JANUARY 31st, 2014

Photography/Review By: Char Tupper
Images from NAMM: http://www.metaltitans.com/concert-pics-2014/namm-show-2014/

NAMM, The National Association of Music Merchants Convention, where do I even begin? The biannual convention held in Anaheim, California at the Anaheim Convention centre is the “land of the heavens” for most, if not all musicians around the world from metal to country, rock-n-roll to hip hop, all genres were represented. There are 2 NAMM conventions, one late January and one in July for summer also. The convention is filled with all range of instruments from the obvious guitars, bass, drums, but featuring unique instruments like harps, ukulele, and so much more. Everything and Anything you can imagine that is required for instruments, it is here! The NAMM Show is a trade-only event and not open to the public, however visitor passes were available to purchase, however very limited. Musicians, companies, visitors, sponsors , buyers, a whole range of people from across the globe are here and ready to embrace what NAMM 2014 has to offer and what new products are up and coming.

First day, flew down to Los Angeles and got to meet the superb NAMM Cab, Don, I was recommended his services as a cab driver, and let me say, he is a blast and he(alongside many other friends) gave me all the best tips and information before heading into Day 1 of the event. Day 1 for myself was none other then Media Preview Day. This was a day set aside for media to explore a little bit of the convention and get a sneak peak of new products to be announced at the 2014 NAMM Show, alongside performances and signings that would be taking place also. This truly was a day to walk around, meet other like-minded press, musicians, exhibitors, you name it. Cannot forget a chance to explore the food vendors that are parked outside the Convention centre, my favourite being the Viking Ship, didn’t get a chance to try it, but the theme/names behind it all, priceless. The booths weren’t fully completed so didn’t get much chance to walk around inside much, plus Media Day ended by 2pm, so personally, since I had been awake since 1am, I was definitely going to bed super early!

Jan. 23rd, it is officially the first day of the NAMM Show, and it ran until Jan 26th. Let me tell you, there is no other experience quite like NAMM. It is a fun place to see and hang out with friends you don’t get to see outside of a “concert” setting, but at the same time, you meet people who are true enthusiasts of instruments, and not just the standards either. NAMM is an event full of fun, but business also. There were a lot of seminars and demos done by many musicians who endorse the booth, for example, KORG had a performance with Jeff Kendrick and Michael Spreitzer, guitarists of Devildriver, showcase the newest features and product that KORG has to offer. Many of the booths had presentations also, like Roland, they got to present their newest line of products out in-stores by mid February of 2014. They got to showcase their newest pedals, keyboards, and much more with numerous artists/bands performing with the new product. Alongside Roland, I also got to take part in the Paul Reed Smith seminar with Mr. Paul Smith himself, who spoke to the audience about the changes over the years in their custom shop. It was a fun laid back seminar, where Paul got to play some of the newer models from Paul Reed Smith Guitars, talked about some of the humour in the industry and the fun of creating new features in their guitar line. Plus, Seymour Duncan did a special signing for Conquering Dystopia, the new creation by Jeff Loomis and Alex Webster that hasn’t announced itself yet, but a force not to be reckoned with, they will conquer! My favourite 3 exhibits most certainly had to be Schecter Guitar Research booth, ESP Guitars, and Dean Guitars. Both exhibits truly had an amazing exhibit and variety of guitars. Schecter definitely had the most fun and interesting performances and signings that kept me going back day after day. Got to watch Jeff Loomis play some of the new Conquering Dystopia material, he also explained his newest guitar made by Schecter. The overall presence of the Schecter booth was “overwhelming” for a NAMM virgin like myself. ESP definitely ran a close tie to Schecter. Performances and signings, I will say didn’t grab my attention as much as their custom shop. It most certainly left you speechless. Amazing works of art ranging from a “T-Rex” guitar, to a silhouette of an angel, and countless other breath taking designs. The creative minds behind ESP are beyond words. Plus, as a “biased” point of interest for ESP, my favourite band Behemoth was featured in the ESP booth, and seeing my Behemoth always makes me giggle with joy! Dean Guitars however, let me just say, their booth may not have had a fancy “custom shop” or a wall full of guitars, but the name alone speaks for itself. They featured the one, the only, Dimebag Darrell’s signature piece alongside a custom “Pantera” guitar. The Dean booth was nice, clean, simple, and full of gorgeous instruments to admire, and that’s saying a lot for me, considering my “instrument” is a Canon camera.

Over the course of 4 days, there is truly so much to see and do, it does add the challenge of trying to see it all. I will be honest, even running non-stop from 9am-6pm every single day, there is still no guarantee to see every single thing at NAMM. I did however see and partake in my top 10 things to do at NAMM 2014, like for instance, meeting Rob(bass) of Metallica, that was a pretty cool experience in itself, something I truly didn’t think in a million years would happen, same with meeting…..ok, be warned, this man isn’t metal, but…AJ of Backstreet Boys! That was a truly once in a lifetime moment, especially for a woman like myself who is truly 100% metal, but the 10 year old in me would have wet herself in pure excitement. I owe that 10 year old still living within me a photo with AJ !! The whole NAMM experience, you get to meet and see all kinds of musicians from all walks of genres from pop to metal, from country to rock, it is truly where you want to go if you want to feel like a total rock star for a week. My favourite experience was getting a chance to meet Piggy D from Rob Zombie. I am a huge fan of the music and getting a chance to not only see him, but meet and chat with the guy for 10 minutes or more about music, NAMM, travelling, touring. it was a true experience I won’t soon forget. I hadn’t had a “star struck” moment since I met Behemoth back in 2006. Of course, The NAMM Show may end at 6pm everyday, but after every day, there are concerts in support of NAMM, the first night had Metal Masters 5at the Anaheim House of Blues featuring Scott Ian(Anthrax), Philip Anselmo(Down/Pantera), Chuck Billy(Testament) and more took part in a collaboration clinic put on by Samson and Hartke. The 24th was the one and only Heinekin NAMM JAM featuring Jake E Lee and the Red Dragon Cartel, Periphery, and guests. Took place at the Grove of Anaheim, a gorgeous venue with excellent sound and lighting. The NAMM JAM was a killer show, a special review of the show to be featured in our “Concert Reviews” section. The last night of NAMM had the Randy Rhoads Tribute show, alongside by “invite only” the Schecter NAMM Party once again at the Grove of Anaheim, managed to get invited to the Schecter show, which had limited free Jagermeister, Stone Beer, and Coldcock whiskey, easy to say, the last night was a fun one. Performances for NAMM Party were by Black Label Society, first ever performance by Conquering Dystopia, and Kill Devil Hill. The concerts I got to experience were a lot of fun, a chance to sit back, relax and enjoy some company of new friends I had made at NAMM, while enjoying company of old friends I hadn’t seen in years!

Let me just say, NAMM was a fun-filled experience of socializing, networking, and getting to meet killer people from around the world with a common interest, music. This convention is a truly exhilarating event unlike any concert, it is a chance to meet your favourite musicians, a chance to play some of the worlds most popular instruments, a chance to get your foot in the door of this crazy, yet fun industry. If you want that “Rock star” feeling to run through your veins, but know where/how to do so? Attend the NAMM Show 2015, it will be well worth every penny! I highly recommend attending for any kind of networking, business opportunities, you name it, NAMM can make it happen. If your life is music, and you want to make your dreams of living in this chaotic industry happen, go check out the biannual NAMM Show.

Check out the links for NAMM 2015 information: