Big Ears Festival 2018

This was my first time attending the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, but it won’t be the last. I was initially drawn to the possibility of seeing Stian Westerhus live, but unfortunately, though originally announced, he was unable to participate. I decided to go anyway, excited to see Nels Cline with Jenny Scheinman’s Mischief and Mayhem, Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. My wife Liz and I had been talking about visiting Knoxville for a long time, so the stars seemed to align.

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NAMM 2018

NAMM 2018 was even bigger than last year, yet much more manageable. The brand new ACC (Anaheim Convention Center) North building  housed most of the high tech and pro audio stuff, allowing guitars and related products to be centralized in one area on the main floor of the original building. NAMM further reduced the spread by offering the new boutique manufacturers—previously relegated to downstairs Hall E—smaller, more affordable booths in the main guitar product ghetto. Thus, I was able to cover the show in two relaxed, rather than three grueling, days.

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The new AAC North building

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Guitar Moderne Record Picks XI

I am trying desperately to catch up with all the terrific music being brought to my attention. Here is a wide spectrum of interesting modern guitar, including a pair of solo recordings from Bill Frisell: one new and one you may have overlooked—I had.

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Electro-Harmonix Slammi Plus Polyphonic Pitch Shifter/Harmony Pedal

Because the world can always use another pitch-shifting pedal, Electro-Harmonix introduces the Slammi Plus Polyphonic Pitch Shifter/Harmony Pedal (price TBA) featuring glitch-free pitch shifting over a +/- three octave range and with the ability to transpose up, down, or both simultaneously. Housed in a more pedalboard-friendly housing than the original Slammi, it offers an 11-position Shift switch selects the transposition interval starting with Detune for a chorus or doubling effect and includes the following: Minor 2nd, Major 2nd, Minor 3rd, Major 3rd, Perfect 4th, Perfect 5th, Major 6th, 1 Octave, 2 Octaves and 3 Octaves. The pedal’s Dual Mode outputs two separate pitch-shifted intervals simultaneously and provides 11 unique interval combinations. The Slammi Plus also features an X-Fade function where the pitch shifted interval is fixed (does not bend) and the pedal cross-fades between the player’s dry note and pitch shifted note or cross-fades from one pitch shifted interval to another.

 

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