Last Friday night we attended the 27th Annual TEC Awards at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA to see which companies won top honors for their technological innovations in professional audio and sound design.
OK, we might have really been there to see honoree Steve Vai accept his prestigious Les Paul Award, presented each year to a musician whose work exemplifies the “highest standards of excellence in the creative application of recording technology.” The Les Paul Foundation sponsors the Les Paul Award.
OK, we might have REALLY been there to hear Vai wail on guitar after receiving his prestigious Les Paul Award (this IS the NAMM Show, after all. We like music, too). It doesn’t matter. We were there. We had the wine, cheese and a rather tasty crab dip on crackers. We thought presenter duo Lisa Loeb and Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen made an unexpectedly charming couple. Bootsy Collins strolled onstage to present right after his gig at the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus birthday party outside. And we want more Weird Al Yankovich at awards shows… not that we attend a lot of awards shows. But when we do, we hope Weird Al is there. Other presenters included Eddie Kramer, Bernie Williams, Russ Paul, David Angress and Billy Sheehan.
We saw a lot of gear, some of which was so industry-specific we didn’t quite relate (congrats, Radial Engineering WR8 Workhorse for your big win in the Signal Processing Technology/Hardware category). And we saw some wins in categories that were a little more relatable (good job on that Best in Television Sound Production nab, Saturday Night Live).
Vai received the Les Paul Award for his continuing technological innovations in music. In 1985 he worked with Ibanez to design his signature “Jem” guitar, which boasted features never before seen in the industry. He also developed the first commercial 7 string guitar with Ibanez, teamed with Carvin Corporation to develop a series of Legacy amplifiers and has contributed innovative ideas to dozens of equipment manufacturers worldwide.
After a humble speech in which he expressed his thanks and shared some funny stories, Vai took the stage with bassist Billy Sheehan, guitarists Orianthi, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Will Lee on vocals to rip through several tunes.
You can see the complete list of TEC Award 2011 winners here.
About the NAMM Show
The NAMM Show is one of the largest music products trade shows in the world. It is hosted by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and is attended each year by musical instrument manufacturers, retailers, associates and their invited guests from around the world. The NAMM Show is not open to the public. For more information, visit namm.org.