving hours, a parade of rising artists joined icons such as Slash (Guns N' Roses), Don Felder (The Eagles), Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Elliot Easton (The Cars) and Cheap Trick's Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen for a fantastic concert. Highlights abounded, including a take on Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" featuring emerging singer-guitarist Emily Wolfe, rising artist Celisse performing her soulful original "Get There," Halestorm singer-guitarist Lzzy Hale crushing "I Miss the Misery," and a nice version of Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va" featuring Santana lead vocalist Andy Vargas and Cars lead guitarist Elliot Easton. Other highlights of the night included Slash and Felder joining forces for "Hotel California," Slash, Zander and Nielsen tearing up on the power pop rocker "Big Eyes" and a one-two finale take on ZZ Top's "Tush" and Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," the latter featuring an army of talents on stage together. Information:
Billy F Gibbons, left, with Slash at City National Grove of Anaheim.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

Robin Zander, left, with Slash.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
Elliot Easton, lead guitarist of the Cars,
performing at 'Gibson: Live at the Grove' in
Anaheim on Jan. 16, 2020.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

Day 2 (Friday, Jan. 17, 2020)
My Friday at the NAMM Show included getting the opportunity to meet and chat with several of my musical heroes including Elliot Easton (The Cars), Graham Coxon (Blur) and Geoff Downes (ASIA, Yes, The Buggles and that's not even including several great performances:
Sweet Lizzy Project delivering a fantastic set at the NAMM Show.
Photo: Robert Kinsler

Lisset Diaz of Sweet Lizzy Project.
Photo: Robert Kinsler
Graham Coxon at Softube.
Photo: Robert Kinsler

  • Sweet Lizzy Project is a quintet from Havana, Cuba who absolutely impressed this writer with a standout set on the Pioneer Pro Audio Stage. The band's infectious style of rock is bolstered by the talents of all five members of the group, including lead vocalist and lyricist Lisset Diaz, co-writer and lead guitarist Miguel Comas, keyboardist Wilfredo Gatell, bassist Alejandro Gonzalez and drummer Ángel Luis Millet. Make sure to read writer George A. Paul's review of Sweet Lizzy Project's set via his post on Music Minded linked here.
  • Graham Coxon gave a product demonstration at Softube and answered questions about his recent work scoring episodes for Netflix and possible future projects with Blur. Writer George A. Paul covered Coxon's session and you can get more details here. Information:
  • Geoff Downes demonstrated the power and ease of using his Studiologic Sledge keyboard, and played selections from Yes and The Buggles on the instrument. Information:

  • Geoff Downes at the Studiologic booth.
    Photo: Robert Kinsler
  • The Yamaha All-Star Concert on the Grand was hosted by Sinbad and featured a cast of great players including VerbalaseKenny Loggins and headliners Earth, Wind & Fire
Kenny Loggins rocking at the Yamaha All-Star Concert on the Grand.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

Day 3 (Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020)
I didn't waste my final day at the 2020 NAMM Show:

Guitar great Robby Krieger, left, with Doors sound engineer
Bruce Botnick at the Harman booth on Jan. 18, 2020.
Photo: Robert Kinsler
Harman hosted an intimate session featuring Doors guitarist/songwriter Robby Krieger and sound engineer Bruce Botnick sharing insights into the legendary Los Angeles band's career as part of "Stories Behind the Sessions." I was riveted listening to Krieger discuss and share his guitar work for "L.A. Woman," with Botnick then playing the isolated Jim Morrison vocal tracks too. Incredible stuff. Information:

Brandon "Taz" Niederauer continues to deliver some of the most incredible and arresting performances at NAMM. Only 16, the New York-based electric guitar and his talented band thrilled at D'Angelico Guitars on Saturday. I can't wait for Taz to release an album featuring his stellar guitar playing and solid songs. Information:

Brandon "Taz" Niederauer at the NAMM Show.
Photo: Robert Kinsler

Marcus D Scott leading R&B icons Tower of Power through an
energetic set on the NAMM Grand Plaza Stage on Jan. 18, 2020.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

Tower of Power performed a concert in celebration of the Oakland-spawned troupe's 50th anniversary on the NAMM Grand Plaza Stage. Sponsored by Yamaha, I thought the horn section-anchored R&B band killed it across a two-hour concert that included rousing versions of new tracks as well as classic material (notably "You're Still a Young Man" and "What Is Hip?").  Information:

