NAMM is one of the busiest times of the year for the music industry. Every January, the largest music products trade show in the world hits Anaheim, CA, and droves of enthusiasts go to check out the various products, or show off products of their own. Then there are others who go for the music. And at The Paradiddler, the focus is drums.
Once again, I did not have the opportunity to attend in person (maybe next year?). Fortunately, we have sites like DrumChannel.com that streams the event. It’s Sabian’s yearly “Sabian Live”, with live entertainment from some of the best drummers that use Sabian cymbals. I, for one, use Sabian cymbals myself, and I’m very happy with them. Of course, the pros make them sound phenomenal.
Similar to last year, DrumChannel.com had various camera angles during the show that you could switch between (five to be exact), with the fifth one reserved for the backstage interviews. In reviewing DrumChannel.com’s Sabian Live 2009, I tried to glean from the interviews what I could while at the same time watching the live performances. That was a tall order! I missed some really great stuff on both sides, so I took a different slant this time. I decided to be more of a photographer, taking video stills from the live stream of the musical performances, and presenting them here for your viewing pleasure. Alas, I could not get the whole show (more on that later).
The event was co-hosted by Dom Famularo, drumming ambassador to the world, and Dream Theater’s own Mike Portnoy. Dom reminds me of Terry Bozzio, in the sense that they’re both so enthusiastic about drumming that it’s infectious. You can’t not like drums when you’re around those guys. And that’s just from watching them online! The only thing wrong with Mike Portnoy was that he didn’t play. Well, he was there to host and MC, so we’ll let it slip (this time).
Musical guests for Sabian Live were:
- Little Kids Rock – students from the organization dedicated to putting music back in schools
- Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats
- Terry Bozzio, Tony Levin, David Torn and Pat Mastelotto
- Steve Ferrone with The Master Volume All-Stars featuring Steve Postell, Leland Sklar, Kevin Ricard and other celebrities
Here are some highlights from the performances.
Little Kids Rock
Here’s the scoop on this fine organization, taken from LittleKidsRock.org: “Since 2002, Little Kids Rock has been dedicated to putting music back in schools. We provide students with free musical instruments and instruction that focuses on their favorite popular music styles, including rock, blues, rap and hip-hop. So far, over 1,200 schools in more than 23 cities nationwide have benefited from a Little Kids Rock program, and the response from kids, parents and teachers has been phenomenal.”
The kids at NAMM put on a pretty good show. They played two songs: “Aces High” from Iron Maiden(!) and “La Grange” by ZZ Top. Ok, I don’t even remember if I’ve ever heard “Aces High”, but these kids’ rendition of it was very well performed. I’ll have to give it up to the bass player, though: anyone (especially a kid) who can play bass like Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris is fine in my book!
Their rendition of “La Grange” was a little fast for my taste, but they got through it well enough. I think that’s a song that has to be enjoyed at the original speed, but that’s just me!
Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats
I had not the chance to see any of this band’s performances until tonight. This was a real treat, because this group was fantastic.
I like Chad’s playing in Red Hot Chili Peppers, but I like his performances outside of that band more than inside. In the 2008 Buddy Rich Memorial concert review (2nd article), I talked about Chad’s excellent performance in the show, one of the best of the night. I think his performance with the Meatbats was even better. It seems like he plays more liberated when outside of RHCP. That’s not a bad thing, however. When you’re in a band, it’s always about the song, and the best songs are those where the musicians put the song first before themselves. But with the Bombastic Meatbats, it’s more about jamming, and boy did they jam.
It was a very spirited set, six songs in all. At least, that’s what I counted. One of the songs sounded like a medley of three. Chad introduced the second song called “Oops I Spilled My Beer.” I’m positive many in attendance could relate J. The Bombastic Meatbats to me were the best part of Sabian Live.
Terry Bozzio, Tony Levin, David Torn, Pat Mastelotto
If Terry Bozzio’s going to be on the bill, you know you’re in for, well, complexity. This night was no exception. I should have timed the first song, because it took forever! It was a brooding, dark, menacing piece. The next day during DC at NAMM Terry mentioned that it was all improvised, and that for a lot of the performance he could not hear at all at least one of the other musicians. It sounded all in unison to me, which was very impressive. It seemed more like a progressive rock piece, kind of self-indulgent (in a good way though!). Tony Levin’s playing was just sick – it amazes me how he’s flailing away on his ‘bass’ and creates such beautiful melodies.
Steve Ferrone with the Master Volume All-Stars
Well, it was getting very late at this point, and the feed from Drum Channel was a little shaky, but I did get a few pics from this performance. I have to say that this was my least favorite part of the show, even though the drumming was very good. Steve had a very nice pocket going. He swears like a trooper, though! The song selection was not my cup of tea, but I like anything live!
And that was the show!
As far as the sound goes, it was much, much better this time around than last year, so Drum Channel got that right this time. Chad Smith’s drums sounded just fantastic. Like I said, that was my favorite part of the show.
In a future article, I’ll put out pics from some of the interviewing that went on backstage during the performances. It’s very difficult to cover everything from afar (hm, I’ll have to assemble a team for the next one!). In any case, it was a good time, with very good performances. I believe Drum Channel will be posting these performances on their site in the near future, so watch out for those.
And that’s a wrap!