Peter Frampton Presented with Les Paul Award
By PATRICK O’HEFFERNAN
ANAHEIM – On Saturday at NAMM, the day began when social media influencer and singer BINX and I encountered heavy security at the Media Center. After getting cleared to go in, we saw why: Stevie Wonder was being interviewed by a TV network.
A number of security and PR people watched the room and the interview did nothing to stop the other journalists in the room from videotaping as long as they did not interfere. This was in contrast to the interview on Thursday morning in the Media Center with Ed Sheeran, who was zealously protected by PR people who asked firmly that no one shoot video or photos.
Saturday at NAMM was as crowded as Friday, maybe more so and estimated at more than 100,000 attendees. Highlights included The Roomful of Pianos playing the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” a huge all industry drum circle in the Palm Court outside the technology hall, Yamaha’s All-Star Concert on the Grand Piano among others. We were able to snag the hard rock bands New Year’s Day and Buckcherry for interviews for my Music FridayLive! show.
But first, we had a date at the Hercules DJ and Audio booth in Hall A where BINX was scheduled for a lesson in how to operate a DJ Controller. Since BINX was in her bright yellow and black African Queen Bee costume, she quickly attracted a crowd as the DJ showed her the controls and let her practice. Hercules makes full-sized and compact controllers, all of which feature algorithms that automate many of the functions of a DJ controller to make operation easy and efficient while giving the DJ maximum creativity.
The hard rock/punkish band News Year’s Day was formed in Anaheim in 2005 and released a debut self-titled EP in 2006 and their first full-length album My Dear in 2007. In 2013, they released Victim to Villain followed by Malevolence in 2015, which reached No. 45 on the Billboard 200. They have released the first song from the upcoming Skeletons. The band has been through membership changes over the years and now consists of Ash Costello, Nikki Misery, and Jeremy Valentyne.
Our next interview was with Buckcherry, a rock band was formed in 1995 and have continued their commercial success until the present. They’re preparing to tour to promote their upcoming album Warpaint and had agreed to meet us at the Rapco Horizon complex in Hall A. The company is one of the largest manufacturers of equipment for sound and video in the music industry and is very popular with the companies that producer concerts and the bands that tour in them. Given the company’s reach throughout the music touring world, it was not surprising to see the band members of Foreigner seated at a counter in back center of the booth welcoming a long line of fans and signing autographs.
Stevie D. and Francis Ruiz from Buckcherry walked in and took us upstairs to the second story patio of the booth (the size of a small house) for the interview. They talked about their new album, their upcoming European tour, and the ups and downs of being on the road. Stevie D. also answered questions about how streaming has changed music, making it much more dependent on paid radio play (rare) and touring. “People are willing to spend $5 on a cup of coffee every day but won’t spend $9 on an album,” he said.
After the interview, we went downstairs and found the Foreigner band members hanging out in the first story Green Room. BINX charmed guitarist Bruce Watson to come out and chat, hug and show off his deep blue shades.
After hugs with Watson (BINX got hugs, we got waves) the team spent the afternoon at the music technology booths and the evening sampling the concerts. Top booths were Novation Music’s Launchpad XL wall of the sound and color (which BINX danced on), microphones and headsets at the huge Sennheiser booth to and mixing demonstrations at a dozen booths with big screens and lecturers. One of the most interesting tech stops was Arturia, We listened to the synthesizer sounds of the new low cost Arturia Microfreak keyboard, which will likely show up on a lot of stages as soon as it ships in April because its ability to do a lot musically for very little monetarily.
All the concert venues were at full tilt Saturday night as the hotel restaurants filled up and the lines formed at the food trucks. Going strong were the indoor Marriott and Hilton Stages, and the outdoor Yamaha Plaza and Pioneer Stages. Acts included Venice, Plastic Angels, The Breedloves, iLLism, Chelsea Takami, and The Dares, among others playing until 1 am. The music starts again Sunday at 10 am with Wimberley Bluegrass Band in the Yamaha Grand Plaza Stage.
In the evening, Peter Frampton was presented with the Les Paul Innovation Award during the TEC Awards. With the honor, Frampton joins Jackson Browne, Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Don Was, Slash, Todd Rundgren, Pete Townshend, Steve Vai, and others,who have received the Les Paul Innovation Award since it began in 1991.
Patrick O’Heffernan is the host, Music FridayLive!