Robert Kinsler

A special "Thank You" to Bob Steshetz for the use of his amazing photos too!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

2020 NAMM Preview: Brandon "Taz" Niederauer, Laurence Juber, Gibson, iRig...

Although I typically spend at least four full days at the NAMM Show in Anaheim every January, when the marathon show is at an end I always feel I missed something...okay, that I missed a lot! There is truly so much to experience at the event and it is a great opportunity to catchy a myriad of great musicians, new state-of-the-art technology and innovations, and meet up with old (and new) friends! I hope to see many of you there this week! Robert Kinsler

Brandon "Taz" Niederauer performing at NAMM Show in
Anaheim, CA in January 2019. Photo: Bob Steshetz

I received word several weeks ago that one of my favorite young guitarists, Brandon "Taz" Niederauer will be performing a number of times across the weekend. If you haven't yet heard Niederauer yet, be prepared to be floored when you catch him up-close and in-person at NAMM. Get to his showcase sets in advance; he attracts increasingly-larger audiences every year.

Make sure to read my coverage of Niederauer's performance at the show in January 2019 here. Or check out my recap of his performance at NAMM in 2018 here. Oh, did I mention he is only 16?

Fingerstyle guitarist Laurence Juber to perform at NAMM on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020

Laurence Juber is set to perform at the Seymour Duncan at 1:15 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. The GRAMMY® winning artist is a solo performer, recording artist, composer and arranger. His playing fuses folk, jazz, blues, pop and classical styles, creating a multi-faceted performance that belies the use of only one instrument.

A music graduate of London's Goldsmith's College, Juber was featured guitar soloist with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra before becoming established as a studio musician in the mid-1970's. He rose to international fame as lead guitarist in Paul McCartney's Wings, with whom he won a Grammy. He has since established himself as a world-renowned guitar virtuoso and entertainer.

Seymour Duncan is Booth #4344.

Gibson reveals new product line-up ahead of NAMM 2020


Slash and his Gibson Les Paul
Standard in Appetite Burst.
For the past 126 years, Gibson has been synonymous with creating and shaping sound. The new Gibson era celebrates the iconic models of the Gibson Golden Era while leaning into the future with instruments that nurture new players across generationsgenders, and genres of music. In 2019, Gibson emerged as the legitimate leader again by offering new, relevant and award-winning guitars. Combined with a re-energized brand and renewed commitment from all Gibson artists, 2020 is set to take Gibson to the next level as they showcase the new line-up, launch history-making new collections and artist collaborations during Winter NAMM 2020 in Anaheim, CA (January 15-19). 

The Gibson NAMM 2020 experience will feature daily events in the Gibson experience space located on the 3rd Floor in Ballroom A Anaheim Convention Center (daily 11-5pm). The Gibson experience will host artist performances on the main stage and the new acoustic lounge, as well as, musician Q&A’s on industry hot topics and new product debuts from icons to upstarts. Gibson’s NAMM events will begin with a Media and Custom Shop preview event on Wednesday, January 15, an official opening party and concert “Gibson Live at The Grove” will kick-off on Thursday, January 16 at City National Grove Of Anaheim.

At Winter NAMMGibson will showcase new collections and artist collaborations for 2020.

The Gibson Original Collection brings classic design, innovation and authenticity back into the hands of Gibson fans. These include the legendary Les Paul Standard 50’s and 60’s. “Less than one year ago we launched the new Original Collection as a way of going back to the 50’s and 60’s, to pay tribute to our iconic Golden Era bringing those classic designs back into the hands of Gibson fans” says Cesar Gueikian, Chief Merchant Officer of Gibson.

“The Modern Collection reflects a new era of innovation, something Orville Gibson started in 1894 and Ted McCarty fueled in the 50’s and 60’s. It incorporates many contemporary updates that players have embraced, such as lighter-weight bodies, push-pull systems to switch between the Burst Bucker and P90 sounds, innovative slim-taper necks with asymmetrical profiles, shaved heels for effortless access to the highest frets,” adds Cesar.

