Music Friday Blog

  • Kenny Big Daddy interview. He's one of a kind

    BIG_DADDY_WILLIAMS300SQ.jpgIf you click on the video below you will enjoy a conversation with Kenny Big Daddy Williams, blues player, father of a blues player, radio host and owner of Kenny's Music Store in Dana Point CA, know nationwide to artists for its wide selection of top quality instruments and their music training programs. He is a character, in the best sense of the word, and I was so lucky to be able to sit down with him - and his wife and co-store owner, Kimberly - at NAMM where he has been on the top 100 music store list for two years. Enjoy!

     https://youtu.be/lIxMli6CEsk

     

     

  • Rising star Laura Jean Anderson this Friday

    LJA_sofar._300sq.jpgMy head swiveled around a few nights ago when I was watching TV and a Jack in Box ad came on.  I usually mute the sound to commercials, or skip them if they are recorded, but this one caught my eye and my ear.  In the ad was Laura Jean Anderson, featured on a jack In the Box Music Minute ad. I said to myself, "wait a minute - she is on the show this Friday".  I logged on to the studio site and opened up the calendar and sure enough, the face staring out of my PR photo folder was the same one singing to me from the television.  

    I have no idea how she got there, or if she got paid in burgers, but we are going to find out.  Laura Jean Anderson is so talented, so personable and so much fun that interviewing her will be a hoot for me, her and all of you.

    Tune in this Friday for Laura Jean Anderson.  And much on a burger while you listen.

     

     

  • Daisy House joins us Friday with new songs and a great stroy

    Daisy-House-_3-album-cover._300sq.jpgI am so looking forward to talking with the duo Daisy House this Friday.  A father-daughter act - which is not that common - with a daughter came to the party late and then at her father's urging.  It turns out Tatiana - and  her dad- have something very, very special.  If you like the British invasion of the 60's, especially the folk rock bands like Donovan, the Byrds and Fairport Convention, their music will seem like home -- until you notice the details.

    Dad Doug Hammond does his part as songwriter, vocals, guitar, bass and keyboards, drums & string arrangements. Daughter Tatiana Hammond is lead vocals. They’ve self-published three digital albums including the new Western Man. Daisy House incorporate early British and American Folk, Folk-rock, Pop and Psychedelic influences in a music project that is steeped in the style of 60’s folk-rock in general and Fairport Convention in particular. 

    Doug - a career musician -got his daughter involved because,  although she was the only 19 years old, she knew the words to “Some Velvet Morning” and “Blackwaterside” and had a great voice. She had never sung in a band, never recorded and never had any ambition to do so but she was game for the project. The complication was that  she’d just started College on a four-year math scholarship in PA so recording schedules have had to be built around her summer/winter breaks. 

    Despite the distances and the challenges, it worked and we are the winners because we now have the fabulous music of Daisy House and hearing their story is going to be so much fun. 

     

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hq7BW-miu1c

     

  • Maggie Szabo releases "Forgive and Forget", a stunning new single.#certified hit

    Maggie_(2)c.jpgSome time ago I saw Maggie Szabo at an LA music club and was thrilled to hear her signature Tidal Waves and Hurricanes. But then she smiled deviously to the packed house and said she was going to test out a new single on us. That single was Forgive and Forget and I was blown away.  Maggie was reaching for a new level in emotion, musical challenge, and sheer talent.  She has always been very, very good, but Forgive and Forget was a new ball game...I could tell then that if she actually released the song, it would put her on par with the top levels of current female soul-pop singers.  It would be a certifiable hit.

    Well, she released it this week, both in the original, which has a word or two I can't say on my radio show, and in a clean version. And my premonition was right;  Forgive and Forget is a certifiable hit that will propel Maggie into the charts and the really big venues. With Forgive and Forget Maggie Szabo has indeed shown us that she is as good as the best of current female soul-pop singers. 

