The NAMM conventions (National Association of Musical Merchants) are a large slice of insanity that occurs twice a year in the U.S, with the added bonuses of more, even crazier “world” type conventions such as the Music Messe in Frankfurt, Germany! I could never bring myself to ever go to that one, because knowing my reaction to the NAMM shows, I always thought I’d literally never even live through The Music Messe!!
If you take into account all the years I had Hot Licks Video, and my first NAMM being in 1982, I had literally done 35 straight NAMM shows from 1982 to 1998. I did finally go back to the Nashville one this past year, the first one I could actually “face” since I tragically lost my wife Deborah and my 14 year-old daughter, Gillian in a car accident in 1998. It just always seemed like way too much to have to face again…all those people, all those faces, all those stories I’d have to tell and re-tell……NAMM is crazy.
There was a time when I actually did “relatively” enjoy them, when we’d have the Hot Licks booth,and I’d get to play there amongst many other of our artists who’d show up and play, such as Tuck Andress, Brian Setzer, Stu Hamm and many others. This was always my favorite part of NAMM…when I could hang out with my cronies and pick and tell stories. And of course, you’d never know what new legends you’d meet there, either…I mean I got to hang out with the great “Thumbs” Carlisle, and so many others. The LA show was always fun because you’d meet a lot of the old time surf bands and players, people I barely knew existed, as a kid growing up on the east coast!
My main problem was always having to wear too many hats under that one NAMM roof! One moment I’d be appearing at the Guitar Player booth signing autographs, then I’d have a performance scheduled at another guitar maker’s booth, then I’d run into James Burton and he’d want to hang out, and then I’d have people throwing all kinds of endorsement things at me, and then I’d be chasing down some artist so I could sign him for a Hot Licks video……you get the idea…it was crazy, and not to mention there were then the endless nighttime jams, many of which I played at or at least felt obligated to attend!!!
I’m sure you get the picture, but believe it or not, they were also great, and I feel that now, at an older age, I can pace myself better for these kinds of events, and maybe not even lose my voice at tehm from talking over all the loud music!! More on NAMM next time!