By: Fredwill Hernandez
Latin artists, [including singers, songwriters, producers, and recording engineers] all made their “presence felt” during The [117th] National Association of Music Merchants [NAMM] Show, which ran from Thur. – Jan 24 through Sun. – Jan. 27, , at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Among multiple popular booths at NAMM, was “without a doubt” the Universal Audio[UA] booth, who were showing off their “new and impressive” Apollo X audio interfaces available in four [x6, x8, x8p, or x16] configurations.
According to UA, [The] Apollo x6 for example, allows music producers and post-production studios to track, overdub, and mix with new world-beating A/D and D/A conversion, HEXA Core UAD plug-in processing, Dual-Crystal clocking, and 5.1 surround sound monitoring — all in a sleek “rackmount” Thunderbolt 3 audio interface for [either] Mac or PC.
Music producer and [famed] recording engineer “Fabulous” Fab Dupont was doing tracking and mixing demonstration with the Apollo X audio interfaces [at the UA Booth] with Bogotá, Colombia’s Latin Alternative band Monsieur Periné.
“This is the first time we come to NAMM, [Fab] Dupont was the mixing engineer for our last two albums, [2015’s] “Caja de Musica,” and [2018’s] “Encanto Tropical” which received three Latin Grammy nominations, and is [also] nominated for a Grammy [to take place on Sun. – Feb. 10th] under the Best Latin Rock, Urban, or Alternative album category,” eloquently explained Catalina Garcia, singer, of Monsieur Periné, who won a “Best New Artist” Latin Grammy during the 16thAnnual Latin Grammy Awards.
As I made my rounds, I ran into the Mariachi Divas, who were on their way to perform at [Alvarez] St. Louis Music booth, which was one of three booths the group performed at.
“Mariachi Divas we have a long history with NAMM, we love coming to NAMM, I think I’ve been performing [here] since 2000 and we love to support the people who endorse and support the Divas throughout the years, and it’s the one time a year we can come and model those instruments and companies that give so much love and support to us and many other musicians. We’re in the process of celebrating our 20th Anniversary, and we’re in our 16thyear of performing at the Disneyland Resort “daily,” and we just finished beautiful presentations for Disney Pixar’s movie “Coco” which was amazing,” explained Cindy Shea, founder, Mariachi Divas, who has won two Grammy awards with the group, and has had a total of ten [Latin Grammy and Grammy] nominations combined. “Our [20th] anniversary date is [was] pretty much at the beginning of the year, we’re 20 years into Mariachi Divas, and we’re about to start recording our 20th Anniversary album which I believe will be our 15th [Mariachi Divas] album.”
Another popular booth at NAMM, is [KHS America’s] Hohner accordions booth, who many Latin artists predominately in the Tejano, and Regional Mexican realm consider to be the “best accordions.” To my surprise, I ran into “Tejano Music Pioneer” [and Legend] David Lee Garza, who recently became a Hohner endorsed artist.
“I’ve been playing music for 50 years, very blessed, I started playing back in 1968 with my father Tony A. Garza [and myself], he actually taught me how to play the accordion. We started playing in Poteet, [TX.], and around the San Antonio, [TX.] area. A few years later we decided to form a band ourselves and it was called David Lee Garza y Su Conjunto. I played the accordion, and my brother played the drums, my dad played the bajo sexto and we had a bass player and as we went on we added a guitar, and a saxophone. It eventually got bigger and it wasn’t a conjunto any more. We started recording in 1978 and that’s when Los Musicales were born, it was David Lee Garza y Los Musicales,” explained the Tejano music legend who has won three Latin Grammy’s and feels blessed to [finally] be indorsed after all these years. “Tejano music has a Polka, and a lot of influence from Nortern Mexico. In the San Antonio valley area there were a lot of [bands] conjuntos, so Tejano music is a blend of all of that. The first time I heard an accordion and a sax together in a Polka [Tejano] beat was with my compadre Robert Pulido y Los Clásicos. We started touring with them, and we pretty much had the same instruments except he used two saxophones, I had one. We took from him, from Conjunto Bernal, Los Relámpagos Del Norte, Los Cachorros [de Juan Villareal], a little bit from everybody and that’s how we put the [Tejano] sound together, I guess.”