    Listen to it at http://www.allaboutmaggie.com/

     

    http://www.allaboutmaggie.com/

  • Halo Circus and RoadNation launch a revolution in music tour booking.

    allison_and_matt_at_desk._smile300sq.jpg “The system is broken, that’s why we are doing this.  We have to put the power back in the hands of the fans and the artists,”  says Matthew Hager, double platinum music producer and bass player in Allison Iraheta’s explosive alt rock band, Halo Circus.  He is sitting on one end of a blanket-strewn brocade couch in Halo Circus’ recording studio;  frontwoman Iraheta is perched on the other end, nodding and interjecting her thoughts.

     The “system” is the system for booking bands into small and medium sized venues. Halo Circus, which recently packed Hollywood’s venerable Troubadour in its Say It Loud concert has decided to use the new crowd-sourcing platform RoadNation.com to book its summer tour – unheard of for a band as popular as Halo Circus.  Monday, www.roadnation.com went live at to fans nationwide with Halo Circus’s tour announcement.  Over the next two months nine other bands, including LA’s experimental punk funk band Project N’Fidelikah and  New York’s dream pop songstress, Jennie Vee,  will post pages on the site for fans to crowdsource gigs.

     The RoadNation model is simple: a crowd-sourcing infrastructure for small and medium-sized bands to set up tours and heighten everyone’s experience, especially for smaller bands.  The process is pretty simple: a band designates where they want to tour, a target number of tour stops and a funding goal for each tour stop. Fans determine tour stops by contributing to the city of their choice in the region set by the artist. The city is confirmed on the tour when the funding goal is reached.  

     “This is ideal for Halo Circus,” says Hager with vigorous nods from Iraheta.  “You have to see us live to fully understand us,” he adds,  “We have something special and we want to go directly to fans with it.  Hager emphasis the point: “RoadNation will allow Halo Circus to connect directly with fans – that’s why we are willing to take the risk with a new, untried idea because it fits so well with us and because it puts the power where it belongs, in the hands of the fans and the artists.”

    They are absolutely right about the state of tour booking.  It is getting tougher and tougher for bands and venues of a thousand or less to connect and both make a living outside of stadium shows controlled by a national ticketing agency. Which is why Halo Circus decided to accept Road Nation’s invitation to take a risk by launching their first national headline tour this week with an untried  startup crowd-sourcing company.  If successful, the launch will introduce a new business model into the broken music tour environment and put power back in the hands of fans and artists. Through RoadNation.com’s apps, bands and fans together will determine where they will play and how much concerts will cost

    The relationship between bands and fans actually starts as soon a fan logs on to a band’s site, which provides updates about the campaign, interactions with the artists and apps to share the campaign with friends to get additional support for their city.  Contributions to an artist's campaign can also provide access to exclusive content and tour merchandise as well as the opportunity to  join in unique experiences with the artist while they are on tour.  The venues can be a favorite club, a high school auditorium, even a fan’s house or backyard.

    The funds to the band are guaranteed.  The relationship that begins when fans open a band’s page on the RoadNation site deepens when they decide they where want a band and then put in their credit card.  From there, it grows to setting up dinners, finding the band places to stay, getting songs from the band not available anywhere else.   The RoadNation relationship can’t be duplicated on a computer and given away for free like downloads or streams.

    The site’s founders pre-tested the concept with South Rail, an Americana band unknown outside of  its local Maryland base.  The band used crowd sourcing to book venues on a regional tour and it worked.  They met new fans and played their hearts out to small, very appreciative audiences.  They also made a profit,  which was not one of their objectives but very welcome.  RoadNation has decided to run a larger experiment,  fielding 10 bands over a two month beta period. Halo Circus and Allison Iraheta – chosen from among 1600 bands reviewed -  are the tip of the venture’s spear.  

    Halo Circus and the other bands will shoulder most of the marketing work by reaching out to their fan bases on social media, offering them a chance for an intimate concert and to hang out together. This deepens the bands’ relationship with the fans, even if they don’t set up concerts.  However, Halo Circus and RoadNation  are confident that they will – the startup has serious money riding on it and Halo Circus is betting the success of their summer tour – a big bet for a band on the cusp of going national. 

