By PATRICK O’HEFFERNAN
ANAHEIM – A $2 million dollar guitar strap. A watch that tunes your instruments, a guitar that folds up and yet sounds great. These are a few of products presented to the media at NAMM Press Day.
Most vendors were still setting up in the halls while the press was out in the lobby eating cookies and shooting videos, but a few trends seem to be emerging: More technology, more women and more smartphones as music players and the Swiss Army knives of music and live production.
The first indication of the growth of technology is the addition of a new hall to the Convention Center specifically for technology – amplifiers, mixing board, DJ equipment, pedals – anything with wires, tubes, transistors and now artificial intelligence. The vendors are inviting artists and buyers to get their hands on the toys, like Hercules DJ audio which is offering 15-minute hands-on classes in DJ’ing on their new line of equipment, and Orchestral Tools which rented the Paramount Theater on the Paramount Studios Backlot to give artists and media an opportunity to gets hands-on with their new line of symphonic tools that they will have at NAMM.
The news of the day was that Gibson Guitar is back. After economic difficulties last year forced it to forgo NAMM, the legacy guitar maker is not only back, but populating its booth with women in recognition that 50 percent of all guitars are now purchased by women. Gibson representatives at Press Day displayed a stunningly gorgeous Les Paul Classic and promised many more at their booth when the convention officially opens today.
Girls with guitars – and keyboards and drums and keytars and basses and microphones and DJ tables — are very well represented this year on both the NAMM stages and in the vendor booths demos. Women@NAMM are presenting events like the SWIM Meet (Smart Women In Music) to help networks for women in Music.
The NAMM stages will see Christine Vane, Janice Freeman, Gigi Rich, Sara Elizabeth Charles and Scope, Anna Wang, and Natalie Gelman, among others. And the She Rocks Awards, produced by Women In Music at the House of Blues on Saturday night down the street from NAMM, will feature a lineup of women including guitarist Orianthi, singer Vanessa Amorosi and Emily Armstrong of Dead Sara, the Command Sisters and many others. They’ll be paying special honor Terri Nunn of Berlin.
Other highlights revealed at the Press Day were a performance by the Earth Harp, a building- sized string instrument that will fill the NAMM plaza with ethereal sound, a private concert by Bob Weir for D’Angelico Guitars, and a Roomful of Pianos playing classical music.