Music Learning Systems - Guitar, Piano, and Drums


Sabian Live at NAMM 2009

by Omar on January 17, 2009

in Event Review

This is Omar Alvarado reporting live from Anaheim, CA, site of Sabian Live at NAMM 2009…

Ok, I actually wasn’t there, but I did watch it live! Yes, DrumChannel.com was at it again, streaming their second live event (their first was the Buddy Rich Memorial Concert (BRMC) held last October, of which you can read my reviews of the show; just click on the Articles link at the top of this page). The Paradiddler made sure he saw the show, so as to report back to you all. If Sabian, my cymbal manufacturer of choice, is gonna put on a show, you know I want to see, and tell you all about it!

When I first saw the ad for the event on DrumChannel.com, I noted it said from 7pm-12am, including pre-show and performances. What I didn’t notice until later was that those times were West Coast! And since I’m on the East Coast, well, let’s just say this was going to be a long night. So for the benefit of those who missed the show for whatever reason (i.e., sleep), I’ll try to sum up, or maybe even a little more than sum up, the events at Sabian Live.

For those of you not in the know, “the NAMM Show is considered the largest music products trade show in the world, its only major competition being the Musik Messe in Frankfurt. It is held every January in Anaheim, California, USA at the Anaheim Convention Center. The January 2008 show had 1,560 exhibitors and a record-breaking 88,100 attendees. The NAMM Show is not open to the general public, only to members of the music trade. The acronym NAMM originally stood for the National Association of Music Merchants, but has evolved from a national entity representing the interests of music products retailers to an international association including both commercial, retail members and affiliates. Therefore, the long form of the name is no longer used, and it is simply known as NAMM, the International Music Products Association.” (quote from Wikipedia).

The performers that were scheduled for this event were:

  • Richie ‘Gajate’ García with Oscar Cartaya’s Enclave featuring:
    • Walter Rodríguez
    • Tal Bergman
    • Joey DeLeón
  • Jojo Mayer with Nerve
  • Jimmy DeGrasso with F5

The pre-show started at 7pm, and the performances lasted from 8pm to about 12am. Similarly as before, DrumChannel.com had their four camera angles for the event, with a fifth camera for the backstage show. The angles were:

1 - Concert: the main edit

2 - Covershot: front wide shot of the stage

3 - Overhead: overhead view of the drums

4 - Footcam: shot of drummer’s feet

5 - Backstage: DrumChannel interviews with artists

During the show, I found that cameras three and four had better sound than cameras one and two. I really had no use for camera two, since this was just a panoramic-type view from afar (too far). You had a good view of the drummer’s feet (the camera was on the drummer’s right side), but I wished the camera was angled a little better to catch the action of the left foot as well. Maybe this was the best angle attainable, though. The main edit cameras captured the show exceptionally well, however. It might have even been a better job than the Buddy Rich Memorial Concert main edit. But that might have been due to the accessibility to the performers in this setting. All in all, the camera work was very good.

The Pre-Show

The pre-show, as before, consisted of Don Lombardi yapping it up with fellow drummers, whether they were participating in the show or just spectators. He had a couple of helpers this time. One was Johnny ‘Vatos’ Hernández of Oingo Boingo fame, and Don Famularo, the master of ceremonies for the show. These were talking on and off with various artists that came and went, and they were also taking questions from viewers via the chat feature of DC’s web site. Percussionist extraordinaire Walfredo Reyes and his son Danny Reyes were one of the first guests.

Walfredo talked a little about his coming to New York from Cuba, and his desire to incorporate percussion (congas and such) with the drum set.

Danny talked about what dinner was like in the Reyes household. On one hand you’d have Mom saying ‘Eat your dinner!’, while on the other you’d have Dad saying, “Practice your rudiments!” And this went on for years! Walfredo also said that learning piano and keyboards is a good foundation, a great aid for gaining musical knowledge that can be transferred to other instruments, such as percussion and the drum kit. I never thought of it that way, but that’s very true!

Danny strongly recommended learning as many aspects of drums and percussion as possible. The more you expand in this area, the more possibilities are available to you. Learn different genres and styles, and also educate yourself on the business side of music, if your goal is to make a living from it.

Next in was Bob Zildjian, head of Sabian! He spoke some about the history of the Zildjian family moving from Western Armenia (now Turkey) to the States and what not, but what really interested me was his explanation of how they came to the “Sabian”: it is comprised of the first two letters of his childrens’ names: Sally, Billy, and Andy. Sabian! I thought that was clever.

