UPDATE: Fly me to U.S.A.!

Interesting experience, NAMM 2007. You wouldn’t even begin to imagine how huge this music trade show was and I, for one, was definitely blown away.

America is a strange place. It seems very familiar due to copious amounts of television, yet at the same time there’s a lot I didn’t know about. It’s hard to tell whether you’re coming or going with the traffic on the other side of the road. I’m sure all of you faithful readers out there that have been to the US, know that it can be a bit disconcerting at times. The food is something else. Unless you were looking for a healthy alternative, everything seemed to be a towering plate full of heart stopping cholesterol. I mean, you see it on TV, but I just couldn’t believe it was true. Burgers the size of a family sized pizza, maple syrup drowning 5 pancakes WITH bacon and eggs and sausages and hash browns (I know it sounds foul, but the Yanks seem to go for it).

This trade show was definitely a progressive experience. The whole place seemed to get bigger the more you walked around. Four levels of some of the latest and greatest musical products on the planet. The Anaheim Convention Center was filled to the brim with amazing sights and sounds. Some of the things that I saw were beyond belief. A piano that can play itself is something we’ve seen in the past 10 years. No big deal, right? Well how about one that plays the piano part from any STANDARD CD or DVD??!! You put the CD or DVD into the player and the piano plays the piano part. I couldn’t believe it. I was watching this Diana Krall DVD and looking at the piano watching the keys rip up and down as Diana played them. Incredible. With amazing things like that, it’s so hard to know where to begin so I think I’ll start with my all time favorite, Hammond

I had read about the new Leslie on the scene, the Leslie 3300. 300 watts of pure power in a nice convenient little package on wheels that is light and easy to move around. It’s been designed with the touring professional in mind, yet would be just as ideal in a home or in the studio. It has horn and bass rotors, as well as a rugged-built cabinet with a high-impact black finish. An 11-pin and 8-pin Leslie socket as well as a ¼” line input jack are provided for easy use with almost any instrument. There’s also a ¼” line output jack suitable to drive a powered sub woofer. Onboard controls for master volume, bass, mid range, treble, horn level and sub woofer level. I saw the Leslie 3300 was hooked up to a B-3, an XK-3 system and a guitar on the Hammond stand at NAMM, which means that it’ll plug into anything! I played through it for about half an hour on the XK-3 system and felt very comfortable about its ability to perform in all genres. It was lovely and brilliant for the theatre style, making the block chords sing. The bottom end sounded very warm when I tried the Jimmy Smith jazz thing. It’s got vacuum tubes that make it growl when you do the rock thing. All in all it is an amazingly versatile Leslie speaker. I had the pure pleasure of seeing Joey DeFrancesco putting this little Leslie through its paces in combination with the New B-3 portable. Those of you who know Joey will know that this guy really knows how to play. He was kicking pedals and left-hand bass, ripping out screaming solos, giant chords with the Leslie on fast and all the drawbars out. He used all the amazing tricks in the book and this Leslie gave him everything he needed every step of the way. It’s nice to know that a true genius of the Hammond organ was well looked after by the latest Leslie. We’ll have them in the store early March, so for all interested parties, give me a call and we’ll make arrangements.

Hammond US had arranged for us to go and see Joey at a jazz bar called Steamers. This place was amazing. It can’t have been much bigger that a tin of tuna and yet there were about 150 people squashed in (approximately 50 people over the maximum capacity). Once Bernie, Craig, Michelle and I arrived, we were escorted through the crowd to a table right at the front and center of the stage to sit with the team from Hammond US. They were doing their best to look after us and I must admit they were doing it very well. The Hammond US team are a bunch of really nice guys. I had a chance to have a chat with Dennis Capiga (Senior Vice President) and found he is one of the friendliest people. Peter Nguyen (Finance Director) and Ray Gerlich (Head Technician) are also extremely wonderful people. Ray has been with the Hammond Company since the ‘60s and has been the leading edge designer for all the Hammond US products ever since. With people like this around, it’s not hard to imagine that Hammond will go to any length to look after their premier artists. They even thought to FED-EX a portable B-3 to the gig for Joey. There was a real sense of family amongst these people and they had no trouble extending the feeling to the Australian part of Hammond.

Hammond US are having great success with the recent release of the XK-1. The young guys seem to be going mad for it over there. There was only one XK-1 on the Hammond stand at NAMM and there was a queue of 18-30 year olds waiting patiently for there chance to have a go. When they did, they were in no hurry to give up their spot. I can understand! It is an amazing addition to the Hammond pro line series. Again, if you would like an opportunity to play this Hammond marvel, please give me a call here at the store or drop by and enjoy it for yourself.

At this point, I have to thank Bernie for the amazing opportunity to meet Joey and hang out with him for the night, (he’s got this amazing bus like a New York apartment on wheels which makes a pleasant change from the band room next door to the toilet!) and in general for the amazing experience of NAMM 2007 (and Disneyland!). I’m sure it’ll take quite a while to forget.                                                                                   Kim K.



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