Sy and I performing in the Lewitt Lounge at NAMM 2013. Photo by Kris Crosby
I pulled up to the Anaheim Convention Center on Saturday looking forward to a full day of checking out some new equipment, connecting with some of my musical brethren, walking around to different exhibits until my feet damn near fell off, and simply making it well worth my time. The first thing I planned to do after picking up my badge was head up to the Lewitt Lounge, meet up with Sy Smith and check out her performance. WELP… Good ole See Smit ended up calling a nice audible at the line real quick by calling me before I even got out of the car…
Me: “What it bee like?!”
Sy: “What it bee like! …Hey Zo…….. You wanna play some keys?”
Me: “Heeeell yeah, I wanna play some keys!”
And there it was. The next thing I knew, I was rushing up to the Lewitt Audio Lounge not to check Sy’s performance, but to become a part of it. Sy Smith & Zo! performing together at NAMM? …Not mad at that at all. I walked in, met the musicians, we put together a short list of songs to perform, talked out some of the music because this was our first time playing as a collective and put on a helluva show if I may say so myself. MAN it was a lotta fun rockin’ out with Lemar Carter on drums, Terron Crayton on bass, and Erick Walls who acted a fool on that guitar. An enthusiastic and very receptive crowd gathered and settled into the room for us and it turned out to be a helluva way to kick off my NAMM 2013 experience.
The crew on stage going to work… Photo by Kris Crosby
I got to catch up with a few very important folks… My brother Tim Scott Jr., who I tour with, ya know… fairly often (drummer for The Foreign Exchange) and my homeboys Kristopher Crosby, and LaDarrel “Saxappeal” Johnson (keyboardist and saxophonist, respectively for Detroit-based group Collective Peace)… and then it was off to check out the Moog Music spot to meet face-to-face and shake hands with their artist liaison responsible for bringing me on board with the company. So I walked on over to section 5300 and chopped it up a bit with the good folks at Moog. I even got a chance to play around with their brand new synth unveiled just before NAMM, the Sub Phatty. JUST as I finished playing around with this new ‘toy’ and started kicking around ideas in regards to how to possibly get my hands on one, I started hearing someone playing the harmonica. They weren’t playing blues riffs or anything like that, it was a very distinct style and tone…. I thought to myself, “Naaaaaaah, it couldn’t be” *shaking my head* “Naaaaaaaaaaaaah, that ain’t him….. That’s not him.” I happened to take a glance over my left shoulder and saw a nice-sized crowd starting to develop….. So, naturally I headed on over to see what the big deal was…. PLUS I wanted to see if my ear was on point or if it was deceiving me. ….And dammit, if I didn’t walk over to the next section and see none other than Stevie Wonder playing the harmonica. Now, for those who don’t know, I’m gonna make this perfectly clear to you: In my humble opinion… as a total artist, Stevie is the greatest of all-time. PERIOD. So, I dropped all of my ‘artist’ shit immediately and instantly went into ‘fan’ mode. I pulled that iPhone out, reached my long ass arm up and began snapping pictures. I would have loved to have met him, but I knew that wasn’t happening with the large number of people he attracted. It was DOPE to hear him play up close like that though. These stories continue to multiply, man… I swear.
The greatest of all-time.
Walked away from the Stevie madness and ventured down a little ways to the Hammond section and there sat legendary organist/pianist Dr. Lonnie Smith who was giving a damn CLINIC on one of the Hammond Organs. And please forgive me, because I’m not familiar with the brother who was playing guitar, but he was KILLIN’. The two of them together were running through a few songs while trading off solos. One helluva(n) experience…
I hope someone helps me I.D. the brother on the guitar… He and Dr. Lonnie Smith took NO prisoners.
After walking around, trying out new instruments, and talking to folks for another hour or so, I made a one-man executive decision to sit my ass down somewhere in order to avoid my body hating my guts later on in the day. I trooped out of the Convention Center and sat on one of the concrete slabs they have available for folks who care about their bodies not falling apart like I do. I got pretty comfortable and was relaxing a bit, checking up on de Tweet Streets, Facebook, email, etc…. And out walks DJ Rhettmatic and DJ Babu (Dilated Peoples) of The Beat Junkies. Now, I need y’all to understand this first… Me and Rhett have been missing each other on the West Coast for a good three years. Every time I’m out there, he’ll be spinning somewhere and I can’t make it… I’ll have a show and he’s booked up, etc. So, I got up off of that concrete and we finally met face-to-face. And Babu… Shit, I’ve been a Dilated fan since college, so it was dope to meet him and hear him say after Rhett introduced us, “Ohhhh, you work with Phonte, right? Y’all did an album together….” WORD UP, BABU! When kats who you’ve listened to forever know some of your work?? That’s ALWAYS dope. As I always say, you never know who’s listening… and possibly enjoying your material. Very humbling.
NAMM 2013… You were good to me. I hope the current year will earn me an invitation to 2014’s event…. That would be…uhhh….well…. Pretty alright.