The annual winter NAMM Show has taken place in Anaheim, California. The yearly showcase for the music industry, from manufacturers to dealers to endorsees and performers, the 2019 event took place from 23rd – 27th January 2019.
Spread across the last week in January, musicians, producers, engineers, manufacturers, dealers, promoters, and just about anyone with even a passing connection to the music world gathered to take over Anaheim's Convention Centre for what is the largest expo of its kind in the world.
Following on from 2018’s winter NAMM, which witnessed the largest number of attendees ever, 2019’s event was marked by the return of Gibson – one of the most respected names in the guitar world – who reclaimed their place back on the centre's second floor.
Following a preview day on Wednesday 23rd, Winter NAMM 2019 kicked off proper on Thursday 24th January. Featuring almost 20,000 exhibitors sharing their latest products - from the leaders of the guitar world like Fender and Ibanez, to the noise makers in drums like Sonar and Pearl - the likes of former Guns 'n' Roses guitarist Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal, voice of rock Glenn Hughes (who had a special message for attendees to this years' forthcoming Rory Gallagher International Festival in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal - see below), and former Megadeth string-bender Chris Poland were in attendance to give demonstrations and endorse products by Court Guitars, Orange amplification, and Luxor and Stone Tone products, respectively.
Elsewhere on Thursday, Megadeth’s David Ellefson, members of Devildriver, and former Coal Chamber guitarist Meegs Rascon joined the Sound City Amplification line-up for a fan signing, whilst former Megadeth man Marty Friedman signed autographs at both EMG pickups, and later, at Jackson Guitars.
Steven Perkins’ Harman booth interview meanwhile, proved revelatory, with the Janes Addiction percussionist taking time to talk to eonmusic about the ‘Strays’ album. Released in 2003, 'Strays' saw the band relaunch their career after a hiatus, and taking an unusual approach to recording; “We were very fortunate to have the great producer Bob Ezrin [working with us], revealed the drummer; "He said; 'Let's move it to Henson Studios in Los Angeles'. So we booked out a year in Henson, and we never wrote a song and rehearsed anything until we went there, because we wanted everything to be quality."
He continued; "From the first note of us writing, to the last moment;[our approach was] Let's focus on quality. We can pick and choose, and melt, and talk about it - let's not be in a rehearsal room with other bands next door where we can hear noise. So he brought us into a room that was pristine, clean, and the microscope was on at all times, which was the opposite of how we used to make records."
Revealing the affect that the new approach had on the band, Steven concluded; "That fine microscope brought the best out of us".
Continuing to praise Ezrin, whose credits include Alice Cooper's 'Welcome To My Nightmare' (1975), and Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' (1980), Perkins said; "Bob would sit at the piano and show us things that we never would think of - maybe we'd use them, maybe we wouldn't, but he would open our eyes and ears. He's a great producer because he set everything right, so it was almost perfect for us to make that record".
Focusing in on the album itself, Steven revealed; "The highlight for me on that record is the song 'Strays'. Me and Chris Chaney, the bass player, did our best job to be Entwhistle and Moon (rhythm section of The Who), you know; be responsible to the song, but be responsive to each other, and not play it the same every time, and I love playing that track for that reason."
Back at the Convention Centre meanwhile, Jackson Guitars presented some of the leading names in metal, as Anthrax's Scott Ian, Sepultura man Andreas Kisser, former Machine Head player Phil Demmel, and Megadeth's David Ellefson joined up for a heavily in-demand afternoon signing session.
Bass playing legend and pipe smoker Derek Smalls (actor Harry Shearer) - "Formerly of the band formerly known as Spinal Tap" - meanwhile, brought his four-string prowess to the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus to judge a real life bass off. Culminating in an on-stage performance on the Grand Plaza stage, the contestants were whittled down until only the true bass meister remained.
Framus & Warwick preceded their traditional mega-artist get together by announcing the signing of System of a Down bassist Shavo Odadjian, who comically announced; "I don't agree with any of this!" as he inked the contract with the bass manufacturers in front of the gathered press ensemble.
He was joined by Alice in Chains' William DuVall and Mike Inez, Bon Jovi six-stringer Phil X, bass rumbler Stu Hamm, and many more for what was one of the most anticipated meet and greet sessions of the day.
Proving just as popular Guns 'n' Roses' Duff McKagen's Fender stop off rivaled the sightings of Ed Sheeran (who was on hand to announce a special collaboration with Lowden Guitars) and 'Lord Mayor of NAMM' Stevie Wonder for sheer fan excitement, while Slipknot's Mick Thomson (who signed autographs at Jackson's booth) took the crown jointly held last year by Misfits' man Doyle and superstar Bootsy Collins for most outlandish outfit.
Continuing with plentiful events well into late on Sunday evening (27th January 2019), NAMM 2019 proved exactly why the convention is so revered, and at the very centre of the music universe. And as the event came to a close, thoughts were already turning to Summer NAMM, which is due to be held in Music City, Nashville, Tennessee, from 18-20 June 2019.
Founded in 1901, as the 'National Association of Music Merchants', NAMM has evolved from a national retail association into an international association whose members now include commercial companies, distributors, affiliates and manufacturers.
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Check out our gallery from NAMM 2019 below. All shots courtesy of Getty Images.