    RoadNation encourages the bands to set reasonable goals and Hager’s goal for the first tour is to meet fans in all 50 states and break even financially. We will see if Halo Circus meets those goals – I suspect they will exceed it.  Hager is a visionary businessman and philosopher in addition to being a world class producer and stellar musician.  He understands the big picture and has the experience in all aspects of the music industry to spot a winner when he sees one.  Halo Circus is always a winner; I predict that the combination of Halo Circus and RoadNation will not only be a winner, but will transform the music tour business.

     

  • John The Gun: aggressive beat, nuanced lyrics.

    JTG_blue_head_at_mic._300sq.jpgOur mission here is to promote emerging bands of all genres.  I ran across a New Jersey band recently that has its act together and is definitely ready to put it on the road.  John The Gun (yes, we will about that name) is only 3 years old and has been through the usual birthing crises of a new band...but has finally settled on the three people who make it work.

    John the Gun was formed in Nutley NJ in 2013. With a permanent lineup now comprised of long-time friends John Cusumano (guitar/vocals), Corrado Rizzi (drums), and Dan Jernick (bass, backup vocals), the group grew in fits and starts throughout their first year together.

    Then, after some tweaks to their lineup and multiple name changes, the band had a bit of a rebirth when they began writing their first record as three-piece in 2014.  Tread Eternal was released on July 31 of 2015, and encapsulates everything that is JtG.The final trio produces highly sophisticated music - sort of musicians music, but they do it powerfully and with a very commercial kick to it. The band also has a broad range and a deep bench.  they can sound like a 5 or six piece band and they have e a wide range of songs in their book.  This is not a band that gets up and plays the 3 songs it has rehearsed.  So it is the perfect combination: musicians with chops and solid knowledge of what they are doing, plus well thought thru lyrics.

    Having opened for acts such as Alien Ant Farm at Webster Hall and headlining Maxwell’s in Hoboken, the three young musicians are steadily making a name for themselves in the local scene. JtG is a juggernaut of pop and prog. Their live shows are famous in the region and we will be playing cuts from their album.  I think we will be seeing them on the road soon.

  • Evan Taylor Jones rocks us with music and inspiration

    EJT._head_at_mic._300._sq.jpgI love to interview artists with a mission beyond just music.  And I love to interview artists I share a past with, in this case Inglewood CA, the town next to where I grew up and where I first learned to swim.  Although Evan Taylor Jones is now based in Orlando FL, he grew up in Inglewood - decades after I did. He came of age during a period when Inglewood was going through some very tough times.  Those times impacted him.  Raised with two brothers by a single mom who died  of cancer when he was 13, he turned a tragedy into inspiration and succeeded.  That combination pain and joy infuses his music and his work for charity.  Please tune in this Friday at 11:o5 am PT....this promises to be one of Music FridayLive!'s best shows to date.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMxUWsdsHIQ

     

  • Interview with Vanessa Campagna. This star is risin'

    vanessa_smile._compress.jpgVanessa Campagna has sung with symphonies, she has shared the stage with Reba and Blake Shelton and Loretta Lynn, she can and does belt pop and rock with the best of them, she has been on Star Search, she wrote the music for an Oscar winning film, and has herself been the subject of a PBS documentary. And that is only the beginning of the career of a 22-year old woman the press has called a “vocal powerhouse”,  a “precociously gifted entertainer” and a “singer reminiscent of a  young Celine Dion”.  I can attest to every single one of those adjectives – I saw her recently live at an exclusive WorldArts concert and could feel the electricity flowing from her every note and gesture. Music FridayLive! was able to talk to her the next day after she arrived home in Nashville.

    Patrick. You are  back home now. Are you in the midst of a song writing project – I understand that songs do get written in Nashville?

    Vanessa. Yes.  I am actually from Pittsburg Pennsylvania.  I moved to Nashville a year ago when I got a publishing deal right out of high school.  I was flying back and forth for that whole period to write songs so I decided I need to move here and I did.  I love it here. I am writing and recording songs for myself and for other artists.  That is what I am doing here in Tennessee.

