Matt Blackett: NAMM Musings 2011Continued

| January 25, 2011

 So now the show’s over. Quite a past few days. NAMM is exhausting but exhilarating on a good day, and the tail end of the show was a good day—one that allowed me to see some cool gear in a slightly more relaxed atmosphere than the craziness that is Saturday. Some of that cool stuff includes:
Red Witch Seven Sisters Pedals
Ben Fulton has come out with a line of pedals that are no bigger that a Matchbox car and run on lithium ion batteries. You allegedly get “two weeks’ worth of gigs” on a charge, then you charge the pedals overnight with any 9v wall wart, get two more weeks, and so on. When the battery completely dies, after two to three years, a new one costs about $8. The small footprint and the lack of power supplies makes for the neatest, smallest pedalboard I’ve ever seen. Oh yeah, they sound awesome too.
Kemper Profiling Amp
One product that created a huge buzz at the show was this modeling marvel from Kemper. In a lunch-pail-sized enclosure, this thing can take the signal of a miked amp and essentially capture the sonic signature or “profile” of it in about 30 seconds, like a convolution reverb. Once the amp is profiled, you can tweak the gain and EQ like on any amp or model, as well as add effects. The show unit had several profiles of great amps onboard. The demo I saw was very impressive and I’m looking forward to putting this thing through its paces.
Chris Poland at Eminence
Noted Eminence endorsee, OHM: guitarist, and all around fusion badass Chris Poland performed at the speaker manufacturer’s booth and absolutely killed it alongside longtime partner in crime Robby “Pag” Pagliari. Poland’s ungodly tone was there despite the absence of his 20-space rack. He sounded exactly like himself with a collection of stompboxes. For those who haven’t heard him, that means he sounded like a guy with ridiculous chops, amazing bends, and wicked vibrato. Pag worked his fretless 6-string magic in both a supportive and lead role. This jam definitely clogged the aisle.
Caleb Quaye at the Marriott
Ex-Elton John sideman and Brazen endorsee Caleb Quaye played a truly inspired set during the cocktail hour (every hour is cocktail hour). Within the first few bars it was clear that a deep, soulful, R&B trio was digging in. He comped and soloed with a sense of space, dynamics, and sensitivity that was very refreshing. The rhythm section was every bit as good. Definitely the best anti-NAMM set that I saw.

In closing, the best line from the show had to come from Brad Whitford. At a PRS party, I told him and Derek St. Holmes that I had seen Whitford/St. Holmes open for Blue Oyster Cult in Hampton, Va. In 1981. I said that I was so impressed with their set that I bought their album the next day. Whitford smiled and said, “I always wanted to meet the guy who bought the Whitford/St. Holmes record.”

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