Winter NAMM 2019
I began attending the Winter NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Convention back in 2003 while my wife and I were still living in Las Vegas. At that time, I convinced my then pregnant wife and family friend Joe DeFrancesco to drive with me from Las Vegas to Anaheim, California to attend the show (4-hour drive or tour depending on your point of view). At that time Ed Roman hooked me up with the free passes, but as I started covering the company’s new products through media outlets it became easier to secure my own passes. Throughout the years of attending the NAMM shows we had various friends and family that would attend (my wife would never go again thanks to all the walking). At our largest group it included Joe Lowes, Joe DeFrancesco, Tommie Gonzalez, Josh Puckett and me. Now it has unfortunately come down to just me and Josh, but it is like our yearly hunting and fishing trip where we are able to play all the latest music gear before it is sold to the public. Plus, it usually occurs right before Josh’s birthday trip, so it is considered part of his yearly Birthday experience. While attending the show this year it hit me that NAMM, like many conventions and gatherings of like-minded people, is an epicenter for connecting music people. Never in my life have I attended the show and bumped into more people that I knew from Nashville. Plus, thanks to social media I have made international friends and contacts that I am only able to see in person at Winter NAMM. This year it included Frank Steffen Mueller from Belgium and Koji Brash from Japan. Both play Knaggs guitars and are amazing musicians, so we enjoy keeping up with each other. The primary reason I attend Winter and Summer NAMM shows so that I can make face to face contact with people and companies that work with me throughout the year. I’m the guy in Nashville that they are sending guitars, pedals, amps accessories and books to for coverage on my outlets. Luckily, I have also gotten to the point where companies like to send music gear to me for beta testing as they are tweaking products before release. NAMM as an organization is designed to help companies and manufacturers meet up with music stores, music gear dealers and media folks in one building over one week. But no matter how much great gear I get to play, the one on one interviews with visionary builders or the chance meetings with old friends it still all comes down to in person- face to face relationships. Emails are great, text, phone calls even the occasional letter or note, but nothing beats shaking hands and seeing each other in person and knowing that we are united in the same purpose. For the three days we were at Winter NAMM we walked over 17 miles, this is down from 23 miles we covered last year. Our hotel was a bit further away since everything around Anaheim Convention Center books up fast, but the weather was perfect! I was on time for everyone of my meetings, got incredible radio interviews for Acme Radio Gear Gab and learned what makes the new gear better or different. My only missed meeting was with Michael Anthony at the Peavey booth, but CNN bumped me for national coverage and that is the way it goes. No matter how technologically advanced we become there is still nothing better than real in person and personal contact. Most people I met with at Winter NAMM will not see me again until 2020, but from making this connection and letting them tell me about new products and I tell them about my new outlets – we are closer and more in tune than we were before. We must all remember the power of in person eye to eye interaction no matter how brief the time but being in the moment with the people we are communicating with. I’m still trying to digest all the new music products I was flooded with this past week. And preparations are being made for Summer NAMM in Nashville in July. More opportunities to connection with interesting music minded people!