The NAMM Show at the Anaheim Convention Center is everything that you’ve heard it is: insane, overwhelming, excessively loud, and packed to the brim with both people and products. This year’s NAMM Show (my second year attending) was more productive and exciting than I could have ever expected it to be. Jacqueline, Arthur, and I were able to impressively balance both work and play, strengthening old relationships and forming new connections through scheduled meetings, private parties, impromptu gatherings, and unexpected sightings. Outlined in today’s article is a daily synopsis of our experience in Anaheim and a daily run-through of everything (well, almost everything) that transpired over that four-day weekend back in January.
The day prior to our departure for Los Angeles coincidentally was also the day before my birthday. Not only was this Arthur’s first time attending the NAMM Show, it was also his first time on the west coast. Arthur and I took care of some logistics (sending interview questions off to a few new clients, posting new blog features, packing for our journey, finishing up schoolwork for the week, and re-stringing my main ESP LTD Les Paul, among other things), checked in to our flight, rehearsed, and then went out to dinner at PF Changs in Tysons Corner with our parents to celebrate my birthday. We woke up at 6 am, finished packing, and headed to Dulles Airport shortly after Jacqueline arrived. We had an awesome, humor-filled flight to LAX which lasted nearly 6 hours. We landed and were subsequently picked up by Jacqueline’s friend Jessica who drove us to our hotel (after we stopped at In N Out for lunch, naturally). After checking into our hotel, we headed to the NAMM Show to pick up our badges and walk the floor for two hours.
We immediately went to the SJC Custom Drums booth where we met up with Mike Ciprari and Kevin Pintado. We were fortunate enough to chat with Mike Johnston and Brad Davis (Adventure Drums) that day as well. Arthur and I went over to the DR Strings booth and met Marty Schwartz (the well-known online guitar teacher) and Jonathan Schwartz, my contact at Jamstar, to discuss an interview we had set up through email the week prior to the show. The two of us then walked to the Disney Grand Hotel where we met with Barry Gibson and Keith West, the owners of Burns Guitars. We spoke with them for nearly an hour and then trekked back to our hotel with two guitars in tow. Kevin, Jessica, Jacqueline, Arthur and I then went out to Umami Burger for my birthday dinner (absolutely delicious dinner and drinks) and then headed back to the hotel to pre-game after getting drinks from 7-11. Arthur and Kevin talked drums, rudiments, tech-ing, and practiced while we all hung out and talked before heading over to the Hilton to see The Goodnight, Tim Spier’s band (their song ‘Silence’ is provided at the top of this article for your listening enjoyment). We watched their hour-long set (they were so tight live, putting on quite the performance) and ended up going to bed around 2:30 AM after crying ourselves to sleep as we laughed over the night’s adventures.
Our Friday began by meeting Jim Dunlop over at Fender and then Cobus Potgieter at DW. Arthur and Kevin Fruge, Jacqueline’s former drum teacher, then went to meet Mike Portnoy; Jacqueline and I spent time at SJC and Vater and met up with my friend Roland Smith from high school. I met the guys from Songhammer, a band I’d interviewed here on the blog back in 2013, and we met up with Aaron Spears and David Myers Jr. Arthur, Jacqueline, and I also met up with Luke Holland before we completed our first video interview of the show with Jonathan Schwartz of Jamstar. Our dinner at California Pizza Kitchen was less than spectacular, but afterwards we attended the exciting SJC Drums / Earthquaker Devices / Alternative Press party over at Bowlmor Lanes.
Arthur and I met up with jam band legend John Molo (of Bruce Hornsby and John Fogerty fame) on Saturday morning to present him with his new Burns guitar I had secured two days before, and after chatting for a bit we headed to the convention center with Jacqueline. Arthur and I then met Derrick Baird, the engineer behind Old Dog’s products, and spoke with him before our interview with Nick Costa of Master Crafted Drums. Our friend Nash Nardone surprised us after the interview, and then I met with Dan Ainspan (a student from SUNY who we’ve brought on to assist with the blog). Arthur and I’s sister, Polly, and her friend Molly showed up around this time as well, and we began walking around to different areas of the convention center with them, meeting Travis Barker in the process. We met up with Cobus and Nash for a bit after watching the Mike Johnston, JP Bouvet, and Matt Halpern drum shred over at Brady Drums. Arthur bought take-out from PF Chang’s for Jacqueline, he, and I to celebrate our birthdays. Arthur and I then went to meet Bobby Borg, one of my UCLA professors, over at the Hilton before grabbing Jacqueline and heading to the Tama party where we hung out with Thomas Pridgen. We saw Mike Portnoy, Spanky McCurdy, and then Animals as Leaders perform live back to back, which was incredible, before crashing back at the hotel after another intense day.
The final day of the convention began with showers, packing up, and checking out of our hotel before heading to the convention center. We all met with a number of companies, especially Jacqueline, and spent some time in the Pearl room and the Gibson room; I interviewed Mike Ciprari over at SJC Custom Drums first and then Doug from Kauer Guitars and Paul from Paul Rhoney Guitars. Our close friends Richard Wynne and Brendan McCusker (Carlton) drove down from Los Angeles to meet for lunch at the close of the convention; afterwards we met Jacqueline back at the hotel, grabbed our bags, and were picked up by an Uber X driver. We made a quick stop at our sister’s apartment in Westwood for dinner before heading to the airport with a second Uber X driver. Our flight back was rather uneventful aside from some intense turbulence about 30 minutes in. In the words of Arthur, “it (the NAMM Show) came and it went”: our four days on the west coast were action-packed and full of adventure. While there was little sleep to be had and constant adjusting of structured schedules, our trip was thrilling and every bit worth it. As always, thanks for following our ever-developing story; we’re excited to share the next stage of our journey with all of you in the coming weeks and months.