January 13-17, 2010 - Anaheim, CA
Agent 22 at the NAMM show
Whew. So much activity in four days... here's a summary (yes summary) I hope some of you will appreciate. Agent 22 played three different events during the show this year. On Wednesday night we were invited to play at one of NAMM's stages in the lobby of the Marriott's convention center skycraper style hotel. This one was quite hectic to get going with no planned change over time between acts. "Throw and Go" as Ryan calls it. The trick for me with this approach is to setup all my gear backstage first and then just lift the whole rig (racks, mixer, etc) on stage and "go." Pretty much had it together for this one, but one extra button got pressed without me catching it... so for a tune I had the output of my looper feeding back on itself... not what I intended.. but I seemed to be getting some wild phasey/grungy  feedback and just ran with it ;-) The highlight of night one for me was that Adrian Belew was hanging out in the audience with his bass player Julie Slick. I've gotten to open for them a few times in the past, but this was the longest set he's heard from us.. and he had some really nice things to say afterwards.  As his lyric writing implies, he's a great story teller and very witty. He was out to help promote his new signature series Parker guitar.. which lists for $10,000. He offered me a special deal on one.. for $9999 or my next born child. Hmmmmm........  ;-)

here we go....
NAMM night 1: Agent 22 sqeezed in among the backline

On Friday I got to check out two of Tony Levin's shows. The first was in the afternoon with "Stickmen." This was my first time hearing the group live and I quite enjoyed it. The set was a mix of new material, some things from Tony's "Stick Man" CD and a few King Crimson covers. They really take advantage of the fact that it's not necessary for them both to be playing two distinct parts at once. The result is that they can use two hands each to do things that say a solo Stick player would never tend to do. And P@t on drums.. amazing as always. His use of electronics and loops is as good as it gets. He added many nice textural bits that gave a huge stereo spread to their sound while the Sticks remained more centered in the image. He was even triggering a few Stick loops along the way! Friday night I also got to check out a Sabian show featuring Terry Bozzio, Tony Levin, David Torn and Pat Mastelotto. Before they started, Terry said hello to the crowd, thanked them for being there and then apologized saying that the group was about to throw a "wet blanket" on the evening with some really weird music. Ha! They went on to play one piece, all improv for 45 minutes. The group was very dynamic, creating "softer" moments that were quite different from the "heavier" moments. The music was definitely "out" and probably too unusual for many a NAMM attendee to compute, but it had some great moments. 

Saturday night, Agent 22 opened for the Steve Morse Band at a show in nearby San Juan Capistrano. I think I've now done about 14 or 15 shows there over the years now, but this one was one of my favorites. We did a short 30 minute set that felt pretty darn good from beginning to end and actually got a standing ovation at the end (as an opener, this is from from the norm!) Most of all we just had fun. Since we had to set up in front of the the other group's gear, we were close enough to the front of the stage that Ryan's didgeridoo was actually sticking about a foot over the edge, and right down the middle of the front table/couple. I think the people there were a little nervous at first as to what the heck we were going to do to them. I overheard Ryan explaining that it wasn't going to be very loud. They should have been more worried about the snare drum that was only maybe four feet away. We had some really nice comments from Steve and his band as well. As we were heading back to the dressing rooms, Steve stopped me and said "...you set the bar too high!" (ha! yeah, right..) and that he'd just been talking to someone about us saying "...this guys only problem is that he's too musical." Funny... but thanks Steve :)   There's a video up from the show already at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ax9mE4yAsA

with Van Romaine (L) and Steve Morse (R)

Sunday afternoon, Agent 22 played the last slot at the Sennheiser/Neumann booth. They've been featuring mostly local singer songwriters in recent years on this stage, but had a few cool acts before us, including Ricky Skaggs (who had an awesome bluegrass style guitarist with him) and a wild string quartet called the Sonus quartet. It was good to see a few other Stickist make it out to our set here, including Linda Cushma and Dave Tipton. Dave had a funny comment. He said during our set that he overheard a conversation that went: "What's that instrument he's playing?" "It's a glass didgeridoo." Ha! Well done Rymo!

Agent 22: Sennheiser demo
Agent 22: more Sennheiser demo

Like I said earlier... "whew!" And yes, that's the summary of NAMM 2010. 

Want more Tom stories and trivia? Check out the website archives for past tour diaries.

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