Slash Collection Les Paul Standard in Anaconda Burst, November Burst, Appetite Burst and Vermillion Burst.
In a history-making move, Gibson will launch the first-ever Slash Collection. It includes four Les Paul and two J-45 influential Gibson guitars Slash has used during his career, inspiring multiple generations of players around the world. The Slash Collection can be seen live on stage with Slash today.

Each Slash Collection Les Paul Standard features a AAA maple top, a solid Mahogany body and Slash’s personal touches including a C-shape neck profile, signature Gibson “SlashBucker” pickups, color coordinated hardware appointments, hand-wired electronics with orange drop capacitors and a vintage style brown hardshell case. Exclusive to the Slash Collection are Slash’s “Scully” signature drawing on the back of the headstock, Slash’s signature on the truss rod cover, a blank truss rod cover in the case, Slash’s new Ernie Ball strings, and four Slash Jim Dunlop Tortex® picks. The Slash Collection Les Paul Standard is available in November Burst, Appetite Burst, Vermillion Burst and Anaconda Burst. “Working with Slash is an honor and to develop his new Gibson Collection was an incredible journey; Slash is a perfectionist and a guitar nerd like me, and his new Collection is a true reflection of him” says Cesar.

"Developing my new Collection with the new Gibson team has been really exciting,” says Slash. “The quality and attention to detail is next level, and these new guitars truly reflect what I play live and in the studio. I think guitarists will be inspired by what we've put together.”

Gibson is expanding the Original Collection with new 70s-style Flying V and Explorer. The iconic ‘70s Flying V has been redesigned with a bound rosewood fingerboard, slim taper neck, and a pair of uncovered ‘70s tribute burstbuckers all hand-wired with orange drop capacitors and available in classic white finish with matching headstock, silver reflector knobs and chrome hardware. The ‘70s Explorer has traveled stages the world over. Now featuring a pair of ‘70s tribute burstbuckers, hand-wired with orange drop capacitors, this new Gibson Explorer begs to be played loud. With its classic white finish, bound rosewood fingerboard, black speed knobs and chrome hardware, it looks as iconic as the generation of music it helped create.

Gibson Original Collection 70s-style Explorer and Flying V.

Gibson is adding to the Modern Collection with a new Les Paul Special Tribute in two configurations of pickups (Humbucker and P-90) at an entry point of $999 and made in USA by the same hands that make the sister Original Collection Les Paul Special TV Yellow guitars.

Gibson Custom Shop Collection 60th Anniversary
1960 Les Paul Standard.
“The Gibson Custom Shop is the pinnacle of craftsmanship, quality and sound excellence. Each instrument celebrates Gibson’s legacy through accuracy, authenticity and attention to detail,” says Cesar. “We recently created the Murphy Lab at the Gibson Custom Shop with Tom Murphy as Master Artisan. Together, we are re-imagining and implementing new ways of delivering the Gibson Custom Shop historic experience to our extended fan base of guitar enthusiasts.” Tom will bring his expertise, authentic style and his passion for building historically accurate guitars to Custom Shop to shape the future of the Murphy Lab and cement his legacy.

2020 will introduce new 60th Anniversary 1960 Les Paul Standards in three versions. Those made in the first third of the year (V1) share the same specs as their 1959 peers, while the middle third (V2) have thinner neck profilesdifferent knobs and brighter colors. The final third (V3) feature even thinner neck profiles. Each version inspires generations of players in different ways, making music history all the while.

The Gibson Custom Shop is launching a new Historic Reissue ES Collection -- with True Historic partsauthentic dimensions and contours scanned from priceless vintage originals.

The Custom Shop will also be showcasing a new and limited run of historic reissues in a rainbow of custom colors. These include iconic models such as 1963 and 1964 Firebird V, 1964 SG Standard, 1965 Non-Reverse Firebird V1967 Mahogany Flying V, all with w/Maestro Vibrola1963 SG Special with Lightning Bar and the modern Les Paul Special Double Cut. The custom colors include Pelham Blue, Candy Blue, Frost Blue, Olive Drab, Classic and Polaris WhiteInverness GreenHeather PolySilver and Gold Mist PolyKerry GreenCardinal Red, Ember Red, Sparkling BurgundyPurple MetallicBlackPink and others.