At the Hohner booth, I also coincidently ran into singer/songwriter and female mariachi band pioneer Dinorah Klinger, who [I found out] was responsible for introducing Mariachi Divas founder [Cindy] Shea, to eventually playing mariachi music.
“I started singing in Mexico City when I was about 9 years old, I learned guitar at that age. My sisters and I used to go in the subways in Mexico City and buses just for the fun of it, just to be able to express ourselves through music, it was beautiful. I started taking professional music lessons at Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes [INBA] or The Fine Arts Institude [of Mexico City], and around twenty years old I met my boyfriend who was an American guy, never in my wildest dream I thought I’m going to end up marrying him, so around the age of twenty-three, I moved with him since he’s from LA. So, we got married and he brought me here [to Los Angeles], but I wanted to continue singing as I did in Mexico City with my bands, with the Cumbia bands, with Salsa bands, and so forth, but I could not do that because it’s very different, the machanics is very different, so I joined an all-female Mariachi Band back then, and thanks to the fact that I play the guitar I was able to do it. A year later, I decided to leave and form my own which was [Mariachi] Las Alondras, an all-female Mariachi band, “truly female,” because there were two other female Mariachi Bands in LA, Las Reynas and Las Adelitas, but the director was a male, he was the one doing all the business for them, [but] “no” when I formed Las Alondras, “I was the director.” [So], after a year or so when I needed a trumpet player, we had been playing with big stars like Stevie Wonder, Sheila E, Patty LaBelle, and Celia Cruz, and amongst those musicians that were playing [also] with these artists, I got a reference [referral] for Cindy [Shea]. Cindy and I met in 1999, and I invited her to come see [and check out] my mariachi band, and she came over and in the beginning she said, “she didn’t like it,” and I said why not [?], what’s wrong with our mariachi — it’s beautiful, and she said: ‘yeah, but where is your music [?], I need to have the music in front of me,’ She is from school, a trumpet player [classically] trained from school, from scratch and we mariachi’s per se, play from memory, we never read the music in front of us [when playing], we memorize it and that’s it. So, that was her only reservation or reason for not [wanting to] joining us, so I eventually convinced her to join us, she was the second Caucasian female in the band, [but] for us “it was never” about her race, I just wanted someone talented willing to cooperate and work, [So] this is how she joined Mariachi Las Alondras. A couple of years later — I had to go with my husband to Michigan for medical school, so I had to leave my band. She took charge of that, she [literally] took over Mariachi Las Alondras, then [eventually] she changed the name to Mariachi Divas, and she continued working with these girls and she took the lead, she took the leadership of this band. “I’m really proud of her” because she really worked it, the way it should be. She’s a very smart person, a [savvy] business woman and with talent, you have everything in one package. She did it, they got two Grammy’s, and I could not be more proud. Fortunately, for me and the world is taking us over and over, bringing us together, so I have [from time to time] been playing with the Divas. I [also], produce the Sacramento Mariachi Festival and every year I have been having the Divas [come and play] for two years in a row now.” eloquently explained Klinger, after a moving performance [with a few of the Mariachi Divas].
At the Hohner booth, I also had the privilege of meeting a young talented singer/songwriter and accordion player from Houston, Texas, who also sang with Klinger and [The] Mariachi Divas.
