*Got a call from Ollie E. Brown (former percussionist to Stevie Wonder and Rolling Stones/producer for Janet Jackson and a host of music icons) inviting me to the NAMM music fest in Anaheim. I was not thrilled about the long drive from the East Valley down to the Disneyland area, but I must say I always wanted to go. So, I took out the flats and put the stilettos in a Vichy bag…just in case I needed to go into fly girl mode and off I went. Enroute, I stopped to pick up my photog V.R. to capture highlights on film and report to my EURweb readers.
Well, from the time of arrival it was meet the stars. Immediately trekking to the Anaheim Convention Center I ran into percussionist Paris Escovedo (as in the son of Coke Escovedo and Sheila E’s cousin!!!???) and his significant Brenda before even hitting the door. He invited me to see his show at 5PM at the John Lennon Theatre stage set up on the premises and I promised to be there. Upon entering inside the Anaheim Convention Center I spotted famed music producer Patrice Rushen who I hadn’t seen in years and just when I turned my head there was Bootsy Collins in the flesh dressed with wild colors and his famed whacked out eye glasses in the company of his extensive entourage. Bootsy was quite a sight as he made his rounds at the convention center at foot soldier’s double quick step causing a sensation as he passed. I instructed my photog to capture the shot and like lightening, it was snap crackle and pop that Bootsy shot.
From there we were scheduled to meet up with Ollie E. Brown at the Monster Cable booth, but on the way I kept running into so many friends including drummer Victor Orlando who bears an uncanny resemblance to the late Richard Pryor, which was slowing the process of meeting up with Ollie’s trekkie crew. If you are not familiar with Victor, he is a bad (shut yo’ mouth) Latin percussionist.
In case I haven’t answered the question as to what is NAMM (??) it is a huge music conference/fest where music accessory companies and music instrument makers display their latest wares to the public and retailers. Music lovers fly in from all over the world to attend and see the latest music electronic gizmos. Many celebrities are invited down and they get free equipment. For instance I ran into Verdine White (of Earth Wind and Fire). Upon his appearance at a booth, he was given a guitar valued in the thousands. I couldn’t believe my eyes!!! There are many displays and photo opps with major music stars. Long time friend Paul Jackson Jr. famed jazz guitarist and seen on Jay Leno The Tonight Show, was a special guest at one booth.
At the Monster Cable booth, pretty model Bianca Renee’ was busy posing for photogs wearing a high tech ear phone set, to the satisfaction of owner Noel Lee. He was smiling at all the media attention. All press is undoubtedly good for biz. Showcasing is what it’s all about throughout NAMM which by the way was packed to the rafters. It was like Grand Central station magnified.
I must have walked five miles easily, around and around capturing the shows, the displays, the stars and handing out business cards. Stevie Wonder was there too, mobbed by photographers. It was difficult trying to see him; I glimpsed only the top of his head.
Everything shuts down at NAMM about 6PM but shoppers are hard pressed to go and in spite of warning blinking lights, everyone still stayed till about 7PM when security started making rounds to usher everyone out. But, I learned the best place to be, is at the exit at closing time where everyone is coming out, that’s when you see all the music celebs, at which point I ran into Little Phillip (Phillip Bailey’s son). Good grief, I only know him as Little Phillip. The last time I saw him he was about nine years old running around on the set of a music video I did with his father entitled “I Know.” Today, he’s obviously late twenties; I hope he wasn’t embarrassed by me calling him Little Phillip.
I did keep my promise to Paris Escovedo and caught his show which was a smash. Those Escovedos can beat out the drum for sure. Paris was a smash. I couldn’t help busting some salsa moves and roll my rrr’s like a saucy Latina, as I watched him and his band.
What a great time, but, I had not eaten since the day before because I was ripping and rushing and my stomach was starting to make strange bippity bop sounds and my poor feet, especially the back of the ankles were blistered from all the walking. They were begging for mercy. I did try wearing the stilettos for a hot flash, but took those corn makers off within minutes.
Well, NAMM was quite a show, so glad I went, but can’t say, that I’ll repeat. It will take a year for my feet to recover. The following night at the MLK celebration at Athena’s in the San Fernando Valley, I showed up with double band aids taped to the back of my ankles but that’s another story for the books. Stay tuned. Kleo out! Rrrrrrrrr upa!
Eugenia Wright is a former actress turned columnist/publicist. You may write to her at [email protected]
All photos: Vinni Ratcliff