2020 will also bring multiple, limited-edition artist collaborations including a Trini Lopez Standard as a Core Historic Reissue model and the iconic Tony Iommi “Monkey” SG. “Tony Iommi's iconic riffs, heavy tones and massively-influential albums created the blueprint for Heavy Metal and many other genres to follow,” explains Cesar. “Having the opportunity to work with Tony to recreate his original 1964 SG is the ultimate honor for all of us at Gibson.”

“Recently I was invited to Nashville by Cesar and JC who I must tell you are so enthusiastic and passionate,” explains Tony Iommi. “I had the opportunity to go to the factories, meet the people that work there, and I saw how dedicated they all are. Gibson guitars have lifted a million times, with the new team being totally involved and that’s what’s been missing in Gibson for a long time now. There’s no stopping them, which is great for all of us guitar players,” adds Iommi.

Tony Iommi “Monkey” SG.

Tony Iommi’s career, like the man himself, is universally loved and revered. And while his innovative tuning and playing styles were a major part of his monstrous tones, a Gibson SG named "Monkey" was at the center of it all. This heavily-modified 1964 SG Special was used extensively with the original lineup of Black Sabbath and heard on every album and tour of the 1970s. Thanks to the meticulous reverse-engineering and painstaking attention to detail employed by Gibson Custom Shop50 exact replicas have been created, 25 right-handed and 25 left-handed like the original, each signed and numbered by Tony Iommi himself. No detail was overlooked in the construction and aging, telling the complete story of the “Monkey” from the zero fret to the stop tailpiece bushings to the legendary pickups, which were hand-made in the U.K. by the apprentice of the late John Birch. Each guitar will even include an exclusive replica of Tony's silver cross necklace with a coffin case, a replica of Tony's leather touring guitar strap and a 1960s replica case.

The Gibson Custom Shop is also working with legendary and multi-talented Tool guitarist artist, sculptor, special effects designer, videographer and producer Adam Jones on recreating his original 1979 Les Paul Custom Silverburst that can been seen live on stage with Adam today in support of their world tour and blockbuster new album Fear Inoculum. More details to come on this project later in 2020.

“2020 brings a renewed focus on our acoustic guitars, just like we did with our electric guitar portfolio, applying the same principles of craftmanship. We are recalibrating our acoustic portfolio into Original and Modern Collections and launching an Acoustic Custom Shop with Historic and Modern Collections,” explains Cesar. “Our acoustic guitars have defined sound for 126 years and we intend to leverage that heritage and bring new iconic instruments to the hands of new generations of players.”

Gibson is pleased to announce the newly created Gibson Acoustic Custom Shop based in Bozeman, Montana. “With the Acoustic Custom Shop, we are bringing back all the acoustic icons in their true historic form with the Historic Collection and leaning into the future with our ornamented Modern Collection,” says Cesar. The Acoustic Custom Shop Historic Collection includes a 1942 Banner J-451942 Banner Southern Jumbo1934 Jumbo1936 Advanced Jumbo1939 J-55, 1952 J-1851957 SJ 2001960 HummingbirdPre-war SJ 200 Rosewood and more.

The Acoustic Custom Shop Modern Collection will explore the push and pull between classic designs and modern materials with bodies designed for comfort and modern voice, easy-playing slim-taper necks and a flatter fingerboard radius for enhanced feel. It includes a J-45 Deluxe Rosewood, Songwriter Chroma with Quilted Maple, Hummingbird with Custom Koa and many more

The Acoustic Custom Shop recently launched the most highly customized Country Western in Gibson’s history. Created for Sheryl Crow and based off her own Country Western, the features of this signature model are designed to deliver the sweet voice of our classic Country Western with the added punch created from our 1930's Advanced bracing pattern. The Thermally Aged Sitka spruce top and hide glue provide additional projection and increased expression with a wider dynamic range. 

Artists collaborations at Gibson Acoustics will reach new levels with the new Slash Collection. Each Slash Collection Gibson J-45 Standard features a blend of traditional appointments and modern features including a custom Slash rounded C-neck profile, a fatter and more modern 16'' fingerboard radius and a versatile LR BaggsTM VTC pickup for natural acoustic sound. Exclusive to the Slash Collection are Slash’s “Scully” signature drawing on the back of the headstock, Slash’s signature on the truss rod cover with a blank truss rod cover in the case and four Slash Jim Dunlop Tortex® picks. The Slash Collection J-45 Standard is available in November Burst and Vermillion Burst. 

