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Well, It’s Been a Year Now…

My daughters like to tease me that I use a few too many ellipses in my texts and emails. “Oh yeah, dad, he’s king of the ellipses,” Jesse once said to Molly over a reuniting-at-the-holidays dinner. (Remember those?) We all had a good laugh; I have seven brothers and four sisters. I can take a ribbing. Then I said something to the effect of, “Whaaaaaat? I love ellipses. They can mean so many things.” We laughed more.

Well, to be clear, the ellipsis in the title means: “Are you frickin’ kidding me? This is still going on? I want to go out and see music, have a pint, fly to New York! I want my friends back at work! I want to wake up to good news some day soon! Come on, vaccine, do your stuff! I am done with staring at a screen all day, every day! I want to go sit down in PMC’s Atmos mix room in L.A., listen to what’s been going on! I want to quit worrying about whether my two favorite nearby restaurants are going to close! I want to drive up to Skywalker Sound and interview Ren Klyce in person! I want to hang with my daughters and see them smile in real time, no mask!”

Okay, I got that out of my system. I’m an optimist, for goodness sake!

It’s just gotten to the point that I’ve given up trying to predict when and how things will become normal again, to the point that sometimes I find myself drifting into the future, wondering how I will look back and remember these past 12 months. When I do, I realize that while it has been maddening and uncertain, full of loss and a constant drip of anxiety, it hasn’t all been bad. Most of it, sure. But the human spirit has amazing resiliency, with an amazing capacity for adaptation and workarounds.

A therapist might tell me that I’m feeling reflective because NAMM is coming up, and for the first time in nearly 30 years, I won’t be going to Anaheim. I’ve said it before: NAMM 2020, it turns out, was my last big hurrah, my last big event/gathering/social/industry extravaganza before Covid-19 shut the world down. 

I guess that in February I did attend an outdoor celebration at a bayside brewery for Sarah Jones and a lot of the old Mix gang. Then in March, while being somewhat cautious but not yet fully aware, I took a tour of the new Coast Mastering in Berkeley, and after that, the facility’s owner, Michael Romanowski, and I were having some fish and chips at the Kensington Circus Pub on the night that the NBA canceled its first games and  Tom Hanks called in from Australia to say that he and his wife were in quarantine. The next day, everything changed.

And now here I am again, never imagining back then that the Recording Academy would have to shift the 2021 Grammy Awards from January to March at the last minute. Or that I would be attending my next NAMM virtually, with product releases and musical performances alike coming at me via Zoom or one of its many cousins. 

Still, I’m excited for NAMM 2021 Believe in Music Week, to see how the show performs online in the wake of CES and countless other trade shows these past six months. What have we learned? What are the possibilities? Could you hear the artists? 

Like it or not, the virtual show and/or performance will be with us for a while now, growing and evolving into something more than just a workaround, but something that imparts information or entertainment in some hybrid way that builds on the in-person experience and expands outreach. Yes, shows will be back. But virtual will be there, too. That’s a positive thing.

Record-making, too, is coming back in many and varied hybrid ways. Andrew Watt, our cover artist this month, doesn’t seem to have slowed down much. And here at Mix we’ve received countless announcements of creative projects being done within limited frameworks. Television has exploded, and backed-up movie releases will start finding their way to larger in-person audiences and a wider reach through streaming services. These can be positive things.

And we’re all praying for a summer boost in touring and concert sound production. Lord knows, the whole world needs it, none more than the talented artists, crews, backline techs, venue operators, rental companies, manufacturers, promoters and parking attendants.

Better days are coming. I can feel it in the air. And I’m counting on looking back at 2021 some day in the future and remembering that it was sometime in mid-January when the mood started to change, when the virus started to be tamed, when the ellipsis started to fade away, one dot at a time.