NAMM 2015 – Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blue Oyster Cult, Xander & The Peace Pirates

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Another four days of craziness—also known as NAMM 2015—is in the books. Nonstop crushes of humanity combined with aural overload equals good times, with a heaping dose of physical and mental fatigue at the end of each day.

NAMM is a trade show, and the stated purpose is to bring manufacturers of music equipment and potential buyers together.  If one looks beneath the glitz and glamour at the surface, that mission can be found in the private meeting rooms tucked away at the fringes of the convention. However, since pleasure is always more fun than business it’s the parties and personal appearances that generate the most headlines.

Such was the case Thursday evening at the Peavey 50th Anniversary party.  Every guitarist from bar band hacker to mega rock star has at one time or another played through Peavey equipment. The company threw a party to celebrate a half-century of innovation, and the guest of honor was founder, Hartley Peavey.   After the dinner in his honor, musical guests took the stage.  Lead by two original members Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser and Eric Bloom, the band played a short set of their three biggest hits. Godzilla was followed by Cities On Flame. Introducing the next song Bloom said “let’s see if we can get some extra cowbell on this one,” and of course the crowd went crazy. Naturally, Don’t Fear The Reaper wrapped up their evening.

The headliner for the event was the latest iteration of . There are two original members left, Gary Rossington and Ricky Meadlocke (Meadlocke was there at the formation of the band in the early 70’s but left before their peak years, rejoining in 1996).  Go to any dive bar in America on any given night and you can hear Gimme Three Steps, Mr. Breeze and Sweet Home Alabama, but there’s something special about hearing those songs being played by one of the guys who was in the recording studio when those tracks were laid down. While watching the band play, someone remarked “hey, the bass player looks like Michael Anthony.” It certainly did, but would Van Halen’s bassist really be playing with ? The opening riff to Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love answered that question. The version was spirited, if sloppy (more like a loose jam session than a polished song). While and Lynyrd Skynyrd are in the twilight of their careers, on Saturday afternoon a young band who are poised on the edge of greatness performed at the Gibson room.

are two brothers from England; Keith Xander/lead vocals & lead guitar and Stuart Xander/rhythm guitar.  Keith Xander was born without a right hand, and uses a hook in which his guitar pick is inserted. He is one of the most amazing performers one would ever hope to see.  Not only is he immensely talented on the guitar and vocals, he burns with an unbelievable passion for the music, pouring every ounce of energy into his performance. In addition to their originals, they played a completely different and stunning interpretation of Voodoo Child (appropriate, as their debut album will be produced by Eddie Kramer, who produced all of Jimi Hendrix’s studio releases). The opportunity to see him perform in such an intimate room was a rare treat…years later, when he is a household name, it will be one of those moments when you can say “I was there at the beginning.” So the displays have been taken down, the trucks packed and gone, the musicians are home, and the Anaheim Convention Center is dark and quiet pending the arrival of the next event, which would be the Medical Design and Manufacturing West Conference & Exhibition. No way they’re gonna have half the fun that we did!

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