NAMM 2019 Recap: Day 1
For this year’s Winter NAMM Show, vlogger Gabriel O’Brien brought a microphone and a camera to give our readers an inside look at the industry’s most important and exclusive event. Follow along each day as Gabe and Colin, our writer, provide behind-the-scenes footage of the NAMM show floor, the Taylor room, our video booth, and our artist suite, where we’ll be featuring some of the talented musicians who work with our guitars.
Thursday: Day 1
It’s a bright and characteristically sunny day here in Anaheim, California, home of the annual winter NAMM Show, and we’re ready to start exploring the industry’s biggest event. If you’ve ever been to the show, you know what to expect. If not? You’re in for a treat. It’s every bit as packed and high-energy as any music festival, as musical instrument makers and music tech leaders come together to share their new developments with dealers, musicians, and industry veterans. It’s Comic Con for music nerds, and the people-watching is everything you could hope for from a major international music event. The courtyard at the front of the Anaheim Convention Center is a sea of colorful faces and even more colorful hair—if you’re a lover of 80s rock and everything big hair and tight leather, this is the place for you.
The Taylor Room
Day one in the Taylor room is usually a little quieter than the rest of the weekend as people trickle in from all corners of the globe. Our showroom is packed with amazing guitars, including the main event: the Taylor Grand Pacific, a new round-shoulder dreadnought designed by Andy Powers. Inspired by the acoustic tones of classic recordings from Doc Watson and the like, the Grand Pacific produces a new kind of Taylor tone that will have you thinking again about what you believe a Taylor should sound like. It’s as warm and classic as our Grand Auditorium guitars are bright and articulate, with amazing low-end power and beautiful sustain thanks to V-Class bracing.
We have two full walls of Grand Pacific guitars, including two Builder’s Edition models—the rosewood/spruce 717 and the mahogany/spruce 517—and a sapele/spruce 317.
We’re also showing off new Grand Concert guitars, which have been upgraded to feature V-Class bracing. The new interior structure lends extra power and projection to these compact guitars. When you hear one, you’ll be blown away by the difference.
Checking In with the Ebony Project
Gabe caught up with Scott Paul, Taylor’s Director of Natural Resource Sustainability, for an update on the Ebony Project, one of our company-wide efforts to reduce waste of valuable natural resources—specifically, the West African ebony that composes the fretboards of our guitars. Exciting things are happening in and around our Crelicam mill in Cameroon, Africa, where our partners with the Congo Basin Institute are working with us to develop scalable ebony replanting initiatives. Though these wondrous trees can take up to 35 years to reach reproductive maturity and up to 100 years to grow ready for harvesting, we’re getting a start this spring by planting 1,500 ebony trees and 1,500 medicine and fruit trees. That’s the largest single ebony replanting effort in history, and by planting other trees found in these forests, we’re working to uphold the natural biodiversity that has supported the communities of Cameroon for centuries.
The Artists of NAMM
Day one featured a truly memorable suite of performances from some exciting established and emerging musical artists on the Taylor stage. First up, El David Aguilar sat down with a Taylor and played some of his Mexico City-inspired work, with gorgeous fingerstyle acoustic playing and a homegrown sound that speaks directly from his Mexican heritage.
Next, LA rock band Badflower stepped up and dominated the stage with a rollicking set of tracks from their upcoming full-length debut, titled OK, I’M SICK. Their music was a perfect fit for the acoustic treatment, and surefire hits like “Animal” had the NAMM crowd fired up. Grab the album in stores or streaming services on February 22.
To close things out for the day, Canadian pop songstress Lights sat down for a set of acoustic versions of some of her pop hits. A talented player with a voice that blends the best of Regina Spektor, St. Vincent, and Karen O, Lights has played Taylor guitars when she adapts her hits for acoustic arrangements, finding inspiration in the warmth and clarity, along with the comfortable feel, that they provide. From my perspective in the audience, her set was a stunning blend of gorgeous vocals and exciting acoustic sounds, and the rest of the crowd seemed to agree.
Of course, covering NAMM is about improvisation—searching for stories in hidden places, finding voices with stories and music to share that you might not ever experience otherwise. We were lucky to run into Brian Collins, a Nashville singer-songwriter whose latest album, The Mix Mill Studio Sessions, was recorded entirely on Taylor guitars. He sat down with Gabe and I for a quick chat and a sample of some of his recent work, which you can find on Apple Music now.
Day two is already in full swing, so make sure you’re following us on Facebook and Instagram for live performances and interviews from the Taylor booth. Follow us on Twitter for updates and, of course, some beautiful Taylor guitars.