Hey, all y’all! I hope this post finds you well and enjoying the beginning of the new year. I am in between trips, having just returned from the 2012 NAMM show, and preparing for a trip cross-country back to California, albeit this time to the northern part of the state. NAMM was a wild ride, as always, but also very successful and a lot of fun. Let me tell you about it.
I finally got to meet my good friend John Montagna face to face. While that may seem weird, it really isn’t in my world. I have a lot of music business friends that I’ve never met, and yet we are very close. I met many of them through business, and maintained a relationship with them via phone and email. John is one of those people, and we’ve been close for many years. When I made the decision to go to the NAMM show, I felt it best to room up with someone to save money. And John was the first one I called.
John and I coordinated our flights to arrive at LAX late Thursday night. We arrived within a half hour of each other, grabbed our rental car and headed to Anaheim. Although we were both very tired (at 2 am), we went directly to the IHOP just down the street for some food and conversation. Back at the room, I shot a short bit of video, then we hit the pillows at about 4.
Eight O’clock came a lot sooner than I wanted, but there was nothing for it but to stand under a cold shower to wake up. After a bit more video, we headed off to the show. Many thanks to Brian Barrett of The Low End for helping me with a badge. Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to attend. After getting our badges from Will Call, we stood in the looooooong line for entrance. Not to worry, though. The NAMM staff was as efficient as ever, and we were inside within ten minutes of opening.
We had barely set foot on the show floor when we saw another close friend, Polo Jones. It was the perfect way to begin the show. After a good hang with Polo, John and I began walking the floor. We spent much of this day together, hopping from one booth to the other, and meeting a ton of people. By the time 5:00 came around, we were both about dead on our feet, so we headed back to the room before the rush.
After taking time to rest our tired feet, John set up his mobile recording station to begin our sessions for his podcast, Radio 418. What was supposed to be an hour of yakking turned into almost two hours, and weren’t even close to being done. The only reason we stopped was so we could head to San Pedro to meet up with Sean O’Bryan Smith and hear his new band Polcat. Before the show, however, we grabbed an amazing burger at the 710 Grill – where they offered beef, buffalo, ostrich, elk, turkey and veggie burgers. John had a concoction dubbed The Mess – and it was messy! – while I chose the Elk burger. Both were awesome, but also really, really big! So we were pretty slow to roll after dinner.
Alva’s Showroom was just down the block, and we met up with Sean in plenty of time to have a nice hang before his show. Now, for me, fusion is a hit or miss thing. I love some of it, but some of it just leaves me quite unmoved. Knowing Sean, I figured this would be in the first category, and I was not disappointed. Polcat SLAMS! They blasted through an hour of some of the tightest stuff I’ve heard in ages. I could see why Sean is so excited about being a part of this one.
Afterwards, we drove back to the hotel and dived into bed about 2 am. This was to be our longest night of sleep for the trip. And boy did I need it!
We were up at 8 again on Saturday, and ready to go far more quickly than I expected. That gave us time to grab coffee at the hotel’s coffee shop. I grabbed some video, then we headed back to the show. This time around, John and I split up, so we could each make it to all of the vendors we needed to see. I managed to see everyone I had on my list – LJ and Pat at LM Products (straps), Rosa Daza at DR Strings, John Norris at Peterson Tuners, Barry Heid at Manhasset Stands, plus several companies with which I hope to build a relationship. (No, I can’t tell you which ones yet. Let’s wait and see what happens, OK?)
I also got to see a lot of friends, many of whom I didn’t even know were going to the show. One of them was Johnny O, and incredible drummer I only get to see when I’m at NAMM. Although we only see each other once a year (or less), we’re very close, and we love to work together. We caught up just as he was preparing to leave, but he stuck around for over an hour, so we could catch up with each other.
Late in the afternoon, John and I reconnected at the Spector Artist Hang. Instead of doing signings throughout the show, PJ Rubal and the crew decided to invite all the artists to a single event. And it was AWESOME!! I got to meet several of my Spector brothers, including Rex Brown of Pantera fame. Other notable meets included Nicki Tedesco and her husband, Aalics Bronson, and Ra Diaz. Aalics and Ra had connected with me on Facebook, but we had never talked except wall to wall, so it was really cool to have time to hang with them. I got to jam with both of them, which was a blast! Unfortunately, although Nicki really wanted to jam, we weren’t able to do it, because she had disappeared by the time I could get a seat at the amp. We’ve promised to do it at the next show, however, and I’m really looking forward to it.
After the show, John and I had dinner with his friend Tommy, and a good long conversation about all things Beatles. Geez, both of them were virtual encyclopedias of information, and they went on forever. I stepped outside for a quick smoke, and when I came back, they had kicked it into overdrive. I just shook my head and asked, “did you guys do some Beatles heroin while I was gone or what?”
From there, Jon and I headed back to the hotels immediately adjacent to the Anaheim Convention Center. Basically, we were just killing time before my appointment with Patrick Stern – the wizard behind the Spector Bass and Spector Central web sites. Patrick has been extremely supportive, and has done a lot for me already. But he wanted to get an interview with me for the My Spector Story video series. It was pretty late when we arrived – almost 11 – and John was beat. So he snoozed while I taped the interview. I’m sure we got way too much video, and Patrick will have to edit it down a LOT!
By the time we got back to the room, it was almost 2 am, so we only got about an hour and a half of sleep before we had to get up and head to the airport for early flights. We arrived in plenty of time for John to catch his flight, and I had a couple of hours to kill, which was interesting. I so wanted to sleep again, but was afraid to for fear of missing my flight. I managed to stay awake until we boarded, at which point I fairly passed out. I had a long layover in Atlanta and was once again faced with the challenge of staying awake until the flight. Thankfully, I kept myself busy enough that I didn’t notice how tired I was.
I got to my hotel about 10 pm, and was under the covers as quickly as I could manage. And that brings us to the end of my trip. Looking back, it was a huge success, and I’m really glad I went to the show. Since I haven’t do so yet, let me try to remember everyone I saw:
Polo Jones, Bryan Beller and his lovely wife Kira Small, Peter Davyduck, Alex Harrington, Johnny O, Angeline Saris, Gretchen Menn, Bobby Vega, Rocco Prestia, Nicki Tedesco, Aalics Bronson, Ra Diaz, Rex Brown, Sean O’Bryan Smith, Joe Sanchez, Matt Harington, Rev Jones, and I know I’m leaving several people out. Not because I don’t care… but because I can’t remember them all!
I have included a few pictures and the video I put together, and will soon post the photo gallery. But they don’t show half of what occurred. It’s just so hectic that I couldn’t always get photos or video. I didn’t always have a lot of time with different folks and I didn’t want to waste it fumbling with a camera. But I hope you do get some sense of the excitement.
I’ve got to close this out so I can tackle my long list to To-Dos for the next trip. I only have about a day and a half to complete a six day list. I’ll post an update once I get to California. And get some sleep. LOTS of sleep! Until then,
PS – if you have pictures from the show, please email them to me, so I can include them in the photo gallery. Thanks! – LB
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