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Business In Brum

A Bacon's eye view of the AMI show


A lot of talk preceded the trek to Birmingham for the British Music Fair, which took place at the city's National Exhibition Centre from May 14th to May 18th, and doubtless a lot of talk will follow as illustrious members of the musical instrument industry ponder the value to them of such shows.

As far as MUSIC UK is concerned, speaking as it does for the musician who wants more public shows like this, the event was a distinct success, with dealers, too, allowed into the shebang this time. Whether you reckon this show was in the wrong place, or at the wrong time, or with the wrong companies showing their stuff, the fact that it happened at all is an encouraging sign that the oft-faltering industry is at least making some attempts to do good things.

Ibanez, on the large Summerfield stand.

Premier needed their large stand to get on so many kits and even more people.

Interesting product on the Ohm stand.

The venue was great — and from the trade's point of view it must even have a lot of advantages over some of the classier American exhibition centres. Certainly the NEC has the facility to contain much larger shows than the 1982 British Music Fair (as it does, of course). Is it naive to ask why the British Music Fair couldn't be on a parallel in size and influence with the huge Frankfurt Musikmesse held each winter in West Germany? If Birmingham proved anything, it was that the facilities exist into which larger shows can expand. One obstacle, of course, is the London bias, based to some extent on common sense, and to some extent on geographical chauvinism.

But enough of these ramblings — you want to know what the show was like, because you were stuck in the basement rehearsing with Riff Cliche and The Three Chord Tricksters while we were having fun in Brum, right? Professional music-show-browsers claimed that there was little new product that had not been espied at other recent shows, but there was enough to keep my Monday visit pretty happy.


A rare opportunity to see the full Martin range.

Cymbals & Percussion — the stand was always busy.

Canary, Gordon Smith and much more on Keith Hand's stand.

And it was good to see a reasonable core of British exhibitors at this British Music Fair, including the impressive guitar-making triumvirate of Eccleshall, Manson and Hiscox, amplification from Carlsbro, H/H and Ohm, the old faithful Premier drum company, and new face MTR, who seemed to have just about everything you could stick a jack into. Brits don't seem quite so dynamic when it comes to keyboards, though I did bump into the ebullient Adrian Wagner wandering around, who told me that he's now operating under the aegis of Wasp Synthesisers Ltd from the old Oxfordshire HQ. Perhaps the most inventive and far-reaching of British instrument makers over the last few years has been Dave Simmons — his electronic drums were even to be seen with Jim Keltner on the recent Ry Cooder tour — but Dave was nowhere to be seen at Birmingham. S'pose you can't have everything.

What else took my fancy? The new Soundmaster drum machine looks rather fab — you'll remember the review of the SR88 in MUK no 4. The new ST305 (distributors Strings and Things seemed keen on calling it logically the SR99, but it was not to be) has the advantage over the 88 of more programmable voices and an individual volume and separate output socket per voice, all for £124.95. Definitely worth checking out if boom-boom-thisst-thisst-chucka-chucka sounds even remotely like your bag of bananas! Meanwhile, Dave Bristow was busy falling around the Yamaha demonstration room showing off, among other things, a wind-driven attachment that can drive the new Yamaha Casio-copies (there, I've said it). You don't fart into this thing, you stick it into your mouth and blow it, thus requiring a certain skill with what wind players call 'embouchure', but producing a voltage that cheers up the mini-synths no end. Dave made it sound good, anyway.


'Trying out a Teisco' on the J.H.S. stand.

Westone, with so much to choose from.

Schecter — on the busy Chandler stand.

New guitars to these shores were Dean, who seem to base most of their marketing on trite, sexist ads at home in the US of A, and the electric Daions, which regular readers will know are now being distributed in the UK by Peavey, along with some of the familiar acoustic models previously handled by Rosetti.

Lastly, I pulled into the Rose-Morris stand and was confronted by a fair barrage of what marketing people just lurve to call 'new product', but which in R-M's case was definitely in the plural. There's roundback Ovations with cutaways — (see more details about these new models elsewhere in the News section) think about it — in four different model types; the newly acquired electric-acoustics from Takamine; some new models in the Eko range; a new Korg electronic piano or two; and some suavely packaged US-made Vox bass and guitar strings. Something for almost everyone.

That's about that then — there was plenty more there, of course, but these were the highlights of my day trip. I happened to pick up a strange magazine on my way through the press office, something called 'Crescendo' which claimed to be 'the musicians' magazine'. I'll leave you with this thought from their review of another recent musical instruments show: 'We have only to watch TV to realise that the pop music scene is more visual than aural. Of course, everyone to his taste — fine, as long as it is regarded as pure entertainment... and it is not compared with the efforts of the scholarly young musician who is trying to improve his art form.'

I don't know what gave me the headache, the Music Show or reading that!

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Music UK - Copyright: Folly Publications


Music UK - Aug 1982

Show Report by Tony Bacon

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