By Jake Klein, Guest Writer
The Namm Show, which is held every year in Anaheim California, celebrated their 115th show from January 21-24, 2016. This show takes place at the Anaheim Convention Center and is put on by the NAMM foundation – a not-for-profit association that promotes the pleasures and benefits of making music and strengthens the $17 billion global music products industry. The NAMM Foundation is funded by NAMM members through trade association activities and private donations.
The Namm Show consists of 4 floor levels, the arena, and several surrounding hotel banquet rooms. Each floor is almost the size of a football field and each floor has its own vibe and level of success – its own customer base it appeals to.
So what can you do and see at this show and why should you go?
From the moment you arrive on property you realize just how big this is by the sheer size of the event and the number of people you see. Try booking a hotel room last minute anywhere near there: it’s almost impossible. In the blocks surrounding the convention center you will see hundreds of people walking the street s from all directions, all converging to this great event. The people that attend Namm are from all walks of life; such as corporate suits to hipsters to rockers and then some. Just outside the front of the Convention Center the street that leads up to it is transformed into a huge concert stage, with several famous food trucks, and a large fountain as well as benches and places to sit everywhere, eat, talk, laugh and network.
Throughout the show there are also Exhibitor Booth events. Some of these events are educational seminars on products and their use, and others are what is called meet and greets of famous musicians and personalities for the fans.
In the Main lobby you will find blog lounges, a NAMM show shop, and a large NAMM conference learning seminar center, which features key note speakers in the industry, and product education classes. What I found clever is that those attending wear headsets to hear every word and block out all the thousands of people walking by and talking throughout the day.
Once you enter the main show floor you begin to walk through row after row of incredible booths – from shiny instruments and cymbals to the most incredible handmade instruments. Not only are you able to view and get a hands on feel for the hottest new products, but you get to meet one on one with the manufacturers of those products. As you walk slowly taking in all these visual sights, you begin to hear sounds that make emotions start to stir inside you. An example of that would be as I was walking by a banjo booth, where I stopped to listen to two old time folk/blues players picking and singing, I was taken back to a simpler time with simpler fun music.
Throughout the day I would stop by many of the booths and spot famous Musician or DJs signing autographs and endorsing the brand if the booth they were in. Here are a few examples of celebs spotted endorsing their favorite brands: Famous musician Dr. John was on the main Stage playing for the NAMM foundation and for the Lennon Foundation. Legendary Drummer Nicko McBrain from the band Iron Maiden Signing autographs and taking picks with his fans in front of the SONOR booth. Metal Guitar God Kerry King from the band Slayer was signing autographs in the B.C. RICH GUITARS booth. Robert Trujillo bassist from the Metal Band Metallica was spotted signing autographs at the Framus guitars booth.
Some of the other things you will see are: musical instruments from around the world with every inventive and creative accessory, children’s musical education software, equipment insurance, Midi controllers, equipment shipping or carrying cases, disc jockey equipment for the beginner to the novice, sound and lighting equipment that will fill a small bar to a stadium. I could go on for hours talking about all the things you can see, feel and do.
Key to the show is being able to not only see with your, eyes but to pick things up, touch them feel them, and talk to the people who created and worked hard on making them. Drink lots of water and bring some GOOD SHOES, on average I walked 5 miles each day!!
And last but not least there are the concerts: during the days and evenings of the NAMM show every hotel, bar, club has some form of entertainment. Walking down any hall on any floor you will hear and see musicians playing every type of music you could think of. You will enjoy every style of music from local musicians, to artists from around the world. If loud musician concerts or DJ’s is not your scene, NAMM has learning conferences and awards shows, and the networking happens in every hallway, hotel lobby, and restaurant and park bench for miles around. It is not surprising to find several musicians starting jam sessions with 3 or more people who don’t even know each other. They just love music and playing it with other musicians.
The Namm Show become more than just a convention through the years and has concert and show events happening all over the city. Bands and artists perform not only in the surrounding hotel lobbies but also in bars and clubs throughout the area. NAMM provides a free app for both android and EOS phones so you can not only map out what you want to do and when to do it, but also where to eat, park, or find exactly what you’re looking for.
And for those of you who haven’t made it this convention, or want more Namm in your life, the Namm Association has another smaller show in Nashville, Tennessee in July, which focuses less on product and more on industry meetings and professional development.
Photos by Jake Klein