Did you ever have that fantasy as a kid, the one where you were allowed to go into a toy store and just go wild and play with anything you ever wanted without getting in trouble? In many ways, that was kind of what my last weekend in Anaheim was like at the Namm show. As I awoke on Thursday the 17th to the California sun coming in through the curtains of my hotel room, I felt a little bit like a kid at Christmas realizing he had toys downstairs. As my roommates and I went towards the Anaheim Hilton for the free breakfast at the ungodly hour of 7:50 AM (I’m in college, my horrible sleep cycle is a way of life) I found the energy I used to have in high school for the early morning commutes and classes. I went and registered, got my badge, got all the forms filled out, and was on my way to join the huddled masses yearning to be geared.
I have to say, with no insult to the Hippie generation of my parents, the people who grew up on and played 80’s hair metal are the most unashamedly devoted people ever. When you pass an almost 60 year old man wearing an all leather get up with teased hair and make up looking like he just came from a Ratt or Twisted Sister audition, your sure of two things; you’re definitely in California, and your “definitely” at the Namm show. After a short wait the doors opened to non-exhibitors, and like salmon swimming upstream or a South African Sardine migration we all crowded into the massive building that housed the main two floors of exhibitions. I was fortunate to be asked by Bass Musician Magazine to not only go on a coverage mission, but to also try and expand our community with new members and advertisers. I was really motivated to not only get some great shots for the mag, but to also make connections and really get a good impression on how that sector of the music industry really works.
For those of you readers who have never had the privilege to go to one of these events, I suggest this: find a way to get a badge, clear your calendar, find someone to watch the cat/dog, and go donate some plasma to cover the ticket and the room out there. It literally is what you would imagine it to be like. If you were like me, you saw the pictures on a thousand websites, and magazines, and truly wondered how awesome it would be to stand in front of a dozen Foderas. Every inch of the convention center was alive with a cavalcade of eccentric sounds and the characters and products making them. It’s the only place on earth where you will see Bootsy Collins and Dave Mustaine walk next to suit and tie Japanese business men while you’re bumping into people that have sold 50 million records.
Being a quote un-quote businessman for this event, I tried to present myself professionally, and clean-shaven. The funny thing is that after the second day I realized some of the representatives and officers for some of these major instrument manufacturers I had to talk to had more tattoos and piercings than I did. There is definitely no such thing as inappropriate attire at this convention. Everywhere I went, the sound of mediocre slap bass and shrill (bridge pickup) shred guitar filled the air. I swear I must have heard the line from Teen Town at least two dozen times. But most of the people were really cool and down to earth, and some of the nicest guys were in the biggest bands, and companies. I probably could have gotten a hug from Mike Inez of Alice in Chains if I had asked for one. Some of the people treated me like I was the president of Guitar Center coming there to buy out their entire inventory, which made me feel great, and created a great environment for both of us. I have to give a huge amount of credit to the Ashdown engineering people for letting me have a great meeting at the top of their double Decker bus—yes, you heard that right, they brought a whole British double Decker into the convention center and made it into a make shift office.
As I enjoyed myself, made contacts, jammed with cool people, and played awesome gear, the weekend ended as fast as it began. As I looked through my camera, I realized what a wonderful weekend it was, full of honestly, really cool adventures, and the new friends I had made. With about 100 good shots, some plug videos, 23 business cards, and concert footage, I think I did well on my first real business trip. And whatever comes of it, I’ll always have the memories to hold me over until next year.