Valley News -

By Gary Johnson and Joanna Pearl
Special to Valley News 

Temecula Valley artists wow crowds at NAMM convention


Last updated 2/8/2019 at 4:31am

Gary Johnson photo

A massive drum circle has been a part of National Association of Music Merchants for decades.

Walking the floor of the Anaheim Convention Center during the National Association of Music Merchants show offers an unique experience for the senses. From the sometimes claustrophobic crowds and the intensity of the event lighting, to the somewhat predictable cacophony generated by a seemingly endless stream of amateur and professional musicians testing and demonstrating everything from guitar amps to drums kits, and saxophones to synthesizers.

Somewhat surprisingly, with over 115,000 attendees and 2,100 exhibitors this, the second largest music trade show on Earth, is not open to the general public. Instead, the international audience is made up of musicians, buyers, sellers and manufacturers of musical equipment. NAMM itself dates back to 1901, when 52 members of the National Piano Manufacturers Association of America formed the National Association of Piano Dealers of America. Their first trade show took place just a year later. How little they could have known it would grow to the leviathan it is today, taking up every one of the Anaheim Convention Center's halls and floors and expanding to include both the Marriott and Hilton hotels.

Any other time of the year, the thought of spending an afternoon or evening standing in a packed hotel lobby where a temporary stage cycles new musicians every hour might seem a place to avoid; however, during NAMM week, Jan. 16-19, these hotels are transformed into the best places to enjoy some of the freshest live music the show has to offer. As in previous years, the Marriott stage saw industry staples such as California rock band Venice play on the same stage as several of the Temecula Valley's own up and coming artists.

Fallbrook guitarist Anthony Cullins was on his fifth visit to the convention. Having played on the Hilton stage with his band in 2017, this year he appeared solo, demonstrating his phenomenal guitar proficiency for Vola Guitars, Lace Pick Ups and Anatomy of Sound guitar picks. When approaching the Vola booth, attendees were greeted with a guitar-laden wall emblazoned with a larger-than-life sized image of "The Fallbrook Kid," ensuring his presence was felt for the entire duration of the show. Always humble, Anthony Cullins said that he was incredibly honored to have secured another new sponsor at this year's show, namely MXL microphones.

Guitarist and singer-songwriter Tim Moyer is no stranger to NAMM, having performed at the invitation of sponsors for more than 20 years, the past decade has seen the Murrieta resident produce his "Tim Moyer Song Round" shows at the Marriott stage, where each year he has been heavily involved in selecting talent.

"I try to get a mix of many different styles of music," he said.

His influence cannot go understated, but of course the artists selected bring their own world-class abilities and in that regard, Moyer is spoiled for choice in the Temecula Valley.

One of his 2019 invitees, Canyon Lake resident and vocalist Makayla Phillips performed for the second year running on the Marriott stage. If her name sounds familiar that may be because she famously earned Heidi Klum's 'golden buzzer' on season 13 of "America's Got Talent." Often likened to Ariana Grande and heralding from an already successful musical family, Makayla Phillips is extremely comfortable in the limelight.

"I absolutely love performing live," she said, adding, "It gives me experiences and opportunities that aren't often presented to others of my age."

Being born blind, autistic and a musical prodigious savant, "music is like air" according to Kodi Lee, who appeared onstage this year with NAMM veteran Salvatore Spinelli and the Midnight Satellites. Their combined performance of Queen's "Somebody to Love," replete with Kodi Lee's faithful reproductions Freddie Mercury's falsetto ad-libs was a NAMM 2019 highlight for all who were lucky enough to be present and suitably earned a standing ovation. Drummer Nick Seiwert has played at the convention five years in a row and opined as to why Temecula is such a hotbed of talent, he said, "I think the absolute love of music within the community helps to create a very positive and encouraging environment for people to play and create."

Courtesy photo

The National Association of Music Merchants takes over the Anaheim Convention Center, Marriott and Hilton hotels, Jan. 16-19, for the annual music trade show.

Shea Givens's third appearance at NAMM also came at the request of Tim Moyer. The Temecula-based singer-songwriter and pianist showcased some of her original material on the Marriott Stage.

"The Temecula Valley is beautiful and relatively peaceful when compared to Los Angeles and San Diego" she said. "I've always seen it as a great middle ground. There's also tons of live music needed throughout the many venues. For me, NAMM's environment and opportunities are hugely exciting. I can't wait for next year."

The 34th annual NAMM Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards presented Peter Frampton with the Les Paul Innovation Award Saturday, Jan. 26. Long-term residents of the Temecula Valley residents may remember Frampton headlining the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival back in 2006.

To learn more about NAMM, visit their Museum of Making Music, conveniently located on Armada Drive in Carlsbad, nestled between the world-famous flower fields and Legoland California.


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