It was a NAMM good time
In previous years we have told you the history of
the International Music Merchants Association (NAMM)
and educated you on what the organization does and
how it affects the entire music industry, as well as
children's education, senior health and more. If
you're new to all that, then please go to our
archives and do some reading-- you'll be surprised.
For those familiar with the annual Southern
California convention, here's a look at what made it
such a NAMM good time!
The displays usually do not change remarkably from
year to year, as equipment and instruments can only
be shown in so many ways, but there were a few
The Ernie Ball booth is always a crowd-pleaser and
this time 'round it didn't fail to thrill. The
salesmen were all dressed as bikers, complete with
tattoos and roadrash, while there was a scattering
of custom bicycles and motorcycles on display. The
back part of the booth had been turned into a
roadhouse with a stern motorcycle cop guarding its
swinging doors. It was tough to concentrate on the
new merch being shown with all those purty bikes!!
Jones Soda shared a booth with Ashdown Engineering,
which had two cute girls seated atop a stack of amps
greeting passersby with chocolates. Smushy (Ryan
Fannin) of Street Marketing was plying Jones'
tattoos, stickers and postcards. I attempted to call
his bluff by saying that I would proudly wear a
tattoo if he would put it near my cleavage and he
grinned. A wet paper towel appeared and Smushy
gently applied a tattoo in a most gentlemanly manner
while trying not to blush too much. He then handed
me and Dave a couple of cold sodas for the road.
Yes, I wore the tattoo all day... and for the next
two days... those darn things stay on through soap
and water (but I finally tried my secret tattoo
removal trick and it worked- sorry Smushy!).
Two beauties manned-- or rather womanned the Body
Glove booth with finesse. Dressed in fitting girly
tees, short skirts and suede boots, the perky gals
were pleased to pose for photos or take the time to
chat with anyone who paused in their vicinity. I
convinced Dave that he needed a memento from NAMM
and that a photo with the dynamic duo would be just
the thing. His normal confidence waned as he stood
between the two, but he somehow managed a grin just
the same. Geez, Dave, it's OK to have a little fun
while you're working!!
There was other adventures to be had, you just had
to look for them. I spoke with many interesting
people and eyed the latest stuff to hit the streets
until I was ready for a good nap!
I've heard it said that clothes make the man, well
the NAMM show is certainly one big fashion show. It
seems that it usually ranges from those who don't
care who sees them and blend into any crowd to those
who scream to be seen and dress as outrageously as
possible and then there's tons of black clothes with
even more black clothes in between.
One of the most sadly amusing attires spotted during
the day was of the look at me category. A rather
normal appearing guy with pasty skin, thinning hair
and a goatee had decided to become the leather king.
He had snakeskin-style leather pants, snakeskin
boots, a black shirt opened to reveal a white
T-shirt and he topped the affaire with a long black
leather duster and a black cowboy hat. Perhaps there
was some spaghetti western event up the street and
he got lost... perhaps not... I noticed him trying
to chat up any pretty girl at a booth and attempting
to gain attention pounding out some vague rhythms at
a drum booth (sans duster and shirt which was a
definite step up on the fashion scale).
Another lost soul was a cute-figured Asian woman who
looked as if she couldn't quite make up her mind
when she dressed that day. She had a casual
long-sleeved T-shirt topped with a worn denim jacket
and a guitar (or was it just a soft case acting as a
purse?) flung over her back-- so far, so good. To
this, she added red and white striped tights, orange
hightop sneakers and a fairy-length light purple
tutu and had pulled portions of her hair into two
ponytails atop her head. The ensemble may have
worked had she stuck with one or two colors, but the
mix of fabrics and hues was just manic. And then she
turned around-- her face looked tired and aging, but
the real shock was her bright blue eyeshadow and
really red lipstick. Her makeup was so bold that I
could see it clearly from quite a distance away...
need I say more?
Then there was the zebra guys. I dunno, maybe it's
some kind of new cult or a band trying to gain
attention. The guys were dressed pretty normal
rocker/goth style with spikey, yet hanging longish
hair and they had painted any part of their bodies
which showed with white and black makeup in zebra
stripes. As the day wore on, so did their makeup,
which transmuted from clear lines to more of a dirty
smudge. The strangest thing was that they never
seemed to be in one place all together, instead you
would see one going one direction, while another one
was at a booth. You would think the zebra guys would
have traveled in a herd for protection ... from the
wondering looks and stifled giggles.
NAMM, as always, was a revolving door of musicians.
It would be hard to list them all, so I will stick
with some of the more interesting gatherings.
A small crowd was garnering autographs from drummers
Raymond Herrera of Fear Factory and Rocky Gray of
Evanescene. The two seemed to get along, although
they were as night and day as they appeared.
Long-locked Herrera spoke easily, while stream-lined
haircut Gray grinned nervously as he talked. Still,
they seemed happy to oblige everyone with a
signature and a few kind words.
A great pairing was that of guitarists Craig Goldy
and George Lynch. They smiled for cameras, whipped
their pens across photos and took a genuine interest
in their fans. But the most notable part was their
respect and enthusiasm for each other. The booth
where they were perched was more akin to a favorite
hangout to swap stories and greet old friends.
If you peeked into the roadhouse at Ernie Ball, you
would have seen a meeting of the musical minds. It
was lunchtime for Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Michael
Schenker and a few other guitarists, who were
enjoying the break from the roar of NAMM. Tres kewl!
Over at the Dean Markley booth a crush of fans
waited in long lines to get autographs from the
entire Ronnie James Dio band. Over the years
Dio has consistently been in large demand at NAMM.
Seated with Dio was guitarist Craig Goldy, bassist
Rudy Sarzo, drummer Simon Wright, and keyboardist
Dave Navarro snuck into the Paul Reed Smith booth
on Friday to sign a few autographs and attend a
press conference with Carlos Santana and Mark Tremonti
celebrating the 20th anniversary of PRS guitars.
Other sightings included Beefcake the Mighty from
Gwar, Tommy Shaw, guitarist Alvin
Lee, Kerry King of Slayer, Jim Marshall and a role