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Gibson Guitars are back in full force at NAMM, and kicked off the annual event with a blitz of six-string shooters at the City National Grove in Anaheim.   Hosted by Actor John Stamos, the iconic guitar maker brought a showcase of their best along with some of their youngest superstars.  CEO James “JC” Curleigh prefaced the evening noting that Gibson was overcoming past struggles keeping their brand relevant in a saturated market, and had found a new place in the industry.  They showcased young talents from kids as young as 9 year old Jayden Tatasciore as part of their youth outreach program, before moving into some of the major acts.   

Announced just prior to the show, the line-up highlighted Slash and Friends and featured a mixture of Blues and Classic Rock songs.  Highlights included Slash and Don Felder with his Double-Neck Gibson EDS-1275 playing “Hotel California”,  Lzzy Hale and Joe Hottinger from Halestorm rocking an amazing version of her song “Misery” featuring Judas Priest's Richie Faulkner thrashing the stage in every direction. Elliot Easton took the stage with Jimmy Vivino, Darrell Jones and Andy Vargas for a little “Oye Como Va”.  Marc Labelle fronted Slash, Tash Neal and Jared James Nichols for a rousing version of Aerosmith’s “Last Child”.  Billy Gibbons, Robin Zander, and Rick Nielsen jammed with Slash as they slid in for a little “Tush” and “Waiting for the Bus”.  The whole group of musicians came back for a climactic “Whole Lotta Love” fronted by Labelle.   

The lineup showcased how Gibson is focusing not only on the nostalgia of the classic brand, but also focusing introducing that brand to a whole new audience.  Showcasing Slash ties into their release of the new Slash Collection which was showcased throughout the show. The Gibson Slash Collection features four Les Paul Standard electric guitars and two J-45 Standard acoustic guitars. Inspiring multiple generations of players around the world, the Slash Collection is comprised of the most influential Gibson guitars Slash has used throughout his career.

Once again, Gibson Guitars's annual Live at the Grove event was one for the ages and highlighted just how special their brand truly is.  It was a who's who in the music industry and featured some of the most electrifying guitarists on the planet today.  From up and coming superstars like Jared James Nichols to legends like Slash, Don Felder, and Billy Gibbons, this once in a lifetime party had something for everybody and showcased Gibson's incredibly talented lineup.  The only downside to an event like this is that it has to end.  However, Gibson will surely be back in 2021 and have no doubt they their take their show (and brand) to a whole new level.


Dave Blass

Photojournalist - Toronto

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