The 32nd annual National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) was held this past month in Anaheim, CA at it’s come to be expected home the Anaheim Convention Center. Running from January 19-22; these 4 days are filled with music seminars, the latest products & gear, concerts, signings, the occasional celebrity sightings, and of course you can’t forget all of the after parties taking place across the city. 2017 was a special year for NAMM being that this was by far the biggest convention in it’s 32 year history. All in all NAMM housed hundreds of booths and over 100,000 attendees. It is definitely easy to get a little overwhelmed at times and so I did my best in trying to break things down day by day with a sort of “How To NAMM Guide” and of course a quick glance at all of my favorite launches & new gear that you can expect on the shelves sometime this year. Enjoy!
Highlights: If you’re like me and wanted to see all of the booths at the convention, this was the day to do it! No crowds and no rush! The Gretsch booth, had me completely entranced on Thursday. I’ve always been a big fan of Hollow Bodies and for me seeing all of Gretsch’s top guitars next to each other was almost like being in guitar heaven… (I mention my favorite model down below). Later that evening I had the chance to meet Orianthi (Michael Jackson). This was a major bonus point for the day. As a fellow female guitarist, I look up to her and how effortlessly she makes her playing appear.
The After Party: This was a busy night to say the least. Directly after the convention ending at 6pm, Richie Sambora & Orianthi took over the NAMM Nissan Grand Plaza Stage located in front of the convention center. The setlist was a combination of Sambora’s solo songs, an Orianthi original, a few classic Bon Jovi hits, and a special new duet between the two guitarists.
The party continued later that evening at The Yost Theater in Santa Ana, CA for the Randy Rhoads Remebered celebration hosted by Eddie Trunk. The night featured an all star cast including Nick Bowcott, Rudy Sarzo, Phil Soussan, Rowan Robertson, Doug Aldrich, Brian Tichy, and with a surprise appearance by Stryper’s Michael Sweet and Oz Fox.
Highlights: Friday was a day filled with many signings and sightings. Some of my favorites of that day included Matt Sorum (GnR), Doyle (The Misfits), & Billy Bob Thorton. The D’angelico booth was another main focal point of the day for me. If you stopped by their booth during the convention you were gifted a pair of strings and a couple of picks and I’m definitely looking forward to trying those new strings out on my Les Paul!
The After Party: It was hard to pick just one Friday night activity. The LA Guns Reunion Show with Phil Lewis & Tracii Guns hosted by none other than Eddie Trunk was held at the Observatory in Orange County, CA. The setlist included all of the fan favorites such as “Never Enough”, “Electric Gypsy”, “One More Reason” and a few deep cuts such as “Malaria”.
While at about the same time that night the legendary Bonzo Bash was also taking place over at the Yost Theater in Santa Ana, CA. Featuring a talented lineup including: Jimmy D’Anda, Simon Wright, Brian Tichy, Chas West, Robert Mason, Stephen Perkins, and so many more.
& just maybe if you were lucky enough to get your hands on tickets, Bob Weir & Friends had a one night only show at the D’angelico Guitar Booth at the NAMM convention (after hours). His jam including Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Doobie Brothers/Steely Dan) and Matt Sorum (GnR)
& if all of that wasn’t enough, The 5th Annual She Rocks Awards presented by the Women’s International Music Network (WiMN) were taking place over at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel. Honorees included Lita Ford, Shirley Manson, Ronnie Spector, and Esperanza Spalding. Other attendees included Steve Vai, Nita Strauss, and Nick Bowcott.
Highlights: Although this was by far the busiest day, this was also the day I got the most accomplished. I started off the day by spending some much needed time over at the Marshall booth with Nick Bowcott (Grim Reaper), who generously offered up his time in order to help me find the perfect combo amp. Later that day I also finally got the chance to hang around both Gibson and Fender and check out some of their new models for 2017. Lastly, it’s not every day you get to see a legendary jazz drummer perform right in front of you, but Billy Cobham (Miles Davis) did just that at the Roland booth.
The After Party: The TEC Awards were held at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel where Joe Perry received the coveted Les Paul Award presented to him by fellow Hollywood Vampire Johnny Depp.
The Imperial Ball Charity Concert took place that night as well over at the Anaheim Center for the Performing Arts featuring Johnny Depp and special guests that included Alice Cooper, Brad Whitford, and Butch Walker.
Ms. Mishap’s Favorite Booths:
No surprise here, but Gibson, Marshall, and BOSS took the cake on this one.
BOSS had an impressive case lineup of every peddle they have manufactured in chronological order.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Relics, founded by Jetboy guitarist Billy Rowe, also completely captivated me with their custom made vintage guitars.
Gretsch, Fender, Blackstar and Guild Guitars were also mandatory stops I made everyday.
Ms. Mishap’s Favorite New Gear:
– Gretsch G2622 Streamliner Center Block Double Cutaway
– D’angelico Premier EXL-1
– BOSS DS-1-4A 40th Anniversary Distortion Pedal (this limited edition item will only be available in the 2017 year, so get one while they last. I promise if it’s anything like their DS-1BK I picked up a few months ago then you will not be disappointed!)
– Guild Starfire III in Black (this isn’t new to 2017 per se, but I couldn’t get enough of it)
– Gibson S Series M2. This guitar will start at only $399. You heard me right, Gibson has now started a line of guitars that will be more affordable while keeping their iconic look and sound. There are many other S Series models to choose from as well, but I’m really diggin this M2!
– Rock ‘N’ Roll Relics Thunders Model. (Designed to look & sound like Johnny Thunder’s signature guitar, it was like gazing at mythical creature.)
I hope you enjoyed this quick run through from a writer/guitarist point of view. I could easily go on and on about the countless shows I caught each day at the many different booths and about all of the amazing gear I saw, but sometimes you have to leave something to the imagination. It is truly hard to believe that this is just the shortened version of a long 3 day convention, which I do hope to make 4 days next year. From what I gather from other attendees, Sunday is the real day to go looking at booths since the crowds have pretty much passed at that point. This would be perfect time to do that one last quick run through I believe and catch anything you might have missed.
As always a big thank you goes out to my always incredible editor at Vegas Rocks! Magazine, Sally Steele, for this amazing opportunity and for her continued support.
I’m truly looking forward NAMM 2018!
For more photos of the convention and shows visit my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ms.mishap/