One of the highlights of my recent NAMM trip was seeing the double bill of OHM and Polcat - which both feature Chris Poland on guitar - at Alva's in San Pedro CA on Friday, January 20th. Though I've seen OHM several times, I was particularly interested in this gig as it was my first time seeing the band with drummer David Eagle, who was really great. The band was ferocious as always; super intense from start to finish. Bassist Robert 'Pag' Pagliari also had a fantastic solo spot, and Poland's playing and killer tones seem to get better every time I see him.
Second on the bill was the first-ever live performace by Polcat, which made it a real treat to see. Their debut album should be released soon (you can pre-order and listen to samples here), and I can tell you the material is way-cool. Led by Poland and sax phenom Frank Catalano, Polcat's music is a funky mix of jazz and rock that reminded me at times of the legendary New York fusion band Lost Tribe. I was very curious to see how Poland would fit in with a band like this, and came away with the impression that his input is the 'secret sauce' that gives the group it's unique vibe, or at least contributes greatly to it. Poland's quirky, often 'outside,' harmonic sense lends a distinctive sound to the band that it wouldn't have with any other guitarist. Polcat also features bassist Sean O'Bryan Smith and drummer Jim Gifford - both monster players. I was seriously digging O'Bryan's flanged tone and Gifford's work on such a minimal kit. Can't wait to hear the album. Follow the link below for my photos from this great night.
Gary Husband discusses his new album Dirty and Beautiful Volume 2 coming February 21st from Abstract Logix. Guests include Allan Holdsworth, John McLaughlin, Wayne Krantz, Alex Machacek, Jimmy Herring, Mike Stern, and Robin Trower among others.
Some cool footage of Polcat at Alva's Showroom on 1/20/12. With Chris Poland on guitar, Frank Catalano on sax, Sean O'Bryan Smith on bass, and Jim Gifford on drums. I was in attendance for this show. What a killer band. Look for my photos soon.
Day Three, Saturday, was my final day at NAMM this year. It's also the day I saw what proved to be my favorite gear of the entire show - the Yamaha THR stereo practice amps. Rated at 10watts, the THRs utilize amp-modeling and built-in effects to generate a wide variety of tones that all sound awesome. The two models, the THR5 and THR10, are essentially the same, though the THR10 offers a few more amp models and the ability the save up to 5 user presets. I played through one of the THR10s with a Yamaha SBG, and was blown away by the thick, tube-like tone, and the validity of the built-in effects. Other features include a USB post, and bundled Cubase software for home recording. Plus, they just look cool. Pricing appears to be in the $300-$500 range. I think I need to have one.
Saturday was also loaded with numerous celebrities and monster players. Allan Holdsworth, Joe Satriani, Steve Morse and many other big-name musicians made appearances, causing foot-traffic jams at nearly every turn. I had a great time watching Dean Brown play at the MI booth, Matt Garrison jamming with Hadrian Feraud, Carl Verheyen and Steve Trovato tearing it up at LSL, and several other on-floor performances. I also met one of my fusion heros, violin legend Jerry Goodman (he looks ornery in the picture I took, but he couldn't have been a nicer guy).
Saturday night I was lucky enough to attend the epic Ernie Ball 50th Anniversary party - an amazing way to cap off a great trip (more on this all-star event later). All-in-all, it was another fantastic NAMM show packed with cool gear and incredible players. Look for my full photo gallery soon.
Things seriously picked up on day two of the 2012 Winter NAMM show. More attendees, more celebs, more everything it seemed. Tons of great players made appeances, including Guthrie Govan, Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, and others. On the gear front, I saw lots of interesting stuff, but was particularly taken with the boutique stomp box company Jam Pedals. Based out of Athens Greece, all of their pedals are analog, hand made and hand painted, with some of the most unique designs I've ever seen - no two pedals look exactly alike. And they sound great too; from the demos I heard, the Delay Llama really stood out, as did the Rattler distortion box. Very cool stuff.
New for 2012, the Ibanez AM73B was my favorite guitar of the day. It plays like a dream, and the flat red and tobacco finishes both look great. Plus, this thing is a steal at only $523 retail. Looks like a really cool choice for a not-quite-straight-ahead jazz guitar.
After a long day at the show, I headed to Alva's in San Pedro to see OHM and Polcat. Both sets were fantastic; look for a separate post with pics later. On to day three!