Richie García came in with Chad Wackerman, and briefly mentioned their collaboration on a project. Chad went on to explain that, to be a musical drummer, you have to learn to play well with the other musicians, and you must learn how to control your volume. A drummer has a mostly unrecognized power in a band, and he should use that power wisely.

Others came and went, including Nick Rich, who talked about his participation in the BRMC. He said he only practiced the previous weekend to said event, but he played phenomenally!

I would like to suggest that for the next live show, for the backstage interviews the name of the artist appears for a bit when the camera’s on them. Don’t always know the faces!

Richie ‘Gajate’ García with Oscar Cartaya’s Enclave


At about 8pm, I switched over to the show cameras for Richie García’s performance. Richie’s a great percussionist, playing the timbales in Oscar Cartaya’s band. They played a few songs (very percussive, heavy dose of Latin influence, of course!) which featured three different drummers/percussionists: Walter Rodríguez, Tal Bergman, and Joey DeLeón. All performed very well, but I particularly liked Tal Bergman’s little solo before one of the songs he performed. It was so smooth and effortless, and the way he alternated between the hi-hat and snare at a very high speed was most impressive.

Now for the last song, Oscar wanted to liven up the crowd a bit, so he called to the floor a Latin dancer named Lisa. Let’s just say that it got, well, muy caliente.

After Enclave finished, I went back to the backstage camera. Interviews had been going on throughout the entire show till the end, so you had to make a choice: watch the band, or watch the interviews. I tried as much as possible to watch the music, because I always want to see if I can learn something new. Among the guests there was Joey Heredia, who made a very interesting point. He said that even if you don’t use all the rudiments in your playing, just knowing them gives you the confidence that you know what you’re doing, and you can plug them in whenever you need them. That’s good advice, because the rudiments are, as we know, the foundation, the vocabulary, for drummers.

Jojo Mayer with Nerve


I wish the backstage folks would say when the performance started! Nerve had already begun, but I actually didn’t miss much. Let me tell you, I was very impressed with Jojo. I hadn’t seen him play before, but I won’ forget it. He played with such intricacy. He had so much going on that, not only did he hit all the notes, but it seemed like he filled the spaces between the notes. All the notes seemingly had ‘ghosts’, drums and cymbals included. It seemed like his motto is “just keep moving,” because it seemed like that’s all he did. He was so busy and fast, but it seemed effortless as well. The musical bar is his playground, and he plays all over the place.

I did find the songs somewhat “spacey” (as in outer space), so I started drifting to the backstage camera just to see who was on. Low and behold, it was Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater! I was glued.

He was asked about his influences, which he’s spoken of a lot previously. Drummers like Ringo Starr, John Bonham, Keith Moon, Neil Peart, and from an overall musical perspective, Frank Zappa.

So Mike was asked one final question, a parting question. ‘What would be the best advice you could give to all the drummers and musicians out there watching online and in the audience here?’ And right when he was about to speak, the audio dropped! I scrambled and went to another camera and back to the backstage camera, but it was too late. He said what he was going to say. Hopefully DrumChannel can replay that interview somehow, because I want to know what he said!

Jimmy DeGrasso with F5


Last on the bill was Jimmy Degrasso with F5. This was a performance in the metal genre. Jimmy’s performance was very ‘linear’, with lots of double-bass fills typical of metal. Not that it was a bad performance by any means. Jimmy was spot on. I believe F5 had the longest set list, and the crowd seemed to be into it.

I switched over to the backstage camera again to see what was going on there. There was a lot going on back there the whole time, and I know I missed a lot of interviews, but hey, I chose the music! Todd Sucherman of Styx was there, and he said “Fooling Yourself” is his favorite Styx song because of all the time changes it has – makes for a very interesting performance. Also, he had some advice for drummers out there: put your whole heart into your playing, and be involved in the Arts – any art, be it painting, guitar, what have you.

After a bit Jojo Mayer joins in, and I have to tell you, I didn’t understand 90% of what the guy was saying! He was rambling about movements in music from jazz, to rock, to hip-hop, on and on – it was crazy! It was entertaining though. It might have been his accent. The more he spoke, the more excited he got about his topic and started loosening up, and the less I understood his point! But mainly, I did get that he likes to try new genres and incorporate that into his playing.

And finally Jim DeGrasso comes in after his performance with F5. He said something very interesting that will stick with me. He said that he would rather play 2/4 with no fills on a great song, than play a bunch of cool fills in a lousy song. I agree totally with that!