    Patrick. How did WorldArts in LA find you.  They only showcase the best talent, so it is an honor.  Do they have spies in Nashville?

    Vanessa. I started working with Desmond Child, who wrote “Livin on a Prayer” and “Living the Vida Loca” for Ricky Martin, and songs for Katie Perry, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Kiss and others.  He  lives here in Nashville and we got introduced through a mutual friends and he said he wanted to work with me and he started picking out shows for me to sing at the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards – the  La Musa Awards --  in Miami. World Arts is a sponsor and I became a WorldArts talent through that show.  WorldArts is amazing- a free platform for musicians to showcase their talent.  I love it.

    Patrick. In the intro I listed some of your accomplishments – classical singer, county western singer/songwriter, big-stage rock pop musician.  Was crossing all those lines – except country and rock which are essentially the same thing now – from singing with symphonies to singing music you can dance to;  was that  difficult or did it just come naturally to you:

    Vanessa. You know, it is not hard for me to cross over.  I have been singing since I was 5 years old and I am 22 now and it is just like singing is my life – my second nature. I started with a country band when I was younger and then I started touring and it was intertwined.  I would sing with a country band on Friday and then on Saturday with the symphony and on Sunday I was singing oldies like Connie Francis and Doris Day.  I love all kinds of music and if I can relate to it, I can put everything I have into it.

     Patrick. You seem to have acquired a bit of a Southern accent when you sing country.  Where did that come from?

    Vanessa. I have always had a little twang in my voice because my dad played country music and I heard it a lot.  But it is has become more prominent since I moved here because everyone around me has a Southern twang.  People hear me and say “oh no, are you are Southern now!”

    Patrick. I can understand them asking that question when I hear you sing country. You were singing classically under the direction of  the late Marvin Hamlisch, a classical composer/conductor/director,  and now you are writing songs in Nashville, so  I can understand your friends surprise at your Southern accent.  Do you ever take out your classical music and sing it?

    Vanessa. I do. I perform a lot with symphonies.  I just did the Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra Christmas Pops concert, so I went home to Pittsburg for that.  I performed on that and I also did a tribute to Marvin Hamlich a couple of years ago. I did a Christmas show too. When I performed at the Latin Music Awards that was with the Miami Orchestra, so I am still very involved in the classical side of things.  Being around that so much growing, up you can really hear it in the music I am making now – big string sections and very cinematic sounds.

    Patrick. It also accounts for the pictures of you in the fabulous gowns in symphony halls.  Now, your song “What’s It Gonna Take?” is great up-to-date modern pop rock, although there is a bit of country if you listen close. did you write it?

    Vanessa. I wrote it with two friends of mine, Derek George and Chuck Jones, both big Nashville songwriters. Both of them have written for some of the greats and I was very honored to write with them – that was the first song that I ever wrote with them and now I write with them regularly.

    Patrick. Something that came through dramatically in your live show is your connection to the audience. You talked with them naturally, directly and personally.  Is that just you, or have you studied stage presence over the years and perfected that?

    Vanessa. I am very comfortable on stage,. If there are only 5 people in the audience I would probably be nervous, but when there are like, 300, I am fine.  I have performed before 20,000 to 30,000 people and it is just natural…I get so excited to be out there that I don’t have any nervousness. It just comes naturally for me.  I have been performing on stage since I was very young and one of the people I worked was Walt Maddox, an original member of the Marcels who recorded many hits like “Blue Moon”.  He always said to me that you can be a great singer, but you need to be an amazing performer. I remember that for every single show that is a huge thing that makes me what I am today as a performer.

     Patrick. Let me ask you about songwriting.  Nashville has a reputation as a songwriting factory - another successful singer/songwriter I know spent a couple of years there and said she learned songwriting in Nashville and music in Los Angeles – that there is a format you learn in Nashville that gives you a template for a certain genre, then you come to LA, forget the template and learn to write all kinds of music.  What do you say to that?