“I’m the accordionist for the musical group Control, my dad’s band, famously known for playing [the] “Tao Tao.” I started playing like seven years ago during high school times. I started playing a non-brand accordion, then after my dad had bought me two Gabanelli’s and I used those quite a bit, like [for] maybe two years. Really [really] in my heart, I [really] wanted to be playing a Hohner because when I would try them out at Hermes [Music] or the Guitar Center, they had the panther accordions, I liked their sound more and for some reason I felt like at “home” playing them. Meanwhile playing my Gabanalli but saving for a Hohner, then a year later I had enough for a Hohner, them my mom got in contact with the Hohner guy which is Gilbert [Reyes], and I found out he was looking to sponsor me. I had to pay something, so I got an artist discount, and what I did with the rest of the money was use it for school since I was in college at the time, and I just graduated from the University of Texas with a UTRGV finance degree in Dec. 2018,” explained the charismatic Jennifer Degollado, who started playing with Control in 2010 while still attending high school.[Gibson Brands’] KRK Systems, who unveiled at NAMM, their “all new and impressive” KRK Rokit [forth generation] G4’s available in 5”, 7”, 8” and 10” [three way], also had Latin artists/producers/engineers at their booth hosting what it dubbed as the “Latin Hour,” in which Luis “Sabor” Tineo, engineer of legendary D&D Studios, had an intimate conversations with producers/artists [and recording engineers] such as Eduardo “Visitante” Cabra [of Calle 13], Aureo Baqueiro [who has credits with Latin acts such as Alejandro Fernandez, Natalia Lafourcade, Sin Bandera and Thalia], Javier Valverde [who has credits with Latin artists such as Pitbull, and Jose Feliciano], and Orlando Vitto [who has credits with Latin artists Becky G, Luis Fonsi, Los Rabanes, and Brazil’s Anitta], among others.
“Yesterday I was part of KRK Systems’ “Latin Hour” panel, and today I’m here at the Universal Audio booth with Fab Dupont who [has writing, producing, and mixing engineer credit and] was the mixing engineer on my solo project titled “Trending Tropics,” I release about three months ago, and we’re here discussing how the [production] of one of the album’s single titled “Dandy del Congo” came about, us using the new and impressive Apollo X audio interfaces,” explained the “24X Grammy winner” Visitante, co-founder [of Puerto Rico’s] Calle 13, who was also visiting NAMM for the first time. “I’m impressed with all the people and everything going on here at NAMM, Its like a big park full of diversion.”
Gibson guitars [booth] also had Latin acts performing, and I was fortunate to view performances by Monsieur Periné, Diamante Electrico, and also an “electrifying performance” by Gustavo Galindo.
“I’m the bass player, singer/songwriter of Colombia’s [Alt. Rock] band Diamante Electrico, I’m just one-third of the band here. I originally play bass, the band is a trio, for today’s performance we had a little different thing. The rest of the band is in Colombia, as for me I’ve been living in Mexico for a couple of months now, so it was easier for me to come and perform [with back up guitar and keyboard player Camilo Sanchez], but we play the states a lot. We’ve played Cochella a couple of years ago, we’ve played Lallapalooza, South by Southwest [SXSW], [so] we’ve been kind of busy in the states. This year and next year is going to be good for the states because we have a new agent [at William Morris], so it’s going to be pretty cool,” explained Juan Galeano, who founded Diamante Electrico in 2012 with fellow bandmates Andee Zeta, and Daniel Álvarez. “It’s my first time coming to NAMM actually, so I was so excited, I felt like a kid in a toy store because there are so many brands and instruments [all] in one place. We however have a long standing relationship with Gibson, since 2006 [13 yrs.], and I love the brand, I’ve been using since many years, I own different guitars, basses, electric’s, acoustic’s, dub rolls, mandolins, etc., I’m a big fan of the “brand” and now with this new horizon that’s opening with new management, and new people and everything happening with the brand.”
I also had a chance to speak to one of my favorite singers/songwriters [currently] in Los Angeles, to get his take on NAMM and his Gibson stage performance, and about [his relationship with] the brand.
“It’s [also] my first time here at NAMM, I’ve had a relationship with Gibson since the inception of my career [around 2010], they took me to them and they’ve supported me with guitars and little things, they’ve always been great and we’ve had a beautiful relationship [ever] since,” eloquently explained Gustavo Galindo, after performing “Isla de Sal,” “Grita el Cielo,” a new song called “Valentine,” and “Nada que Perder.” “It’s impressive to see the industry, the instruments, guitars, and everything that goes on here at NAMM. The jobs it [also] brings, it’s magical [just] to be here and witness everything.”