By: Fredwill Hernandez
Latin artists’, [including singers, songwriters, producers, and recording engineers] all made their “presence felt” during The [118th] National Association of Music Merchants [NAMM] Show, which ran from Thur. – Jan 16 through Sun. – Jan. 19, , at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Among multiple popular booths at NAMM, was “without a doubt” the [KHS America’s] Hohner accordions booth, who many Latin artists predominately in the Tejano, and Regional Mexican realm consider to be the “best accordions.”
On Sat. – Jan. 18th, I accidently ran into Del Records, exclusive artist Oscar Cortez, who has been making headlines ever since the release of classic songs like “Del Rojo,” “Callejón 58,” and “El Ghetto,” [in what he dubs as Corridos Callejeros, or what in English can be referred to as Folk Tales — songs which chronicle life of the streets] which displayed an [authentic] style and sound many Regional Mexican singers and artists [in my opinion] were quick to emulate and try to copy!
As to what brought him to NAMM, Cortez, explained, “We came to the NAMM, to check out the new accordions, and to check out other new instruments, a little bit or everything. It’s our first time coming and my [first] impression is that the NAMM Show is “dope,” it’s like a big swapmeet of musical instruments, everything can be found here. We have run into fellow artists [and musicians] and I feel is a very cool event where we can come mingle with fellow colleagues in [and of] the music industry. On Jan 10th we released a new EP [live] titled Corridos Callejeros Vol. 1 and we – I have a new album that I am currently [also] cooking up.”
Spotted at the Hohner accordions booth were also [Duo] Voces Del Rancho, but it was two other young musicians [which caught my attention], one thirteen years old — singing and playing a Bajo Sexto [Sixth Bass] joined by his brother — eight [who was playing the accordion] known artistically as Yohance & Yandel “Los Parceritos De Cali,” who had a nice size crowd observing their impressive [at their age] musical talent.
“We started two years ago, but I honestly feel we’ve had the music in blood since toddlers, little by little our playing and music [has] progressed. My little brother has looked up to me but honestly he taught himself [to play four instruments] because that’s what he has wanted to do — his interest and desire to learn has motivated him to stay focus practice and learn,” eloquently explained Yohance — the singer/songwriter who plays eight instruments and is returning to NAMM for the second time. “Little by little we picked up the singing and eventually the songwriting. People aren’t going to know who you are at first but playing here and there, taking advantage of any opportunity to play and sings not only helps you get known — but helps us as artists hone our skills.”
During NAMM another [very] popular booth is the Gibson [Brands] guitars booth, and this year was no different. Amongst the most anticipated [Latin artists] performances were by Frankie J, and Andy Vargas who besides being a solo artist [with his band Souleros] – most know him as [longtime] vocalist for [Carlos] Santana.
“I love the NAMM because the thing I love to do which is music and playing with musical toys are here. I started coming to NAMM like ten years ago and that’s when I started introducing myself, I started to work with people, and I started using their gear — they started showing me new gear. The creators of the instruments, the creators of the musical tools are here and we’re the users. It all comes from the spirit, the spirit is where it all starts, but this right here is where fellow musicians, creators, and dreamers all come up here to share, to show new things, and for us to perform and share positive vibrations. I love the NAMM, I’m not usually able to come so many days but this year thank God [because of my schedule], I have been here every day,” explained Vargas after joining Frankie J during his Gibson acoustic stage set and performing their new song titled “Were Still Here Together.” “Frankie J is a soul brother of mine, we’ve been wanting to get together [creatively] for quite sometime, [so] we got together and just started talking about life. Just started talking about how there are a lot of challenges that come upon in life, whether it be relationships or friendships or whatever – the message is that through all the difficulties in life we are still here, “we’re still here.” The goal of life is to brake through [all] the challenges, learn, and become a bigger and better person.”