    Vanessa. I think it is different for each artist.  I started writing songs when I was 11, but I thought they probably won’t mean anything because being a singer was first for me – and it still is.  But then I had a showcase in Nashville and some people there loved my songwriting and offered me a publishing deal.  Through that deal I met people who were way, way more seasoned than I was.  I learned the craft much better and since then every single co-write that I have is a new learning experience.  So I have learned a ton about music and also a ton about songwriting. It is different for each artist.

    Patrick. What is the difference between writing songs for yourself and writing for others.

    Vanessa. For me, it is what kind of music I am writing.  If I am going to write a pop song, lyrics are sometimes more simple, diverse, or extreme.  If I am writing for a country artist, I write to fit that genre.  I was part of a  EDM  songwriting camp and I wrote only a chorus and a pre-chorus and a verse.  For country you have to write the whole song and really explain  it.  For pop, the words don’t always have to make sense – they just have to sound cool.

    Patrick. Do you agree that country and rock have become essentially the same thing?

    Vanessa. Yes, and there is even a little hip hop in country now.  I didn’t grow up in the classic country era, so I only know what is happening right now, so morphing it together is kind of easy.

    Patrick. Your song, “How Was I To Know?” strikes a deep chord in any listener’s heart.  The hook is addictive, the sentiment is familiar yet personal, the delivery is stunning.  How did that come about—and how do you describe it in terms of your own development?

    Vanessa. It is funny you ask because that is the only song I did not write, but there is a personal story behind it for me.  That song was written by a good friend of mine about his ex-girlfriend, who was my best friend.  He was so heartbroken he was totally in this place of “I was planning my life with you and you were planning on walking away”.  I remember my best friend saying he played that song for her when they began speaking after the breakup and it was so emotional for her.  I told her I wanted to record it on my album and she said she didn’t want anyone to sing it but me.

    Patrick. That is why it is such a great song.

    Vanessa. It is a very relatable song – everybody can relate to the heartbreak,.  Music is therapy.

    Patrick.  Was success so early good or bad for you?

    Vanessa.  That is a very good question.  I think in my case was good for me.  My parents made sure I had a balanced life.  Early success allowed me to meet many great people and work with them. It was a good thing for me.

    Patrick. Are you bi-lingual?

    Vanessa. I can sing in English and Spanish, but I can’t speak Spanish.

    Patrick.  Vanessa, thank you for talking with us.  Will you be back in LA?

    Vanessa.  I don’t know yet, but when I have a show, I will post it all over my social media and on the WorldArts website.

     

     

     

  • A conversation with bluesman David M'Ore at NAMM 16. Passion, Soul, and Fire


    Guitar pyrotechnics are no longer rare in blues or rock these days.  Most lead guitarists can and do shred hot licks in the middle of blues and rock songs, giving audiences a bit of an electric thrill. But there is a difference between hot and heavy guitar shredding and chops that come from the heart and not just the fingers. One delivers electricity, the other delivers emotion along with the energy.  This is what David M’Ore does;  he delivers 6-string heart and lightening like no one else. His guitar playing and his corrugated voice encapsulate decades of blues, rock, R&B, acid, metal - everything about music that pierces the heart as well as the muscles.  You can dance to M’Ore’s blues, but you can also meditate to them.

    Some call him a mystical guitar man from a bygone era. But this Argentine-born, world-raised virtuoso guitarist and singer/songwriter is in many ways on the cutting edge of the modern blues movement. He has created a blues style with his custom-made Fender Strats  that holds the heart of the blues close, but infuses it with the power and octane of today while losing none of its soul. San Francisco Bay Area residents are fortunate to be able to hear him frequently in local blues and rock venues;  for the rest of us, his third album, Passion, Soul and Fire is now out.

    I was fortunate enough to sit down with David at NAMM 2016, the global music convention held at the Anaheim Convention Center last week to talk about the blues, his history, and his new album.

    Patrick. David, thanks for taking the time, I know you have lot’s to do a while you are here at NAMM

    David. My pleasure.

    Patrick. Where are you from originally?

    David. I born in Argentina.

    Patrick. What brought you to the US?

    David. Music.

    Patrick. Argentina has a lot of very good music.  Why the US for music?

