Lots of spandex, tats and the big eighties hair was still there but now it sits on top of the same face thirty years older. Spiked blonde hair, heavy eye make-up and high boots still getting asked for autographs from young rockers who weren’t even born when he had his last hit. Lots of suits running around making deals, taking pictures of copied Chinese instruments that were copied from other Chinese instruments.
Four large stages presenting 46 bands every day for four days. Every night there were dozens of big stars playing private concerts for music dealers who might carry a special brand that artist represents.
There are a few thousand booths with music, noise or both in every one. The new young music folks were also there in huge numbers. They have their sock caps, hoodies and special language. I heard white guys talking black and girls calling each other dude. I saw technology that blew my socks off. I saw guitars made out of oil cans, carbon fiber, bathroom seats and even some made out of wood.
But it was all good. It was a great trade show (no public invited) with around 90,000 in attendance. The vibe was good and I believe dealers were ordering stuff. More good.
It’s the place for music manufacturers, music retail stores, employees, and great professional musicians who endorse their products strutting, signing autographs and doing live demos. I saw Stevie Wonder being led around every aisle with someone telling him what was in each booth.
I sat in on a Todd Rundgren interview after he had just received the “2014 Technology” award. Todd was telling the reporter he didn’t own a cellphone and never will. Okay…
I also watched Todd Rundgren and Chad Smith speaking eloquently about their foundations helping inner-city kids and the value of music in our classrooms.
There were display booths selling exotic woods to builders, $20,000 Epilog lasers to designers and guitar straps that also hold a can of beer. There were thousands of music store dealers attending dozens of education classes on everything from web-design to audio mixing techniques.
Counting some of the Nashville and Chicago summer NAMM shows, I believe this was at least my 40th NAMM show I attended. First as a music store dealer, then a wholesale manufacturing rep, a sales consultant and now a retired guy wanting to see long-time friends, it’s always different but the same. Same house, doors, windows, carpet and folks who live there, but incredible new furniture just invented or improved.
There was also one special person there I wish would have stayed home. I don’t know who you are and that’s all right. We might have shook hands, hugged or just passed in the night. But my hands or eyes or nose was happy to meet you and suck up your cold germs into my body and now we’re both fighting the same battle.