NAMM for nerds

4 Feb

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Once a year gear heads, past their prime “celebrities,” people who want to see past their prime “celebrities,” people who want to feel like they are in the music industry and creepy not-quite-successful bands looking for endorsement deals call in huge favors, make delusional demands and throw temper tantrums until they get the golden ticket, a NAMM badge. Meanwhile, everyone who actually has to work grumbles through cases of Airborne and hand sanitizer.

For non-douchers, the one shining moment between the work and the creepiness is the International Bass Player Award. Each year this ceremony becomes increasingly absurd, the talent more and more jaw dropping, and thus more and more difficult to get into.

Last year Nate Watts was honored. In addition to killer players like Stevie Wonder, Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller and JD DeServio performing, the god among men, Stanley Clarke attended. Okay, mind pretty throughly blown. This year they managed to up the ante to even more ridiculous jazz nerdery. They honored the great James Jamerson. There’s nobody on earth who wouldn’t want to be part of that, so the stage was filled with the likes of Nate Watts, James Jamerson, Jr. Glen Hughes, Will Lee, Robert De Leo, JD DeServio, Bobby & IZ Avila, Bernie Williams and a couple dozen other astonishing players. I sat there, drinking red wine, discussing Bootsy Collins with Bernie Williams between Stevie Wonder’s performances. This my dear ones is what we call WIN.

When the time came to honor Jamerson, Stevie Wonder joined Jamerson’s widow and two of his sons on stage. And when the hotel staff tried to say the show was over, Stevie marched to the keyboard and declared it wasn’t. The show went on, without Jamerson.

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