Review By Bobby HQ Storm, Sandy Storm
Anaheim, California is known for the original “Happiest place on Earth” Disneyland location, but for Four days in January, that title moves over to the Anaheim Convention Center as it hosts The Annual National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show. This is a dream Toy Store for anyone that is even remotely connected to the music industry. Every faction of the Industry congregates here to make magic happen. Music of old is honored, the present is inspired and the future is confirmed. Music entrepreneurs from over 100 countries attended this year’s event. In the 114 year history of NAMM, this year saw a record breaking 1,621 exhibitors.
“In an unpredictable and chaotic marketplace, the NAMM Show has become the reliable and predictable platform where our members can come for business, education and inspiration,” said NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond. “ This year saw a record 99,342 NAMM Show registrants, the largest gathering in NAMM Show history.”
Paradise? Let’s see, everything you can ever want and/or dream of for your musical palate is presented at this event. Perhaps you’ll enjoy a one on one conversation with some of your favorite musicians and talk about common interests, influences….. or who makes the best coffee! As evening sets in, you have an endless choice of parties to attend. High profile musicians hit the stages from Hollywood to the Orange County beach communities. This year’s shows included star studded events such as The Bonzo Bash (tribute to John Bonham), Randy Rhoads Remembered and Metal Allegiance, which made their jamming premier on the inaugural voyage of Motorhead’s Motorboat, performed at the House of Blues and featured Frank Bello, Charlie Benante and Scott Ian (Anthrax), Chuck Billy and Alex Skolnick (Testament),David Ellefson (Megadeth), Chris Broderick (formerly of Megadeth), Andreas Kisser (Sepultura), Mark Osegueda (Death Angel), Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs), and John Tempesta (The Cult).
This year marked key anniversaries for some. ESP is celebrating their 40th anniversary; Peavey celebrated their 50th anniversary at the Hilton, adjacent to the Convention Center that included performances by Blue Oyster Cult and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Michael Anthony of Van Halen/Chickenfoot fame, sat in on Bass for Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band even performed Van Halen’s ‘Aint Talking ‘Bout Love’ .
The Annual NAMM TEC AWARDS celebrated their 30th anniversary which was held on January 24th. The professional audio and music production industry’s most prestigious awards celebrate excellence in 30 creative and technical achievement categories. The Les Paul Award, the evening’s highest honor award, was presented to Iconic guitarist SLASH, who also rocked the house that evening.
One thing you can count on at a NAMM event…. “Expect the Unexpected”. Here’s one of those moments with Bassist Rudy Sarzo, known for his works with Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, DIO and Blue Oyster Cult. Rudy stops by the Jackson Guitar exhibit to have a little fun:
We had a chance to do several brief interviews which included Peter Baltes of ACCEPT. The band finished their first leg of touring in December. Peter says they will start their second leg in April and they hope to come back to the States in the fall of 2015. New material is already churning and the band would like to take the same approach as they did with their latest release “Blind Rage”.
Alex Skolnick of Testament gave us a breakdown of his busy schedule while at NAMM.
Dave Ellefson of Megadeth advised that Megadeth is working on new material, but is unable to discuss the line up as it is still being worked out and an official release will follow soon. Dave Ellefson is also currently working on new material with Frank Bello of Anthrax for their Altitudes and Attitude band.
Roy Z, known for his guitar contributions to such artists as Bruce Dickinson, Halford and Judas Priest is only a short list of his achievements. Roy is currently working with his band Tribe Of Gypsies and has also been working with Australian band Octanic , Jupiter Falls out of England and Magnotauro from Mexico. Now that’s some international love there!
Mark Zavon of Kill Devil Hill says he’s looking forward to getting back in the studio with the rest of the band for their third studio release. They may start laying down tracks in five to six weeks.
Uli John Roth is releasing “Scorpions Revisted”. Uli says he picked out his personal favorite early Scorpions songs and re-recorded them live. Uli will be traveling to Japan in February to perform at Sun Plaza hall, where the “Scorpions Tokyo Tapes” were recorded in April of 1978 (Uli’s last performances with the Scorpions). Uli says the performance will be filmed for a DVD.
You can view these video interviews as well as the product interviews via the video links:
I’ll tap on a couple of new releases this year at NAMM. Any attempt to squeeze in more products would result in mind combustion.
Fender will be releasing a new line of signature series which include the Steve Harris Precision Bass in his famously regal gloss white finish complete with special pinstriping, mirrored pickguard and West Ham United F.C. crest. Other ironclad features include a single powerful Seymour Duncan Steve Harris signature model pickup, Fender High Mass bridge, Rotosound Steve Harris Signature flat-wound strings and Harris’s signature on the back of the headstock. Available February 17, 2015.
A new version of the Signature Geddy Lee Jazz Bass will be released March 12, 2015. This new version combines the specs and features of Lee’s three favorite basses—two Fender Custom Shop versions of his signature model and the original sleek black ’72 Jazz Bass. The neck has a thicker custom profile, topped by a maple fingerboard with white binding and white pearloid block inlays. Its two vintage-style single-coil Jazz Bass pickups are specially wound and voiced to sound like those on Lee’s prized 1972 original, and a Geddy Lee Signature High-Mass bridge provides rock-solid intonation.
Schecter have three new releases this year:
The Platinum series, which features sleek satin finishes and comes in a new aggressive S-II body style.
The Banshee Elite, which is the neck thru everyone’s been waiting for and is equipped with an exclusive Floyd Rose series bridge as well as handmade Custom shop pickups: Supercharger Mach series and Brimstone.
The Hellraiser has been the staple of Schecter and their new release aims to please those that desire passive tone. Schecter Handmade CustomShop Brimstone pickups are their answer to the demand. It also comes with an Exclusive Floyd Rose.
For more specs on these products including Jackson-Charvel, you can view the video link:
NAMM can be mind boggling, every instrument is represented here. There are also educational/Tutorial workshops throughout the event, Clinics featuring some of music’s most renowned artists. If one were to walk the entire floor plan, they would have completed an approximate 28 mile (45km) stroll.
So what can NAMM offer? The leading edge of music products and technology would be one. Inspiration? Definitely, but there is another that I found so evident while roaming the endless sea of exhibits and trekking through the gauntlet of “Drum” alley….it’s Joy, there was pure joy throughout. Laughter abounded, strangers seemed like old friends, and people would go the extra mile to assist you. It did seem to be the “happiest place on Earth”. Bringing a hundred thousand people together in a musical environment and the result is Chaotic euphoria….and there you have it, a simple solution to world peace! So maybe establishing such an environment is paradise after all.