    David  At the time.. this was when the Falkland Islands were invaded by the British – I was very  young and  I heard British music like Deep Purple and American musicians as well like Jimmy Hendrix and B.B. King and I wanted to be there.

    Patrick.  And now you play blues.

    David.  Yes. Now I play blues and rock…I am more inclined to blues than rock.

    Patrick. Do you combine any Latin music influence with blues.

    David. No, not at all, but it is a part of me.  Flamenco music skills are there, but I don’t consider flamenco  Latin music;  it is from Spain…that is different.  I think you can hear flamenco skills in my music.  Stuff  like salsa and cumbia, no – I hate it.

    Patrick. Describe your blues

    David. High energy blues.  It is more important what people feel about it.  People call it high octane.

    Patrick. You have been playing blues for a long time – you received your first guitar when you were  eight years old.  Have you seen many changes in blues over the years?

    David. Yes in different areas, and in the business also.   As music, no – blues is blues.  It is sometimes a (different) sound is from different eras, and British blues sounds different from American blues and the European players sound different.  As far as the music business – changed totally, especially with the internet.

    Patrick. There are many different kinds of blues.

    David. Yes, but what is important is how the blues has grown because of access.  Anywhere in the world people can hear the blues.  I used to have to walk 20 blocks to get a blues record at a record store, now you just go to YouTube and it is there. Blues grows worldwide.

    Patrick. You have a new album out, Passion, Soul, and Fire.  How many albums have you put out?

    David. This is my third album.  Professionally, is my really my second, because the first was done with such a small budget and it was a very innocent album.  This is my favorite.

    Patrick.  You were in a band a long time ago too, weren’t you?

    David.  I was afraid you would ask that question…yes I was.

    Patrick. So you prefer being on your own now, or do you have a band?

    David. I have the David M’Ore band.  And of course I switch  musicians. The band members (depend) on the budget and where I am playing makes a difference, like when I play in South America, some guys don’t want to go to play five shows or what the number is.  And sometimes I meet musicians on Skype and I hire them when I arrive.  I show them the songs on Skype so they know them, we practice for an hour and a half when I arrive and I can play very well with people I have never met before.  What is very important is the drummer…in San Francisco I am fortunate to have a drummer,  one of my favorite drummers, Wade Olson.  Blues drumming is different – most blues drummers struggle with rock and vice versa, but there are a few that have that skill (to play both well). Wade Olson has it.

    Patrick. I know you like Muddy Waters, do you also like contemporary bands?  And who would you like to open for?

    David.  Of course,  I am not afraid to explore new things. I admire anybody who works hard and is honest.  I would love to open for Deep Purple.   

    Patrick. Do audiences around the world react differently to you?

    David. Yes.  They react differently to everyone.  A Japanese audience -- they are very respectful.  I remember the first tour in South America, where I was born, but had never played there.  We played the first song and they were very quiet and I thought “maybe they don’t like us” but when we finished, they exploded.  It was a beautiful thing because they paid attention to how you play;  they are not there for dance only.  They listen to how you play.  Here in San Francisco too, when I play at Biscuits and Blues (a famous San Francisco blues club) they listen.  

    Patrick. Where can people find your music?

    David.  You can find it in many different places.  My website, www.davidmore.net and on CD Baby.

    Patrick. Thank you, David.

    David. My pleasure.

     

     

     

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnoWz0zYrdg

      

     

     

  • Day 2 at NAMM 2016

    Day 2 at NAMM 2016. Crowds, celebrities and a resurgence of acoustic instruments…plus even more technology.

     dr._john_guitar_frontal.300X.jpgThe crowds at NAMM 2016 hit a new peak on Day 2 as late arrivals, global visitors and Dr. John fans streamed in, stretching everything from rest rooms to restaurants to their limit.  But, despite the lines to get in, the lines to out, the lines to get food and the lines to get your album/hand/book/program signed by your favorite artist or musical inventor, you could not find a happier crowd.