As I made my rounds I also accidently ran into percussionist, [singer/songwriter] Paris Escovedo, son of Joseph Thomas Escovedo, better known as “Coke” Escovedo, from the famed Escovedo [percussionist] musical family. Paris’ father gain recognition and worldwide fame for [among other things] being the percussionist on Carlos Santana’s second album referred to as Santana III. Mike Carabello, Coke [Escovedo], and Greg Rolie [actually] wrote the song “No One to Depend On,” included in the album and was [eventually] released as the second single of the album [which in my opinion] helped Santana’s [III] album reach #1 on the Billboard’s albums charts in 1971.
“I come to the NAMM to speak with my endorsers: Zyldjan cymbals, Tycoon Percusion, and Vic Firth sticks. I’ve been coming to NAMM for like ten years, and aside from speaking and giving props to my endorsers, it’s a good time to catch up with old friend and colleagues in the music business. I always come see my family [too], the rest of the Escovedo’s since were always busy with our playing commitments and schedule,” eloquently explained Escovedo, who has been busy promoting his [recently released] Legacy The Album — through The Orchard.
Another popular booth during the NAMM is the [Gibson Brands] KRK monitors booth, and this year was no different. During NAMM the [KRK] booth usually host panels moderated by [NYC based producer/engineer] Luis “Sabor” Tineo with [predominately] Latin music producers and engineers, to get their take on what microphones and plug-ins they use, and to dig a little deeper into their recording and mixing techniques.
It was at the KRK booth that I [accidently] ran into Chicano musical icon Guillermo Antonio Garcia known artistically as [singer] Little Willie G [of Thee Midniters] who explained why [yearly] he looks forward to NAMM, “Coming to NAMM is something we have been doing for a couple of years, as a musician [artist] to come see the new instruments and gadgets that are available to help us sound better – it’s just a great place to come and hang. For eight years this has been a yearly tradition plus we have friends that we’ve met through the years that have either managed music stores and instrument companies that are now in managerial positions in companies like PRS, Gretch, Fender, Remo, and Soul Tones. When we come to NAMM we also run into fellow musicians or people in the industry we might of lost contact with — it’s a great place to reconnect [in person], which I think is [much] better than social media.”
During my [yearly] rounds at NAMM, I also make a stop at two companies that I predict [and anticipate] will change the sound in [some] Latin music tracks “still to be created,” one is: Kala Brand Music Co., and their unique U Bass[es], and the other is Eventide, due to [among other things] their Anthology XI plug-ins bundle — comprised of twenty-three plug-ins based on over “45 years” of Eventide studio mainstays!
Not all – but among a few items unveiled by Eventide [during NAMM] was their [52nd] triple chorus algorithm TriceraChorus, and to mark the occasion releasing the fully-loaded, limited edition H9 Dark; allowing musicians to “play with a full deck” of all 52 effects with over 600 unique presets, releasing v3.0 operating software for its wildly versatile Rose [modulated] delay pedal along with the new Eventide Device Manager for pedal management, and a Spring reverb plug-in for Desktop and iOS with the sound and character of the popular reverbs found in guitar amplifiers. It also goes a step further by allowing access to physical parameter controls not readily available in a real spring tank.
According to Eventide, by tweaking these parameters, the Spring [reverb] can create faithful representations of real springs or push the physical boundaries to achieve new distinctive sounds. The Tension [TNSION] and Num Springs [NUMSPR] knobs work in concert to control the amount of “springiness” in the processed sound. Additional adjustable parameters include Resonance and Low and High damping. The beloved performance controls made popular in Eventide’s Blackhole, UltraTap and MangledVerb plugins are also available – Ribbon allowing users to program two settings for any combination of the controls and seamlessly transition between them, and the programmable HotSwitch offering an instantaneous jump to an alternate setting at the push of a button.
Spring [reverb] also includes Tremolo – a tube amp style tremolo – to further nuance or exaggerate guitar tone with fun and intuitive controls. Tremolo can be inserted “pre- or post-reverb” for an even wider range of tonal options and sound exploration.