And that was the show! I did like the BRMC show better than this one, but this one was very good nonetheless, with some great performances that would be much better to see than to have me try to describe them. Hopefully DrumChannel will make some or all the show available for those who missed it.

Interviews were a big part of this presentation (they never stopped). From all the interviews conducted, there was a similar theme throughout that all the artists seemed to be in agreement on. One, learn to listen. If you train yourself to have a critical ear, that will enable you to discern what the drummers are doing, and you will more likely be able to incorporate that in your playing. And two, learn as many genres as possible. This will make you a more complete (and in demand) drummer.

As for me, well, I hope to repeat the line opened this article with, except hopefully I’ll actually be there!

During the show, there were many interesting tidbits that were presented for each artist, so for those that were not there (physically or online), I’ll list some of them here. Enjoy – till the next NAMM!


Richie García


  • Has played with Sting, Diana Ross, Don Henley, Phil Collins, Tito Puente, Amy Grant, and more
  • Recorded soundtracks for The Italian Job, I-Spy, Maid in Manhattan, and The Mummy Returns
  • Modern Drummer’s 2004 Best Hand Percussionist

Oscar Cartaya


  • Has played with Herb Alpert, Jennifer López, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Robbie Robertson, and more

Walter Rodríguez


  • Plays with Yanni and is endorsed by Gon Bops

Tal Bergman


  • Has toured and recorded with Herb Alpert, Billy Idol, Joe Zawinul, Simple Minds, LL Cool J, Rod Stewart, and Chaka Chan
  • Associate producer and drummer on the Grammy nominated platinum album It Had To Be You… The Great American Songbook by Rod Stewart

Joey DeLeón


  • Been playing drums since he was three years old
  • Has played with Queen Latifah, The Banda Bros, Lucky 7, Tito Puente, Al Jerreau, Cindy Lauper, Luckman Jazz Orchestra, Joey DeFrancesco, Juan Gabriel, Alex Acuña, Giovanni Hidalgo, Pancho Sánchez, Joan Sebastián, Al McKay (Earth, Wind and Fire), Ricky Martin, Jazz on the Latin side All Stars, Strunz and Farah, and many more

Jojo Mayer


  • Mostly self-taught, although he had two informal lessons with Jim Chapin on Moeller Technique, one lesson with Freddie Gruber on balance and projection, and one from Ed Thingpen on basic brush stroke technique
  • Won the #1 spot on Modern Drummer’s Reader poll for Best Educational DVD in 2008

Jimmy DeGrasso


  • Previous to F5, Jimmy and bassist David Ellefson played in Megadeth; Degrasso performed on 10 Megadeth albums starting in 1999
  • Has played with Lita Ford, Ozzy Osbourne, White Lion, Suicidal Tendencies, Y&T, Stone Sour and Alice Cooper

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

shannon alvarado February 1, 2009 at 10:47 pm

I think you are awesome! Keep up the good work and follow your dreams 🙂
I am VERY proud of you 🙂

Reply

Omar February 2, 2009 at 11:22 am

I just love a fan! Thanks very much – I’ll keep going!

Reply

mass January 18, 2009 at 9:50 am

One thing you left out was the audio not being synched with the video. It made the whole thing unwatchable for me. I had the same problem with the Buddy Rich concert.

I also kind of get the feeling that these guys (drumchannel) are so incredibly self-impressed with themselves, especially Lombardi, and also Bozzio, from what I’ve seen other videos on their site.

Its a shame – they are obviously dumping a ton of cake into this, and yet they can’t get it right.

Reply

Omar January 18, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Hi mass.

Thanks for the comment! I agree that audio/video synchronization is an issue at DrumChannel, at least for their live shows (well, the two they’ve done). In my case, it depended on which camera view I had selected. The main camera for the Buddy Rich Memorial Concert was less in sync than the Sabian Live event, but neither was perfect for sure.

It also may depend on what speed you connect to the Internet with, but yes, it’s mostly a DrumChannel problem. I believe the site is still in beta mode, and if you’re willing you can submit a bug to them via the Report a Bug button at the top-right of the page; they like getting the feedback (I’ve used it myself). I think over time it will get better.

I do hope that Don Lombardi gets this type of feedback from the users; that way he can coordinate improvements. In any case, I was glad I could watch the show!

Keep coming back here, mass! I appreciate it. If you have any improvements or items you’d like to see here, by all means, let me know!

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