Monday, January 28, 2019

Stylophone GEN R-8 at the NAMM Show - Sunday

Just to be a completist, here's one last blog post about my trip to Anaheim to help the folks from Dubreq promote their new Stylophone GEN R-8 analog synthesizer.

Sunday was the final day of the convention. I felt like I was moving in slow-motion all day. I was sore and exhausted from days of standing for hours, walking long distances, relentless noise, and lack of sleep. The crowds had thinned significantly, so I took the day off from the Dubreq booth. I made one last stop at the nearby booth of the Bob Moog Foundation to say goodbye to my friends there, and to check out their vintage modular synth one last time.

Then I continued my search for affordable studio microphones that I could tell my voice acting students about in my upcoming workshop at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. With the increased interest in podcasting and DIY music recording, the manufacturers have responded with lots of great gear.

I spent my last half hour or so back at the Dubreq booth with Marcella and John. It was a pleasure to work with them and to witness both their enthusiasm for Stylophone products and their appreciation for Stylophone enthusiasts. I am so glad I had this opportunity to help spread the word about Dubreq and their entire Stylophone product line.

After final goodbyes with Marcella and John, I called the cab driver who had given me a ride Saturday night. He picked me up outside the convention center and we talked about music and audio recording almost all the way to the airport.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Stylophone GEN R-8 at the NAMM Show - Saturday

There's not much to report in today's blog entry about the new Stylophone GEN R-8 portable analog synthesizer. At a trade show, one day can seem just like another from inside a booth.

We had lots of delighted visitors try out the instruments. Some folks were a bit shy and I had to coax them into putting on the headphones and playing the touch-sensitive keyboard. For many, it was the 16-step sequencer that really caught their attention and made their faces light up.

I was only in the booth for a few hours. I had heard that Kid Koala was planning to stop by. If he did, it was when I was away. I did, however, get to visit briefly with Michael Boddicker and Roger Linn.

I spent much of the rest of the day doing research for the audio production workshop I will be teaching next week in Denver.

In the afternoon I attended a panel discussion about classic analog synthesizers hosted by my friends at the Bob Moog Foundation (an educational non-profit not associated with the musical instrument company.) One of the panelists was Geoff Downes, a keyboard player who has been in three of my favorite bands. I got to ask him a question in the seminar about his keytars. I have followed Geoff's career and music since I was a teenager and have seen him in-concert with either Yes or ASIA around a dozen times, so I take any opportunity to visit with him.  After the session, I spoke with him briefly and got a photo, but my smart phone camera is really bad and so was the lighting.

It turned out to be a rather fun and productive day, although I am getting convention-weary. I am very glad to be here helping Dubreq, but I will also be glad to go home soon.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Stylophone GEN R-8 at the NAMM Show - Friday

I have been sharing my experiences at the 2019 winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, California this week. In case you don't know, this is a huge convention for the music industry. The trade show features more than 2,000 vendors from all over the world, showing their latest instruments, recording gear, stage lighting and more. The attendees -- besides the manufacturers -- are music store owners, musicians, music teachers, and recording studio folks. I am spending part of my time here in Dubreq's trade show booth, helping spread the word about the new Stylophone GEN R-8 analog synthesizer and other Stylophone products.

My Friday began with breakfast at my hotel. At first, I sat with a couple of vendors from Slovenia.  I think they said they work for D'Addario, the guitar string company. There was a bit of a language gap, so I am not certain. After they left, I ended up spending the rest of my breakfast in conversation with an executive from one of my very most favorite synthesizer companies (other than Dubreq, of course.)

Then while waiting for a shuttle bus ride to the convention center, I had a great conversation with Nashville-based drummer Vincent Dee. We talked about his long career as a country music drummer and my short career as a TV producer at TNN, The Nashville Network. We also had a good laugh about Nashville's world famous "nun bun," a cinammon pastry that looked like Mother Teresa.

After arriving at the convention center, I visited several of the other booths. In my travels, I happened to meet Bobby Kimball, the original lead singer of Toto. Nice guy!

