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Namm, Make it Count

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Namm, Make it Count



The Monday morning after NAMM, as I sat behind my desk at my day job, I figured out that I was suffering from what I call “Astronaut’s Syndrome” — you know, the feeling those moonwalkers must get when they return from their adventures in outer space: Sure, they come back down to earth, but everyday life from that point forward must seem, well, just a little bit dull. So, as I went through the motions of my typically ordinary day, I fondly reminisced about this year’s stellar NAMM show and thought to myself, “Now what?!” Every year,
the landing seems to get a little harder as I come back down to earth from NAMM.

So what’s all the buzz about the NAMM show? Well, the NAMM show is simply everything you’ve ever wanted to see, hear, touch,
and perhaps even taste about music, brought together for the largest music convention on the planet. 

Luckily for us, we don’t need to travel far from our own launching pad for this show, as NAMM (the National Association of Music Merchants) continues to dock its annual winter trade show in our own backyard of Orange County, bringing plenty of excitement, and plenty of welcomed revenue, to the massive Anaheim Convention Center and many orbiting local businesses.  The exciting four days (and nights) have something for just about anyone in the music industry.  This year, 1,441 exhibitors manned their booths  (up 2% from last year — a sure sign of a steadily recovering economy) from over 100 countries worldwide (international registration was up 15% over just last year), while nearly 96,000 registered attendees (an impressive 6% increase over last year) traversed the more than one million square feet of the 110th annual winter NAMM trade show.

This year, NAMM challenged its members to “Make it Count”, something nearly every exhibitor seemed to strive to do, as they did their best to attract the attention of the countless retailers and distributors from all over the globe. And regardless of the quieter displays put on by the various violin makers or sheet music printers in attendance, it was clear that noise was one of the ways many exhibitors attracted that attention, judging by the many booth holders whose own amps were cranked well past the posted 85 dB sound-limit, risking a visit and possible citation by NAMM’s own Sound Control police (an irony not lost on me).

Fueled with energy, NAMM 2012 blasted off with its classic displays,  as well as brand new technology (check out all the new iPad/iPhone applications that allow you to do everything from practice your guitar with thousands of cyber effects, to actually playing a trumpet without ever having touched one).

Everywhere we turned, there was something interesting. In between stops at the Pearl drum booth and my pilgrimage (twice) to guitar maker Rickenbacker to see (well, more like ogle) their art-museum quality guitar bodies, we were happy to see the enthusiasm from vendors and buyers alike. And while we were exploring, we were honored several times as some of our own readers stopped us, one of whom sat down at the Taylor Guitars booth and strummed along with me while I gave it my rookie best.

Fortunately for everyone, though, the real musicians descend upon NAMM. This year, we caught a master class by the brilliant session guitarist Carl Verheyen (who is also a member of the band Supertramp), ran into Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction showcasing his own signature guitar at Epiphone, listened to a brilliant lecture by musician and producer Alan Parsons (who was nominated for a Grammy in 1973 for engineering Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and got to watch Brian Wilson belt out a few classic Beach Boys tunes for
Gibson guitars.

What a galaxy of great stars, as everyone from Bootsy Collins to
the legendary Jackson Browne to
the incomparable Stevie Wonder were on hand, all of them on a mission to ensure that the music industry flourishes.

And if you really want to hear great music — there are always plenty of opportunities. One night, we attended a very heavy metal concert at the nearby Grove of Anaheim which included the performers Vinnie Moore, Wayne Static, and the 80s band Testament.  Another night, blues guitar virtuoso Joe Bonamassa captivated his audience as he and many other artists helped guitar and string maker Ernie Ball celebrate their 50th year in business.  No matter who you are or what music you enjoy, there’s always something amazing to witness live
at NAMM.

But as we all know, everything that goes up must soon come down.  So as the last of the cargo was packed back in crates, and all the exhibitors left for their home bases, I had to accept that it was time to go back to my regular life. And although NAMM 2012 came and went as quickly as a comet, at least I can look forward to next year, when NAMM gravitates back to Orange County for another great convention.

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