NAMM: Big Bunch O’ Musicians

I was recently hired by Big Fish Audio to document their booth at the annual National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) convention, in Anaheim CA. It’s four days of loud noise, sensory overload, and big crowds…in fact, it’s the biggest convention Anaheim experiences each year. It’s a place where music manufacturers rub elbows with consumers, buyers, and musicians both legendary and unknown.

One of the great things about this show (I’ve attended before) is that top-caliber musicians will often stop at a booth and play impromptu jam sessions, often alongside skilled-but-unknown musicians. Such was the case at the Big Fish booth.

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The lead picture is multi-instrumentalist Les July (guitar, bass, trumpet), who stopped by for a few minutes to jam with his trumpet. Below is Michael Ripoll, an amazing session guitar player, who was there at the booth promoting an upcoming release with Big Fish. I took the photos for that project’s cover art a month or so ago, which I documented in an earlier blog post.

Below is Dapo Torimiro, an amazing piano player who left medical school in Nigeria to become a professional keyboard player and recording artist. It’s an amazing experience to hear someone so good, and yet be so humble about it.

So of course by the end of the first day, these two are performing with each other (they had originally been booked for separate gigs).

Saxophonist Cherry Ng stopped by on the first day, and ended up coming by quite a few times to join in. Here she is, taking a breather between solos.

Bill “The Buddha of Bass” Dickens stopped by with his signature seven-string bass, to jam at the very end of the show with Dapo and Cherry. This man can make the bass sound like a guitar, a synthesizer, a bass, and all three at once. Not just fast, but multiple lines all going at the same time, like there were two or three players in the space of one person. Truly something you need to see to appreciate.

Keyboardist/Producer Kenneth Crouch stopped by, and he and Michael Ripoll performed a version of “My Funny Valentine”, as well as a couple of others.

Saxophonist Mike Phillips also stopped by. I’m running out of music-related superlatives, so I’ll just say…outstanding. He’s played with Prince, among others.

Speaking of Prince, Sheila E. (Sheila Escovedo) stopped by the booth to chat with the Big Fish people. She didn’t perform—probably hard to wander around with a percussion rig—but graciously agreed to pose for a photo. Byron and Tom of Big Fish posed with her.

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