Finally, I made it over to the Dubreq booth to find that company owners Marcella Kavanagh and John Simpson had turned the table on me... literally. They rotated the display table 90 degrees so more people could play our various Stylophone instruments at the same time. We had a rather steady stream of people stop by to check out our gear. Among them were several friends of mine that I had met at various synthesizer trade shows, including Mike Learmouth, the co-founder of the upcoming Synthplex festival in Burbank, CA. I also got to demo the Stylophone GEN R-8 for the publishers of the Synthtopia blog. We had some record producers and music store executives visit with us today. One visitor told me about a trippy song called "Living Room" by David Holmes that features a Stylophone S1 played through a wah pedal. I think the highlight of my time at the Dubreq booth today was hearing a guy who tried out the GEN R-8 say "this is the best thing I've seen" at the convention.

I wrapped up my day at NAMM by shaking a tambourine for awhile in the 20th annual NAMM drum circle, and enjoying a fun outdoor concert featuring Sarah McLachlan and James "J.T." Taylor from Kool & The Gang.

Now, back in my hotel room, I can hear fireworks exploding in the sky above Disneyland. It's a fitting ending to a fantastic day!

Stylophone GEN R-8 at the NAMM Show - Thursday

Today (Thursday) was the first official day of the trade show at Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, California. While catching a shuttle bus ride from my hotel to the convention center, I got to visit briefly with a professional drummer who has toured with a bunch of famous acts. The only one I can remember is Barry Manilow. (He writes the songs that make the whole world sing, I am told.) I hit the gift shop for some NAMM swag first thing. Then I spent most of the day in the Dubreq booth with company owners Marcella Kavanagh and John Simpson. They are such great people and I am glad I've finally had the opportunity to meet and spend time with them in-person this week.

We must have had more than a hundred visitors check out the new Stylophone GEN R-8, along with the GEN X-1, S1, and Beatbox. There were folks from all over the USA, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia. It was fun to see the pure delight in the faces of many Stylophone fans who came by to get a hands-on experience with our two GEN R-8 prototype instruments. There was also a great deal of interest in the GEN X-1 among visitors who were not previously aware of it.

As you might expect at a musical instrument convention, the noise was relentless. We had organs, Mellotrons, a Haken Continuum, and various synths competing for attention all around us. Fortunately, the Stylophones held their own, with lots of people (including several friends of mine) making the trek to our little booth. One guy (I don't recall his name) said that seeing Dubreq's Stylophone products was going to be the highlight of his convention experience. Other visitors included Mikey D, who scored a guest pass from Dubreq, and theremin expert Randy George.  Toward the end of the afternoon, even Cuckoo stopped by.

According to my fitbit watch, I walked nearly 5 miles today. I'm feeling it. I'm also feeling satisfied after a long and enjoyable day of promoting Stylophones at one of the biggest musical instrument conventions in the world.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Stylophone Gen R-8 at the NAMM Show - Wednesday

I actually wasn’t planning to attend the winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, California this year. But when Dubreq’s John Simpson needed some help demonstrating the new Stylophone Gen R-8 at the convention, I couldn’t resist volunteering to be one of the first people to get my hands on the latest member of the Stylophone instrument family.

I started my Wednesday morning with a long drive to the Denver airport from my home in the suburbs on the opposite side of town. I made it to my gate right as boarding began. I enjoyed some of the 2.5 hour flight visiting with Nalani, a professional vocalist and bass player. She was scheduled to perform with a musician from Nashville late Wednesday night at the Marriott hotel on the convention center campus. I told her I would catch her performance if I could stay up late enough. (I couldn’t. I’m tired!)

I dropped off my luggage  at my hotel and headed straight for the Anaheim Convention Center where I met John and his wife, Marcella Kavanagh. While they set up their trade show booth, I gave myself a crash course in operating the Gen R-8. (I had read the owner’s manual at home.) They have two prototype units that were finished only a few days ago. Both are almost fully operational but have a few features that aren’t quite ready to go. With John’s help, I learned how to use most of the instrument’s features and we figured out how to best demonstrate some of the deeper capabilities such as CV patching and the really cool 16-step  sequencer.

And with that bit of training, we made our way to the media preview event where I demonstrated the the Gen R-8 for several music technology bloggers from the US and Europe. It was quite a lot of fun, and a real challenge to speak about an instrument I just played for the first time today. I have conducted dozens of interviews with all kinds of celebrities during my long career as a TV producer. I found it a lot more difficult to be the interviewee. (I hope I didn’t babble too much.)

John, Marcella and I finished the day with a great meal and conversation. Now it’s time to get a good night’s rest. Tomorrow the trade show will be open and, I am hoping, will be very busy at booth #10306.