    Part of the happiness was the sheer number of  “toys” for everyone in the music industry.  With over 1000 manufacturers of fretted instruments and accessories, there were walls of electric and acoustic guitars and ukuleles  as well as custom guitars from companies like Grace Harbor, D’Angelico and Roland. Of course he giants like Fender, Gibson, Ibanez had plush (and loud) showcase halls and there were many global entrants like Koch Guitar Electronics from Holland, KZ Guitar Works from Japan and Ortega Guitars from Germany.  Guitarists thronged the booths and stood in line to test drive the latest offerings and their idols perform on the many stages in the guitar showcases.

    Technologies offered included the expected smaller and more powerful electronics for guitars, ukuleles, violins, basses and new power supplies to drive them and sleek pedal boxes and platforms to hold them.  New offerings included the iRig to link guitars to phone-based recording apps than can post your music or save it for further work.  Stratocaster debuted a guitar that links directly to your iPhone and turns it into a recording studio and broadcast app using programming in the phone.

    Aerodrums virtual reality drums also were a big hit with people lining up to put on the headgear and try them out. Taylor Guitar’s TaylorSense app which monitors a guitar’s health – damage from impacts or moisture and need for tuning, plus doubles as a recorder for overdubs was very popular.  The hit technology of the show, at least to me, was  the QRS PianoArc 360 degree round piano demonstrated by Brockett Parsons from Lady Gaga’s band, who helped design it. Not only did keyboard artists like Doña Oxford say it felt “natural”, it allowed two or three people to play together effortlessly.

    Celebrities were not hard to find, including electric keyboard developer Ray Kursweil and one of his endorsers Stevie Wonder, Waddy Wachtel of the Stevie Nicks band, Dr. John holding court in the John Lennon Peace Bus, Mona Tavakoli and Chaska Potter of Raining Jane, R&B legend George “Spanky” McCurdy  and producer Dre Harris among many others. The music spaces were in full swing, with dozens of choices available on stages at Gibson, Fender, Kurzweil, D’Angelico Guitars, Roland and many, many others. As you walked (actually, more like slowly navigated) through the cavernous display halls, sounds of dozens of performances echoed and every few feet there was a crowd listening to a performer or lining up for autographs.  Many of the NAMM performances on the Nissan and hotel stages were live streamed for those who could not get through the crowds (or get to NAMM).

    The NAMM Show closed at 6 pm and the action shifted outside to the Nissan Stage where Dr. John played in celebration of the work of the John Lennon Peace Bus and for the NAMM Foundation’ fund raising for music education.  Dr. John was on fire, introduced by top-hatted trombone player and music director Sarah Morrow, he gave the packed crowded all his energy with songs from throughout his history.

     As Dr. John was winding down outside, the She Rocks Awards were cranking up inside the Hilton’s cavernous Pacific Ballroom. The sold-out show, which included dinner – especially welcome by fans getting tired of $19 hotel hamburgers and long waits for food trucks – was produced  by the Women’s International Music Network and co-hosted by all-star guitarist Nita Strauss who kicked off the program with a kick-ass display of her chops. Those honored included Jennifer Batten, Amy Heidemann of Karmin, Chaka Khan, Leslie Ann Jones of Skywalker Sound, Mindy Abovitz of Tom Tom Magazine, Mona Tavakoli & Becky Gebhardt of the Rock Camp For Girls L.A. and Raining Jane, Chalise Zolezzi of Taylor Guitars, Cathy Carter Duncan of Seymour Duncan, Crystal Morris of Gator Cases, Pamela Cole & Leigh Maples of Fanny’s House of Music, Mary Luehrsen of NAMM/the NAMM Foundation, and Sujata Murthy of Universal Music Enterprises.

    The parties continued until well past midnight, with the All Industry Drum Circle in the outdoor Palm Court and performances by Coleslaw, the Josh Logan Band, Vinnie and the Hooligans, Hot for Teacher and Jeff Campbell on the hotel stages.  The lobbies were so packed that it was standing room only with  people spilling out into the Grand Plaza or jamming in rooms and suites.  Of course everyone will be up bright and early Saturday for the Grand Rally for Music Education  Saturday morning.