Gibson Acoustics continues the success of the new G line of acoustics--high-quality, USA-made guitars built by the same hands that make the J-200 and J-45’s with a price point for younger, or newer, “generations” of players. The new Gibson Generation line’s offerings, the G-45 Studio and G-45 Standard, priced at $999 and $1299 respectively, feature solid Sitka spruce tops and walnut back and sides and exquisite finishes. “We are energized by the success of the Gibson Generation G-45 guitars, we can’t make enough of them!” says Cesar.

Slash with his J-45 Standard.

Adding to the new artist collaborations, Gibson worked closely with Frank Hannon guitarist, songwriter and co-founder of the multi-platinum band Tesla, to bring fans a new “Love” Dove in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of “Love Song,” and Kazuyoshi Saito on a signature J-45.

“Teaming up with Gibson to create the timeless Love Dove acoustic guitar has been a joy because of the love that the Gibson team has for music, and the artists who make it,” says Frank Hannon of Tesla. “I recorded many of Tesla’s classic acoustic driven songs with an original 1970s Gibson Dove, and now we have together created the Love Dove acoustic guitar in its glory to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Tesla’s ‘Love Song’.”

By leveraging its iconic past and leaning into the innovative future, Gibson has set the stage for the next era of shaping sound for present and future generations.

For all things Gibson, visit:

About Gibson:
Gibson Brands, the world’s most iconic guitar brand, has shaped the sounds of generations of musicians and music lovers across genres for more than 100 years. Founded in 1894 and headquartered in Nashville, TNGibson Brands has a legacy of world-class craftsmanship, legendary music partnerships and progressive product evolution that is unrivaled among musical instrument companies. The Gibson Brands portfolio includes Gibson, the number one guitar brand, as well as many of the most beloved and recognizable music brands, including Epiphone, Kramer, Steinberger and the Gibson Pro Audio division KRK SystemsGibson is dedicated to quality, innovation and sound excellence so that music lovers for generations to come will continue to experience music shaped by Gibson Brands. Learn more at and follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

IK Multimedia celebrates 10th Anniversary of groundbreaking iRig® brand with over 5 million units sold

The NAMM Show, January 15, 2020 - IK Multimedia is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its original iRig® guitar interface that helped define the "mobile music-making" category and launched an entire family of products. Coinciding with the surging popularity of iPhones and the introduction of Apple's iPad, the first iRig was launched in 2010 along with the iOS version of IK's acclaimed AmpliTube amp and effects tone studio.

The original AmpliTube iRig was a revolutionary, pocket-sized interface that enabled guitar and bass players to connect to their mobile device to practice or record - anytime, anywhere. A massive success, iRig was quickly followed by other products in the interface, keyboard-and-floor-controller, microphone and guitar amp segments, becoming a world-recognized brand for accessible, easy-to-use, music technology and selling more than 5 million units.

IK Multimedia CEO and founder Enrico Iori reflects, "Our goal with the original iRig and companion AmpliTube app was to offer a solution to guitar and bass players who wanted the freedom to write music, play and record outside of the confines of a traditional recording studio, or on a small budget. The rising popularity of the iPhone and apps offered a possible means, but there was no easy and direct way to connect a guitar to take advantage of recording or modeling software. Our solution helped countless of musicians to 'go mobile,' and gave rise to a diverse series of products that make it easy and fun to create high quality recordings using a smartphone or tablet - whether you are a guitarist, vocalist or other type of musician."

Since 2010, musicians worldwide have honed their craft using iRig products. They've been used backstage by legendary musicians like Slash, in the studio by GRAMMY® nominated producers like Steve Lacy, and live on stage with top-selling bands like the Dave Matthews Band.

Today, IK Multimedia continues to lead the way in high-quality mobile audio, with an entire series of professional tools for iPhone, iPad, Android and Mac/PC. The iRig brand now includes over 60 convenient and affordable audio processing, recording and streaming solutions for on-the-go guitarists, vocalists, keyboardists, producers, engineers, content creators and more.

To see the iRig family of products, visit:

See us at the NAMM Show: ACC North Hall, Level 2, Room# 17202