June 2021
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Roland Centerstage

Roland Makes it Happen 1984 Winter Namm

Roland Users Group, Volume 2, Number 4

Scott Shelly and Michael Boddicker
Scott Shelly and Michael Boddicker

The western edition of the twice yearly NAMM, National Association of Music Merchants, Convention is a kaleidoscopic experience of sight and sound. It takes something special to break through the sensory overload. Roland made it happen by delivering special products in a very special show. As Tom Beckmen, President of RolandCorp US explained, "We wanted to do something outstanding in 1984, we felt that we had 32 new and sensational products that deserved a sensational show. We put together some of the best talents in Southern California from both the video and music industries. I think the results are self evident to anyone who has seen the show."

Michael Boddicker headlined a show that included state-of-the-art video, audio, and lighting support. Recent Grammy winner, Boddicker, whose recording and composition credits read like a Who's Who and What's What, showed enthusiastic crowds the powerful and beautiful music that can be generated by a performer using the latest MIDI technology.

The show was truly a multi-media event staged hourly to standing room only crowds. A three screen video presentation that used revolutionary synchronous multiple screen and computer graphics techniques was underscored by an eight track audio program. The video show gave way to the live performance by Boddicker, Roland product specialist Ike Ueno, and studio guitarist Scott Shelley.

Superman-like Dr. Rhythm spreading his cure for the rhythm blues opened the video show. The good Doctor gave way to a vision of Heavy Metalman crushing a night time L.A. with Japanese B-movie vengeance. The Play Bus crashed the garage band scene before Roland amplifiers turned into a sky-scraping city scene ala Tron. The visuals continued to evolve at an exhilarating tempo while showing the exciting developments in MIDI system technology and being urged on by an electronic score composed on and played by the instruments seen on the screen. The GR-700 culminated the video in a supernova hyperspace performance. The show was produced by Metavision, a Hollywood based video production house, under the supervison of Harry Marks from Metavision and Albert Dugas from RolandCorp US.

The audio sound track combined the talents of Frank Becker and Roland employees Jim Mothersbaugh and Mark Altekruse. Only the instruments seen on the screen were used in the composition and recording of the score. Jim Mothersbaugh also coordinated the audio and lighting for the live performance.

Ike Ueno playing the new Roland GR-700 at the Winter 1984 NAMM show
Ike Ueno playing the new Roland GR-700 at the Winter 1984 NAMM show
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Ike Ueno took the stage first after the video to demonstrate the new GR-700's capabilities. As Ueno played to the accompaniment of MSQ-700, JP-6, JX-3P, and TR-909, the crowd spontaneously applauded the disorienting experience of seeing a guitarist fingering his instrument normally, but sounding like a vintage B-3 organ, a raging solo synthesizer, and even Big Ben chimes. Ueno used many of the sixty-four sounds available on his GR-700 to keep the crowd guessing and excited.

Michael Boddicker and guitarist Scott Shelley joined Ueno to perform two Boddicker compositions. The first piece was beautifully orchestrated and began with Boddicker showing the new dynamic keyboard, the MKB-1000, and the layering possibilities of MIDI synthesizers to their best advantage. The piece, a love theme from a soon to be released movie, began with gentle swells of layered synthesizers including JX-3P, HP-400, Jupiter-6, and the new MIDI modules the MKS-10 Synthesizer and MKS-30 Electronic Piano all controlled from the MKB-1000's dynamic weighted action keyboard. Boddicker used the dynamic subtlety of the MKB-1000 to gradually build the music to a rock and roll sound level that brought in the two guitarists Shelley and Ueno.

Pulsing electronic synthesizer lines generated by the MSQ-700 and its MIDI connected instruments crashed their way into the audience as Boddicker's second number started strong and stretched and expanded itself with the fury of a hurricane. The power of Boddicker's MIDI system, Ueno's GR-700 and Shelley's GR-300, combined with a background of TR-909, MSQ-700, and Jupiter-6 seemed to stun the audience as a brief pause was needed after the crescendo ending before the extended applause began.

Michael Boddicker Turning on the crowd at NAMM
Michael Boddicker Turning on the crowd at NAMM
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For a keyboardist like Boddicker, a performance using the number of instruments played during this show usually means the artist is surrounded by stacks of instruments. The new MKB-1000 was used in such a way that all the slaved instruments were controlled from the MKB-1000's panel, so Boddicker could get on with the music at hand without resorting to the gymnastics necessitated by outdated instruments. The audience also benefited from the clean stage setup. They were able to see every move the performers made instead of having to stare at the back panel of instruments.

Between the live shows the Roland room remained crowded as people stayed to get a closer look at the instruments they had heard on stage. Roland product specialists Dan DeSouza and Mark Altekruse demonstrated the MIDI keyboard and GR-700 systems. Particularly effective were Altekruse's demonstration of the new sounds that a guitarist's unique playing techniques can bring to the world of synthesized sound, including string bending, hammer-ons, vibrato bar, voice leading, and chord voicings. DeSouza showed the performance capabilities of both the DCB system of Juno-60, JSQ-60, and TR-606 and the MIDI system of TR-909, Jupiter-6, and MSQ-700.

Bob Sexton demonstrated the versatility of the Piano Plus, PR-800 Digital Keyboard Recorder, and PB-300 Rhythm Plus system. These products constitute the world's first MIDI performance system for the home keyboard market. They offer the same interface possibilities to other MIDI instruments and computers as the other Roland MIDI in-struments do.

Roland employee J. X. Loeb was kept busy demonstrating the new BOSS products. Crowd pleasers included the Heavy Metal Pedal, Doctor Rhythm Graphic, Hand Clapper, Percussion Synthesizer, and the new BOSS digital delays the DD-2 and DE-200.

For those of you who were unable to attend NAMM, a documentary single screen video has been produced by RolandCorp US. The video will be made available to Roland dealers around the country, so get on down to your local dealer and take a look, it's a show worth seeing.