Winter NAMM 2019 - Anaheim, CA
So - DAY ONE - man oh man, I think I only saw *most* of *one floor* (of 3) of the massive multi-hall main building. I met lots of great people and saw lots of great products. My gracious hosts, Brubaker, are showing in “the basement” - Hall E. So I started there, before continuing up into the big hall to meet up with people and explore from there. There is simply too much to see at every turn at NAMM, but I will point out some standouts. I’ll probably put more on Instagram as well.
To start with, a cornucopia of cool finishes, especially Warwick with their Streamers:
Then there were a few whose design and/or execution were really cool or intricate - like these from Red Layer Guitars - with 3D resin suspensions and such in the bodies, super complex inlay work and more.
Couple of cool design ideas, too, like this one: Lamina guitars are like separate layers held apart by standoffs! Looks like the layers are maybe aluminum? I'll have to find out.
Let’s see, what else did I shoot that was cool...
And of course I can’t finish this out without mentioning the great people I met! Beyond the guys I met through Brubaker like Rawn and Ed, I got to meet Chris and Will from Bassic Gear Review, YouTube bassist extraordinaire Patrick Hunter, Dave Koltai of Pigtronix, Dale Krevens of Tech21, Kevin Henretta of Henretta Engineering, Lisa from Earthquaker, Penny from Reverend, the guys from ZT amps, sound engineers Thai Long Ly and Sara Glaser... I’m sure I’m missing some but my brain is friiiiiied.
Alrighty I am running out of steam. Goodnight and hasta manana, people!
DAY TWO I finally went upstairs to see the big guns. I’m not a super fanboi of Fender and Gibson, but I enjoy some of their stuff, and my Dad is a hardcore Gibson guy (mostly)...
Nice to see some of the old brands still kicking around under the bigger umbrellas - Jackson has Charvel, Gibson’s got Steinberger and Kramer...
More randomocity from day2.....
Day 2 concluded with a quick jaunt over to Costa Mesa, to meet up with some people that Kevin knows, including bassist John Irvine of the band LMT Connection, out of Niagara (the Canada side!). They played 2 sets at The Boathouse, a nice little gastro-pub thing that boasted good beer and incredible food. But the real highlight was the music. John, drummer Mark and lead singer/guitarist Leroy absolutely KILLED IT. Now, this should come as no surprise since they’ve been playing their funk/jazz/blues/soul brew together for over 3 decades, but it still needs to be said loudly and proudly, in my humble opinion. Special thanks to our hosting party including Judy, Ted, Jane and Sam, Jeff and Dawn.
Oops, I almost forgot to post what might be my favorite bass of the show, which I found on day 2 - it's a bass version of the Vox Starstream. Funky body style with detached wings, short 30" scale in both 4- and 5-string configurations, fretted and fretless. The prototypes at NAMM were active with Aguilar preamps and there was even a headless version, but the rep said the production models would be headed and passive. I just loved this thing; there was just something about it.
Propping my exhausted self up on the morning of Day Three, which would be my last since my flight would be too early on Sunday for me to attend the 4th day, I told myself that it would be an easier day, a day where I just went a few places to catch the last remnants I hadn’t seen earlier in the week. I was mostly successful in that endeavor, but with a big crazy boost at the end - stay tuned! Meanwhile...
Would you say Ibanez had a plethora of colorful things on display? Taste the rainbow:
Ritters and Marcos and Stradis, oh my!
More photos of interesting things from the day...
So here is where the day gets more interesting than I'd expected:
As the day was coming to a close, this big guy, Mike, comes over to the booth in a little bit of a hurry, saying he needs a bass quickly for Bakhiti. That's Bakhiti Kumalo, bass legend who's played with Paul Simon for ages, among other things. BK is behind the larger man, and I didn't initially see him there. The need for the bass, it turns out, is that Bakhiti is slated to play one of the new module-equipped Brubakers at Gruv Live, a bass and drum bash type event across town in Orange, and he needs to be there soon for soundcheck.
So, we were all invited to Gruv Live, which was a surprise to me! Kevin went with Mike and Bakhiti; Rawn and I grabbed an Uber, and when we arrived I thought aha, now this has the trappings I'd expect from an LA party (chuckling to myself). I mean there's the red carpet area with the wall-of-logos, the outdoor area with a supercar randomly posted up in the middle (a Fisker Karma, in this case) - there was even an 18-wheeler food truck from In-N-Out doing the catering.
Inside I met another bass great, young funkmeister Thundercat. Genuinely nice dude; I didn't want to bother him with a photo op, but I just had to get a picture of his custom Coke kicks. Solid soda selection, son.
The show started out with a couple of really young dudes on bass and drums. I mean like 7 years old or something. It was great. I took a short video of all the people in front of me holding their phones up and over to get a look because they were so small on stage that nobody in the floor crowd could see them!
As the evening continued, though, something went amiss with the scheduling and it turned out that Bakhiti was no longer going to play the gig. After all, it was approaching 9pm and he was supposed to be on at 7:20. So, we headed out. At the van, the big bouncer type Mike was with the young basstress Nalani and a couple others whom I didn't officially meet. Bakhiti, Kevin, Rawn and I joined them to head out from the venue - and now I'm packed in an over-populated minivan with these bass greats, cruising from Orange back to Anaheim to drop some off and regroup for dinner. What a world.
Day Four; Dave-r-man Homecoming.
That extra Double-Double in my hotel room fridge made a perfect breakfast while I groggily packed in the morning. Checked out, hopped in the rental car and GPSed LAX. Not too bad, only 40 minutes, but NOT taking the 405, so I assumed it must have been jammed up like everyone says it is. (When I had arrived, midnight on Wednesday, the 405 was wiiiide open. And being from DC, I was doubtful of the traffic-is-horrible meme. But I have to assume it's not that much an exaggeration...) I'd never been to California before; it was a good time with great weather and I recommend it more than I assumed I would.
Anyway, all in all I had a freaking awesome time. It's the hugest conference I've ever been to, its 115k attendees this year dwarfing my previous experiences at DragonCon, which hover at 75-80k people. I made several connections, perhaps a couple friends, and have a couple businesses interested in my 3D printing endeavors, so we'll see where that goes!
Side note: the flight home was terrifying; at one point we got some of the turbulence that would have made people fly out of their seats if they weren't buckled in. I'd never had that experience before and I'm already terrified to fly. Wonderful. The lady to my right said she's never experienced that level either, and she's a far more frequent flier. But I was actually consoled by the fun factoid that apparently, turbulence itself has never caused a commercial airliner crash, at least in the US. Something like that.
So there you have it. Thanks, NAMM! Thanks, Kevin and the Brubaker team! I hope to be back next time; maybe even Summer NAMM in Nashville as well.
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