The world may be falling apart and the Middle East may be on fire and everybody old enough to walk may own a handgun but that couldn't stop the tens of thousands of music consumers, retailers and manufacturers who made the 2016 Winter NAMM Show such a stellar success. Everybody was there to check out the new guitars, amplifiers, pedals, digital gear and drums and simply to watch the famous and near-famous hang out with fans and their respective endorsement companies.
Everybody was there. All the major guitar brands including ESP, Gibson, Fender, Yamaha; all the amp companies including Marshall, Ampeg, MesaBoogie and a plethora of boutique companies; drum makers including Yamaha, Ludwig and DW; and every pedal, digital device, orchestral instrument and piece of software you could dream of.
In an age where everyone with a computer can make music - really good music - it was interesting to see all the new digital software, workstations and keyboards that were available. Sound modeling amps and plug-ins proved to be big attractions. Even builders of pedals were finding new customers for their products. Everybody was looking for their own sound and to that end dozens of smaller companies and the more popular ones presented many new boxes. Dunlop, Electro-Harmonix, Fender, and Boss had some beautiful new pieces while lesser-known organizations such as Walrus Audio, Chase Bliss Audio, Dwarfcraft and others proved they could play in the big leagues.
NAMM has always championed the idea of music as inspirational and educational tool. To that end, there were dozens of seminars and discussions talking about how music indeed changes lives. As well as the regular coterie of rock stars signing autographs, talking with fans and performing live.
Additionally, the highly esteemed TEC Awards inducted Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and Record Plant luminaries Gary Kellgren and Chris Stone into their Hall of Fame. Graham Nash was honored with a Music for Life award from the NAMM committee. And a focus on live music resulted in historic performances by everyone from Dr. John and the Ventures to classic rock artists such as Toto's Bobby Kimball, Three Dog Night's Chuck Negron, the Buckinghams' Dennis Tufano and iconic English blues singer Spencer Davis.
There is nothing else like NAMM and thank goodness in a world filled with madness, it still exists and flourishes.
By Steven Rosen